If you see a tall guy in Brooklyn playing at a punk venue donning long black hair in a deep red western shirt with pearl snaps and cowboy boots, it’s probably Freddie Nunez.
He’s been a part of NYC’s underground music scene for five years now. His older music mostly revolves around the indie rock genre, reminiscent of Bright Eyes or Mac Demarco. Currently, however, he’s been tapping into a new style. Instead of the usual headbang-inducing electric guitar and synth, Nunez is bringing emotional pedal steel guitar and acoustics.
“Living in New York has impacted my music in the best way possible,” Nunez tells BTRtday. “Living here has made me more bold and want to be more true to myself—I hope and try for that truth to hopefully be found in my music.”
Like when Ray Charles decided to stray from his classic R&B style and make a country album, or when Dwight Yoakam was the first to have a country music video on MTV with “Honky Tonk Man” dawning the age of “cow-punk,” Nunez is also bringing country music to a scene starving for it.
We’re not talking Luke Bryan or Blake Shelton pop-country crap about trucks and girls in Daisy Dukes. Nunez sings about anguish and nostalgia with a bottle of tequila.
“A lot of this album was inspired by an experience I had while listening to Hank Williams [Sr.] on mescaline,” Nunez says about his upcoming album Left Hand Path. “It reminded me of what I was doing at the core of being a songwriter, but it was so direct and not hidden behind a ton of overdubs and distortion.”
The premiere below is “Nights In This Town,” a single from Left Hand Path out early 2018. It’s an emotional track that channels the innocence of country music with its sweet and simple melody, but keeps you hooked with its dark and mysterious lyrics. Nunez describes it simply as “regret.”
“The song’s about the kind of energy that you can get at night from New York by staying up until morning and regretting everything you did the previous night,” he says about the song. “I hope the music gives the listener that high of like, ‘yeah, anything’s fucking possible’—mixed with a more somber tone of, ‘what the hell am I doing with life and what was I thinking?’”
Listen to “Nights In This Town” and read the entire interview with Freddie Nunez below.
BTRtoday (BTR): Hey Freddie, how are you today? Tell me about your life—how did you get into music?
Freddie Nunez (FN): Hello, I’m great. I just played an awesome show at Bar Matchless the other night with my favorite local band Low Roller. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for five years pursuing my music. I was previously living in California and Portland, OR for a short period. I’ve been writing songs and recording since I was a teenager, but I originally got into music by way of the alto saxophone in elementary school. [Laughs]
I just got done recording an album that I’m really proud of called Left Hand Path (named after my favorite bar). Before that I recorded this really fun record in Orlando, FL with my friend Terry Caudill called Heaven’s in Your Head, and before that I released an EP called Demos From The Future on cassette with Lawn Chair Records.
BTR: What inspires your sound?
FN: A lot of this album was inspired by an experience I had while listening to Hank Williams on mescaline. It reminded me of what I was doing at the core of being a songwriter, but it was so direct and not hidden behind a ton of overdubs and distortion—I still like those things though. I guess it was even similar to the rawness of Daniel Johnston or something. Either way, there’s something about that directness that I admire. I guess you can even call it a “truth” in a way.
BTR: Where are you from? Has your hometown affected your music writing in any way?
FN: I’m originally from a small desert town in California called Moreno Valley. I don’t know if it impacted my writing, but coming from a place where not too much was going on probably helped spur my imagination.
BTR: How has being in the great Big Apple affected your music?
FN: Living in New York has impacted my music in the best way possible. Living here has made me more bold and want to be more true to myself. I hope and try for that truth to hopefully be found in my music.
BTR: Tell me about what you’re working on now–are you experimenting with anything new?
FN: Well, I just got done recording the album, Left Hand Path at Metropolitan Sound with producer/engineer, John Epperly. It’s exciting to me because it was recorded in one day, live to tape with a band of friends (Steve Shaw, Elise Okusami, Veronica Davila and Johnny Lam). I love and owe everyone who was involved a great deal. I read about how albums used to be cut in one day and that really stuck with me. It just felt like the right thing to do with these songs, since they’re very straightforward for the most part, with very minimal overdubs.
BTR: Here’s a tough one: How would you describe this new song in one word?
FN: “Regret” The song’s about the kind of energy that you can get at night from New York staying up until morning and regretting everything you did the previous night. [Laughs] Not that I think it’s a profound experience or something, it’s quite common, like brushing your teeth. It was about the aftermath of one of those nights. I hope the music gives the listener that high of like, “yeah, anything’s fucking possible”—mixed with a more somber tone of, “what the hell am I doing with life and what was I thinking?”
BTR: Thanks Freddie! Anything else we should look out for?
FN: I’ve been playing a lot of shows lately, so I’m just taking a minute to focus on the release for Left Hand Path. You can find my other music on my Bandcamp.
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