If it’s American-made genres of music, then local musician Evan Fricke has likely played in a band specializing in said genres. He’s handled the low-end in bluegrass and jazz, rockabilly and blues bands, and even played bass backing hip-hop emcees.
Those bands have included The Big’ns, Salt-Lick Scramblers, One Roof Blues, Diabolical Sound Platoon and the McCurry Organ Trio, among others. Currently, Fricke plays in the groove-jazz band Lizard Head Quartet. But when he is recording his own, original material, he strays from any roots-inspired American music, instead writing, producing and recording a mix of tripped-out loungey funk with psychedelic and electronic leanings. The forthcoming release from The Evan Fricke Experiment is “Fract-Orbit-Al-Groove,” a 10-song release that puts Fricke into the company of experimental groove musicians Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee or The Mattson 2, a laid-back release ripe for Sunday morning hangover listening or closing out the club, cross-country driving, or even scoring a skate, surf or snowboard video.
A first listen and you’d file under jazz. However, Fricke does not consider himself a jazz musician, admitting he’s “not on that level.”
His music is up for you to define.
“You’ll have to tell me,” Fricke said. “It’s interesting being on this side of making music, especially what I’ve been trying to do for the last 18 years of recording things on my own. It’s challenging for me on this end to define it or to know what it is. As a listener of music, I can say ‘this is reggae, this is country’ but I like the person listening to what I’m creating to be like ‘what is that?’ Everybody hears different things, just like we see the world different.”
One thing you can classify him as is a do-it-yourself/DIY dude. A self-taught audio engineer, all of Fricke’s past releases have been recorded in-house, on equipment found or borrowed, with artwork put together without the aid of digital technology, but with the aid of friends.
“I’m usually about 10, 20, 30 years behind in technology, because I usually just find things. I have found recording devices, and I make them work, and then I make them work for me. And historically I’ve been cutting out album covers with a razor blade on a template. Doing the covers, having friends do layouts, having friends do the artwork. Cutting with an X-Acto knife, folding in the right places, gluing, burning the disc. We’re not talking mass production. It’s more of creating it, doing a piece of artwork, close the chapter, and hand it out to my friends,” he said. “And it’s more of a journal, it’s always been a journal since Day 1. A sketch pad of what I’m feeling, thinking in the moment based what’s going on around me, and trying to put it down and then one day maybe saying, ‘hey I have this whole catalog of songs’ and here’s this group of people that want to play stuff without any expectations.”
Having no expectations, Fricke is creating his own definition of the music business, where he’s releasing a limited number of releases for those interested in his sounds that exist in his version of the business – and his version was created perhaps as an antithesis to the “business side” version of the “music business.”
“I used to be sometimes in four groups at a time, five groups at a time, trying to make 20 bucks, 50 bucks, 100 bucks and that’s a good way to put pressure on yourself to get better, to learn 50 songs in a week and figure out your learning process, and learn how to take notes on the songs, that kind of thing” said Fricke. “I’ve done that kind of thing for money and tried to make that work, while having other jobs and that kind of thing, and now there’s this relief from that.”
“Fract-Orbit-Al-Groove” should be released the first week of October.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.