Pittsburgh based guitarist, singer, and songwriter Freddie Nelson is the true definition of a world class musician. As he preps the July 7th release of his debut solo album Shake The Cage, the multi-talented singer/guitarist gives fans a little incite to who he is and how he has become one of music’s true gems.
Nelson came to international attention in 2009 when he collaborated with Mr. Big virtuoso guitarist Paul Gilbert to co-headline the album United States. Together the pair wrote, performed and produced the recording that was released in 2010 on Mascot Records. A successful tour of Japan spawned a cluster of four live bootlegs released shortly thereafter. In 2015, Nelson began writing songs for Shake The Cage when Gilbert approached him again to help arrange and write songs for Gilbert’s latest solo album, I Can Destroy. That’s when he met world renowned drummer Thomas Lang who offered to drum on Shake The Cage.
“Most recently, [Gilbert] was recording a studio album, but he wanted to do it live in the studio, so he had to amass a band to do that,” Nelson states. “He called me up again and said, ‘Hey, do you wanna come record this album,’ and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll come and help you out.’ I flew out to LA a few times and sat and helped arrange some things. I wrote one song for his album and we went in and recorded it with the legendary producer Kevin Shirley who has done everybody from Aerosmith to Iron Maiden to — Man, there’s just too many to name.
“I met legendary drummer Thomas Lang during that session and told him, ‘Hey I am working on a solo album and I have some demos,’ and I let him hear them and he really dug them and said, ‘Hey, do you need a drummer for them?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, that’d be awesome.’ That’s how I met Thomas Lang and it brings me up to today with my album Shake The Cage.”
Nelson explains that besides drums, he performed all of the singing and instrumentation on the project from his home studio in Pittsburgh. He credits technology for allowing him to use Lang from across the country.
“Thomas actually has a studio at his house in Los Angeles. I put everything together here, which was hard because I didn’t have a band to develop the songs, so I had to kinda develop them myself, so it was piece by piece. So, if I had an idea for a guitar riff, I would lay it down,” he explains. “And then, I had a little electronic drum kit that I would use to put together the demo. So, I would play a drum part to it and then I would have to go back and change the guitar part because I liked what the drums were doing, but the guitar part didn’t work against it. By the time I got done developing these songs, I probably played from drums to guitars to bass to keys to whatever else I put in it, I probably played each part over 200 times just to get the feel right and to get everything working properly.
“So, I had these demos done and what I would do is I would send Thomas the demos across country. He would listen to the electronic drum parts I had down, he’d take them out, and then he would send me like six or seven versions back of drumming of what he had on there. Then, I would get them back and then I would just edit what he did. Between the six takes, I would comp what I thought were the best parts and edit those into it, and then they fit nicely into the landscape of everything I had going on there. It was a tedious process. It worked really well and he’s such a pro with everything.”
Shake The Cage is as authentic as it gets with musicianship. Despite technology allowing Nelson to use Lang for drumming duties, he says it was important not to rely on it for creative purposes.
“It’s honest. It’s real. It’s genuine. I wanted to get down the emotional wormhole and try and come up with good performances as opposed to rely on the technology,” he concludes.
Shake The Cage comes out July 7th, but it can pre-ordered from Amazon and other digital platforms. Physical copies are available via Amazon and Nelson’s website. Nelson has a record deal in Japan, where he will be performing later this year, but says “I will go anywhere anybody wants me” as far as Stateside dates go.