Bassist Spotlight: Keith Freeman (Restraining Order, Maniac)

Photo: Todd Pollock

Have you ever seen someone at shows, not know them, but think they rule? I've seen Keith Freeman around for years, and finally got to meet him recently. Miracle Drug got to play with Restraining Order a few months back, and I knew I had to interview him for my Bassist Spotlight series.

Introduce yourself to everyone.

Hey, my name is Keith Freeman!

How did you get into playing bass guitar?

So, I started by learning guitar in 2006. Had a really shitty First Act guitar from Walmart and then bought some Schecter from eBay shortly after. Played guitar for about a year and a half. I was in a band, my first band, called Used Your Head! Sometime in 2008 some friends and I wanted to start another band, and we needed a bass player. Figured the switch from guitar to bass wouldn’t be too bad, so I took one for the team and I’ve been playing bass ever since.

Does your family support your music?

Yes and no. My mom thinks it’s like the devil’s music, but understands it’s my passion. The rest of my family thinks it’s cool, though none of them have really ever seen me play.

How do you write for parts for Restraining Order?

I use my guitar at home to write riffs. Someone in the band usually brings a riff to the table at practice, and we build on it. I always think about what cool shit I can do on bass when writing the songs though.

When you are picking, are you doing more upstrokes or downstrokes?

My goal is to downstroke as much as I possibly can, but it varies on how tired I am; and how many sets I’m playing. But definitely more downstrokes.

Photo: Tyson Luneau

You mentioned playing guitar, do you know any other instruments, and can you rock the bass and sing at the same time?

I know guitar, but I’m just okay at it. I’ve played trombone in school for like 6 years but it’s been like 13 years, so I probably don’t remember how to play. A lot of the new Restraining Order songs I have singing parts or yelling parts or whatever while playing bass. It's something I’ve just started to do really but I’m decent at it.

What other bass players are you drawing inspiration from?

Craig Ahead has always been my main inspiration. I’m a Straight Ahead superfan and his fast playing on those tracks always get me riled up. Always. My other inspirations are Harley Flanagan, Tony Lombardo, and Danimal.

Are there any drummers who have helped change the way you play bass ? 

I watched a Harley video once where he explaining how you always wanna stroke in sync with the drummer. Like the rhythm of your strokes and whatnot, so ever since then I’ve always played bass that way. Depending on the band and the style and the drum style, I’ll adapt my bass playing to it, but by default I like to play bass like in a D-beat band (my favorite drum style of all time).

The first time I noticed you was seeing you at East Coast Supertouch shows a few years ago. Angela Owens took great pictures, and I saw you again in those photos. Pretty sure I finally introduced myself at This Is Hardcore 2017. I was even more pumped to find out you were playing in Restraining Order. How did you join that band? 

Restraining Order was in the works for a while but we were all busy with other bands. We had the idea of Restraining Order for a while but it wasn’t until I saw Career Suicide at Not Dead Yet Fest in 2016; that we kicked it into gear. We kidnapped Pat from his old band, Contempt, and sealed the deal as a New Year resolution.

Supertouch w/ Keith in the front (Photo: Angela Owens)

Are there any cities you have fallen in love with during your touring? 

Seattle, San Diego, and Denver come to mind right off the bat. 

What is your current amp, bass, and pedal combo? 

I use a Peavey Mark III head and for bass I either use an Ernie Ball Sterling bass or this Fender Jazz bass rip by a brand called SX. For pedals I only use one in Maniac, and I just use a Big Muff. For as long as I’ve been playing bass I should know gear a lot more but I really don’t [laughs].

Is there anything going on in your personal life you'd like to talk about? 

Eh, not really. I just work and do the hardcore thing. I hit the arcade sometimes in my free time and play fun Japanese music-rhythm games.

Photo: Daniella Heminghaus

Any new musical projects you're working on? 

I have Restraining Order, Maniac, and AmmuNation going on now. I have a pending new band I’ve been thinking about doing for a couple years now but who knows when that’ll actually happen. That’s all ya get about that [laughs].

What's next for Restraining Order? 

We’re gonna drop this LP within the next couple of months and just go with the flow. We really like it and hope others are into it too.

Photo: Todd Pollock

Finally, do you have any parting words of wisdom for someone picking up a bass guitar for the first time? 

Just keep it up. If you ever lose motivation, keep going to shows or watch videos of bands or listen to any of your favorite bands and just think, you’ll get there soon. Also pay a lot of attention to drums because your drummer is going to be your best friend.


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Tagged: bassist spotlight, maniac, restraining order