If you were to create a mold for the ideal rock star band member, it would look pretty much like Freddy Herrera. The native Californian grew up on a Skateboard with long locks and playing in rock bands; most notably as bassist for The Exies before Art Alexakis enlisted him to be a part of Everclear. Incredibly amiable in his personal life, he’s both exciting and dangerous onstage; a conduit for explosions of energy in concert. Anyone whose seen Everclear can quickly confirm this. This year marks more than three decades of being the bassist in signed touring and recording rock bands, which begs the question “What does Freddy Herrera do that has made him such a hot commodity in the music business?” When his band performed recently at the Beach Life Festival in Redondo Beach alongside Brian Wilson, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson & Family, and a host of other legendary acts, it provided the ideal time to sit down with Herrera and dissect the composition of a rock bassist who has staying power in a very turbulent industry.
Frontline Views-Invisible Stars (2012) was the first album you recorded with Everclear. You had previously been a member of The Exies and recorded/toured with them. It’s almost like a second marriage being in a new band…what were the immediate differences you felt/noticed on that first record for you as a bassist?
Freddy Herrera-It was weird because my frame of reference was The Exies. I’d been in that band for twenty years and when we prepared for the studio, we practiced like maniacs. We had to be efficient by financial necessity. Everclear was different. Art [Alexakis] never does demos. He flew us up to Portland for about ten days to work on the new stuff and sketch out song ideas. We went into Sound City and started recording and everything just worked. It was nice to have the freedom to work on stuff as we recorded and it was just as efficient as doing all that rehearsal.
FV-Black Is the New Black (2015) is a decidedly heavier record. Did you have to make adjustments in how you approached the music and your parts because of this?
FH-It is heavier but still very melodic. That record was inspired by Everclear touring in 2014 with Live, Filter, and Sponge. Art and I were watching the show and he turned to me and said, “What do you think of doing a real heavy rock record”? I said, “Hell yeah!”. I Didn’t really change my playing or approach at all.
FV-You’re one of the mainstays in a long lineage of rhythm section members for the band; why do you think you have lasted so long?
FH-When you’re in a band, you have to “get” how the leader want the band run; that's Art in our case. I know what my job is, which is to play the songs the way they were recorded. Nobody wants to hear what I would’ve put into the song if I would have played it originally! In addition, I’m there to put on an entertaining show. Look, this is Art’s band and always has been; not that he doesn’t ask my opinion on things, he does but I try not to be a problem or complain all the time. Man, I’m playing in a great rock band with cool songs and people. It doesn’t get much better than that, so why rock the boat?!
FV-Everclear’s Summerland Tour was a staple of the season for a number of years. It was a chance for fans to reminisce and hear their favorite tunes from your band as well as many others. What did Summerland mean to you?
FH-Mostly, that I get to hang out with the guys in the other bands that I have always looked up to and have fun!
FB-Summerland and Everclear became synonymous for so many summer music fans. What’s the music that personifies Summer for you?
FH-“Saturday in The Park” by Chicago; so melodic and has always taken me back to the feeling of summertime when I was a kid.
FV-You’re playing the Beach Life Festival this weekend; what are you most excited about?
FH-Brian Wilson, a true living legend!
FV-This year marks a decade for you as the Bassist for Everclear; how is it different in 2019 as opposed to 2009?
FH-Well, for one thing, I’m a hell of a lot more tired! Ha ha! Seriously though, it’s not that much different but I do take a moment at every show now to look around and really try to take it all in; I’m be grateful to do what I’m doing. You never know how long it will last, ya know?
FV-Even though you’re perhaps best known in the States as the bassist for Everclear, you traveled overseas with The Exies to Russia not so long ago. What were the circumstances?
FH-Surreal and incredible! The Exies hadn’t played a show in a couple of years (I was already in Everclear) and we just got a random call from a promoter from over there. I thought someone was pulling a joke but it really happened! We played two songs for their version of the MTV awards but they call it MUZ-TV. It was at their Olympic Stadium, which holds some 80,000 people. It was just a crazy experience. We were treated like total rock stars! We actually only played those two songs but we stayed for I think, seven days and just took in the whole city! Super nice people!!!
FV-In a number of ways, you seem to be the mold for what our culture has in our minds of a rock musician. You have incredible energy on stage, talented but not “pushy” about it, always photograph perfectly; is that developed or innate?
FH-Ha! That’s just what the music does to me. Even before I could really play, I was jumping around. Plus, I was sick of bass players just standing there. Get moving around!!!
FV-Every musician has a favorite instrument of theirs, what’s yours?
FH-My all-time favorite bass is my 2004 Sadowsky four string. What an incredible, versatile instrument! I retired it from the road because I was too afraid of it getting damaged with all the traveling I do. My current favorite is a Fender American Elite Jazz bass that I was lucky enough to have given to me by Fender a couple of years ago. Thanks Matt! I love it because it can be played with the active electronics or not. Such a beautiful bass.
FV-Beyond all of the crowds and concerts, what are the things that really bring happiness and fulfillment to you?
FH-Well, I love going to a restaurant called Salsa and Beer!!! I always split a plate of fajitas with my girl Anji and, depending on what I have to do the next day, at least one Cadillac Margarita!!! I’m a real dog lover and I go on walks with our girls around 6:30 AM at the park near our place. I leave my phone at home and there is hardly anyone in the park. It’s like heaven. When I’m on the road and not around Anji or our dogs, ii’s really important for me to exercise. It’s a requirement for me because it keeps my head clear and gives me tons of energy.