Fred Mascherino of The Color Fred
Fred Mascherino took the path that few musicians dare to tread, he left a successful band in the dust to write and release his solo album. It takes some guts, but beyond that it takes an unavoidable passion to follow the beat of one’s own drum, or in this case…one’s own guitar.
With Taking Back Sunday still in the rear view mirror Mascherino headed into the studio with producer Lou Giordano resulting in his first solo album titled Bend To Break. It was recorded in just four short weeks and was followed by a North American tour that allowed Fred’s fans to see him in a new light…as a commanding front man.
Now working on a second studio album Mascherino feels that his sound is constantly evolving and that there is always room to grow. Recently Fred took some time to talk to TWRY staffer Vicky about his solo project and the future of it, as well as his love and support for preserving our environment.
Interviewed by: Vicky Zeamer | February 2009
New Jersey has a very rich music scene that I can imagine is great for growing up in. What is your fondest musical memory in the days before being the person on stage?
I grew up more in the Philly area but there was actually a club in Trenton, NJ called City Gardens and most of my favorite shows happened there. Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Green Day, Gorilla Biscuits… Philly was a perfect place to live in the early to mid 90s because you could see your favorite band 4 times a tour without driving more than 3 hours from home. My fondest memories were usually meeting these bands because it was the beginning of the end of bands being untouchable like bands had been in the 80s. It made me think maybe I could do what they were doing.
The Color Fred was formed and active far before you left Taking Back Sunday. When and why did you feel it necessary to leave Taking Back Sunday in order to fully pursue The Color Fred?
I felt that it was going to take a very long time to write the 4th TBS record (with or without me there) and at the same time, my solo songs were flowing much more naturally. I was in a weird place in my life at that time and looking back now, I definitely needed to do what I did and I’m glad that I did. I know that some of our fans couldn’t understand and that’s kind of the hard part.
Do you feel pressured to live up to the popularity Taking Back Sunday has raised?
I’ve never in my life felt that I was “popular”. I guess I still want to write music that strikes a nerve. It’s always just about what I write and if it’s good. That’s the only focus these days.
What were some other names proposed in the naming poll for this band?
Oh, when I put the online poll up, fans thought of it all. Color Me Fred was a common one… I was just feeling out the name that I liked and The Color Fred was still the most popular.
This being your solo project, how do you feel you’ve grown since being ‘on your own?’
Now that I’ve been writing for my second record, I can see more where it’s been heading. I wrote ‘Bend to Break’ while I was still with TBS so now my view is going to be much different with the future music. I’m definitely feeling more depth this time around, more pain, and some stuff is coming out more aggressive.
It’s said that you had four weeks to record the whole album, how did that work out? Do you feel like you almost ‘had a lifetime’ to think about what you wanted it to sound like?
I finished a tour with TBS went into the studio that next Monday and the day after we finished the record, I started the next TBS tour. It was super intense and I even played the Live Earth Fest with TBS one Friday in the middle of making the record. But, I had been able to think about these songs for ages so it was crazy the first time each of them came to life in the studio.
Was there anything that erupted naturally in your solo material you didn’t think was there?
It was my first time in years thinking of myself as the lead vocal so I had to test that out and get back into that headspace. It felt really good but that’s a part that’s going to continue to evolve on the second record I think. There’s still a lot of room to grow there.
How was the album name “Bend to Break” conceived?
It was a lyric from the song “If I Surrender” but it was also the old metaphor that the stick that bends is the hardest to break. But, I was in a spot where I felt I was bending to accommodate someone and maybe they were just pushing with the full intention of breaking. There’s not much you can do in that situation.
You do your best to keep all your activities down to a zero carbon footprint. What are some ways you work to achieve this besides the recycled CD packaging?
Being vegan is about the best thing a person can do to be “green”. Using less, buying less and eating less is the idea but even just eating a little less meat makes a difference. For touring, I also buy carbon offsets from a company called Native Energy. I’m looking into alternative power for our van but that gets kind of crazy. I have a car at home that runs on veggie oil from a Chinese restaurant and I’m always trying to “green” things in my home. It’s always a work in progress until the world catches up.
Was there a certain event that sparked this environmental consciousness, or have you always been concerned about this issue?
I have always been concerned because I loved the outdoors as a kid and I saw how we often ruin these things. I’d have to say though that from Al Gore’s movie on, I have learned something new that I didn’t know almost every day. It’s a great thing that more people are into it because then we all learn from each other.
What are your future hopes and dreams for The Color Fred?
I feel that we are at the very beginning and I hope that this can be judged on what we are about to do. As I put together the line-up for the second CD, I realize that great bands don’t happen overnight. I have the circumstance of having people’s ears while I’m still building so I have to work day and night to catch up to expectations and to what I’m hearing in my head. It’s as close as it’s ever been right now. We’ll get there.
*Photos used courtesy of The Color Fred MySpace Page