HANGIN WITH FRED (continued)
PM: So, you gotta hit the stage, I'm jumpin on some questions. Your fan base is staunch, notorious. What do you think draws them to the band so loyally? What kind of relationship do you have with the fans?
FE: Well, I have the Fredheads, which is a pretty darn good fan base. I think the Fredheads are a lot like I am. They're not mainstream, and they don't wanna think about normal things. They wanna be outside the box, and because I'm outside the box, they stay out there with me. And they look at me pretty shrewdly, they're not religious. They're fanatics, but they're not religious. I have to toe the line. If they found a crack in the wall, they wouldn't like it much.
PM: They know a good show from a lousy show.
FE: Yeah, and they'll say it, too. They'll say"You weren't quite On last night." The Fredheads, I'd say that I'd have dinner with about 70% of them.
PM: And the others are too...?
FE: Crazy, there are always some crazy people. They're great, I love the crazies, just don't necessarily wanna have dinner with them.
PM: So, how's it going, would you say, how's the life, and the career?
FE: It's great. I have the career that people just dream of. I live like a Rock star without the fame. And the fame is the thing that I don't need for my own ego. I probably wanted it when I was younger, but it never really happened. Looking back, I'm glad it didn't. I make enough money, I have a good life. I certainly make more money than I could doing anything else. Living on the road can be a little hard, but I've learned how to do it.
PM: And, outside the box or not, it's a matter of time before some really big act cuts a tune and makes you a bunch of dough.
FE: Well, I've been told that all my life. [laughter] And if that doesn't happen, it doesn't matter. I've been red lining for the last three years, and I don't have to go any faster. It's hummin right now.
PM: How do you like your new label, how is Signature Sounds doing?
FE: Well, Signature is kind of a transitional thing, they're friends of mine that are helping me in the U.S. and they do a damn good job. My real label, see, is I'm on A Major Label [the name of his new company]. That's what I'm most excited about. Since I got on A Major Label, my life has changed. And everybody in this town wants to be on my label. Why, just at lunch today I heard a girl say "I want to be on A Major Label." So I'm really becoming a popular, business type guy.
PM: Is the band personnel different already from Ralph's Last Show?
FE: Oh yeah. Ralph is gone, for one thing. Washboard Hank's gone. Only Willie [Bennett] and I are left from the old guard. I got a Rock & Roll band now. We got the hot young guys pumpin it up and the old guard saying slow it down, it's really good.
PM: I see there's been some discussion on the Internet among the Fredheads about the song "It's Time to Get a Gun." Any comment?
FE: I didn't know that, I don't read that stuff.
PM: I just got clued in to it [by Allison Green, my Canadian music spy]. People want to know if it's satirical, is he serious, what's the deal...
FE: Do you know that song?
PM: Yeah, I do.
FE: Well, let me tell you what that song's all about. I woke up one morning, and the neighbor's car had been stolen. We'd heard the dogs barking. My wife of the time said, "I think I'd better start locking the door." I went outside and thought, "Geez, maybe I should buy a gun." And I wondered, "How can I afford one, I don't have any money right now. I been drinking a lot lately. I'm sure if I drank one less bottle of wine, that'd be ten dollars a week, I could afford one. Maybe it's time." And then, I was thinking about the fact that I was living on this farm, and they were considering putting in this airport, and the highway was getting closer, and I was thinkin I could fend off those guys if I had a gun. And I went in and told my wife, and she said, "Well, I'm not comfortable with this, because my father never owned one," and I said, "Well, it's me that's gotta go out there," and walked back outside and thought, "You know, this is the most ridiculous idea I ever had." But I wrote the song. So I don't even know myself! [laughter]
PM: Anything you'd like to share concerning the events of 9/11? [Our interview took place not too long after the terrorist attacks.]
FE: I'll tell you what was interesting to me, and I'm not downplaying the tragedy. I just read this interesting book about this drug dealer, he's called Dr. Evil or something, from somewhere around Thailand. Not in Thailand, but a nearby place I can't recall the name of. They export almost all the heroin that comes to America. They've killed a lot more Americans than the terrorist attacks of 9/11 did. But nobody's bombing him. If Bin Laden had been smart, he'd have let American industry get their fingers into the pie. Don't get me wrong, I think it's an absolutely horrible thing. I love America and Americans, they've been better to me than even my own country, sometimes. But I think politicians are politicians. When I read that thing about this drug lord, it made my blood run cold. He's killed a lot more than six thousand people. It's a curious thought, anyhow. continue