Whoever says there are no more good new rock bands, obviously hasn’t heard Edge of Free. They just released their debut self-titled album and it’s everything that’s good in Rock and Roll. Catchy choruses, slammin’ rhythm section, acoustic and electric guitar mayhem (in a good way). If Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Neil Young are your thing, Edge of Free is for you. Guitarist John Hussey was kind enough to answer Korea Guitar’s 20 questions. Enjoy!
Who or what inspired you to pick up a guitar?
Neil Young was the reason I picked up the guitar. Both his acoustic and electric guitar rhythm styles completely inspire me. He’s got amazing feel, sensitivity and plays complex patterns effortlessly.
What was the first guitar you ever had?
My first guitar was an all blonde Takamine six string. Still have it, sounds a tad better every year.
Where did your love for acoustic guitar come from?
Again I have to blame Neil Young for turning me on to acoustic guitar. Albums of his that struck me early would be Harvest, Comes A Time and After the Gold Rush. That said, Jimmy Page and Steven Stills are huge heroes of mine. All these guys know how to play the acoustic guitar as a rock n’ roll instrument. In Edge of Free, the acoustic guitar is the foundation of our style of rock. Ramble On Is an excellent example of the acoustic based rock that has informed my process as a writer and guitar player.
Can you remember the first time you played on front of people?
Nope, I must’ve drank myself into submission before taking the stage.
When and how did you hook up with singer Scott Sneddon?
Scott and I met at a day job. We took one look at each other and said, let’s write, play and sing our way outta here!
Where did the name Edge of Free come from?
The name Edge of Free first appeared in Scott lyrics for the song Edge of Free. The human struggle for freedom is a universal theme that crosses time and cultures. Some us us hide from freedom. Some of us reach for it. In this lifetime we may make it to freedom’s edge…but I know no one who has truly escaped the struggle.
Something that really impressed me about the album was how you could make acoustic driven songs sound so heavy. What’s your secret?
Tequila! Ha, jk! Honestly if you take a cocktail shaker, add one part Led Zeppelin “Rain Song,” one part AC/DC “Back in Black,” and one part Soundgarden “Blackhole Sun,” then shake the shit out of it… you end up with how I feel about making music. I play the acoustic guitar hard, heavy, loud. It’s always been my favorite instrument and I use it to play my favorite music, ‘rock n’ roll…with a twist!
In your press release, you talk about the trials and tribulations that the two of you have faced. This comes out in the lyrics. I hate to ask, but you seem very open about depression and drug addiction. What is it with ‘creative folk’ and depression and drug addiction? With Chris Cornell passing recently, it seems to be a topic that needs discussion.
Our songs are about personal experiences, and the pain, loss, wreckage, and good fortune we’ve passed through in their wake. Addiction has been a recurring theme in our lives. It’s always there, the wolf at the door… the liar. Scott writes all our lyrics and he’s faced depression on a deeper ring of living hell than I have personally. That said, he wrote Autumn about the unraveling and eventual end of my marriage. That period took me to some dark, desolate lands of the soul. “Higher” is a song that we both relate to, as would most people who are able to be honest about their hidden addictions.
Most bands sit in a practice room and jam out to create new music. Since you wrote all the music yourself, how do you create? Is it more difficult with no outside advice or suggestions?
Writing is one of my favorite experiences in life. I play guitar every day. Sometimes I play for the sheer fun of playing. Other times I practice specific things in an effort to grow as a player. The ‘writing’ bit usually comes bursting in to interrupt one of those two experiences. I’ll be playing something new out of the blue and it will take me to a place that is defined by a clear emotional state. If I’m intrigued by that place I’ll continue wandering that path until I’ve found the rest of the song. It’s very natural for me to write the music alone, but I love that fact that Scott and I do collaborate on every song. His melodies and lyrics take our music to places I would not likely find on my own.
Could you take us through your setup?
I use Taylor acoustic guitars. I’ve loved the Taylor sound since the first time I played one. On this record I used both a Taylor 710 & 410 on every track. The Taylor 710 has a bright shimmery sound that I love while the 410 has a darker more percussive tone. I often layer these two favoring one or the other depending on the sound that best support the particular song.
Vintage Fender Telecaster Thinlines are my go to for electric tracks. (Thinline models are semi-hollow with a single f shaped sound hole). I use my blonde or black 1974 humbucker Tele with Burstbucker pickups for the heavier tracks. When I want more of a traditional Tele sound I use my Tobacco Sunburst 1967 single coil Thinline Tele with vintage pickups. My go to amp is a custom ‘58 Fender Deluxe retro rebuild wired by my friend Andy Logan. To compliment the already amazing sound of the Deluxe I may use a Fulltone OCD, vintage Tubscreamer, Fuzztone or the like.
How about some love for the other musicians on the album. Who played what?
We had an awesome rhythm section for the album tracking sessions. The team was made up of two Nashville vets, Chris Autry on Bass and Steve Ebe on Drums. These guys contributed deep creativity and soul to the tracks. My friend, producer Eric Fritsch introduced us to these two pros. Steve and Chris quickly wrapped their heads around the deceptively complex rhythms and intensity shifts that define the Edge of Free sound.
Toby Wright, who has worked with Alice in Chains and Metallica produced the album. What kind of input did he have on the final outcome of the songs?
Toby was instrumental in capturing “the sound” of the Edge of Free debut album. His skill as both an engineer and producer helped us create the sonic depth and space we were looking for.
Most people associate Nashville with country music. There are some tinges of country on the CD, but how is the rock scene in Nashville?
The rock scene is slammin’ in Nashville. Come visit, you’ll be amazed!
How’s the music industry treating you? Is it as tough as people think for new bands to “make it”?
The fact that the average fan doesn’t have to, or choose to pay for music anymore makes it tough for all musicians, producers, record labels, etc..
What are some of your favorite acoustic rock songs, aside from Stairway to Heaven?
As I mentioned earlier, Ramble On, (Zep) is killer, to list a few more: The Rain Song (Zep), Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, (CSN), I Stay Away & No Excuses, Alice In Chains.
This website was created in Korea. Without Googling, what do you know about Korea?
Among other things Korea is home to the JD Power favorite Kia line of automobiles which has become one kickass, top ranked family of motor cars. Oh and I may be the first American you’ve met who’s added Kimchi to his pepperoni pizza : )
What five albums should every guitarist own?
In no particular order:
Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin
Back in Black – AC/DC
Toulouse Street – Doobie Brothers
Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix Experience
Harvest – Neil Young
As a Canadian, I have to ask: Did you get behind the (NHL’s) Nashville Preddators in the Stanley Cup Final?
Hell yes! We have an awesome Hockey team in Smashville. They came so close!!! Go Preds!
If you could jam with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Jimmy Page is my ultimate guitar hero, he’d be the one.
What does the near future have in store for Edge of Free? Touring? Recording?
We are in the process of mapping a US tour for this Fall…can’t wait! In the meantime we are always writing, recording demos, working on the next record, which is going to be killer! We are growing our style both into heavier and more symphonic directions simultaneously. Super excited to bring it to the world.
Thanks, John. Best of luck with the upcoming tour and in the future.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with Korea Guitar and the fans. You guys ROCK!