Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Tom Freeman. I’m the lead singer and guitar player of Covey. Where am I from? It’s a long story. I’m originally from England, and I grew up in England until I was about seven or eight years old. Then, my Dad's work took us to Indonesia. We lived there for four or five years. I started high school there very briefly but then moved to Hong Kong where I spent the rest of my high school days. There’s a name for my living situation. It’s been dubbed,
third culture kids or tck for short. Anytime I meet another tck, its like we’re a big family. We are all very similar people because of the way we grew up. So, where I’m from is kind of hard to say. I like to think I’m from England; my family is from England, but most of my memories are from Hong Kong where I spent most of my teenage years. Honestly, America has become my home in a lot of ways now because I came to the U.S. to attend college in Boston, and I love Boston so much. I didn’t love it at first, but it grew on me in a weird way. I went to Berklee College of Music. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Berklee.
While growing up were you always interested in making music?
Yea, I always wanted to learn guitar since I was young. I’ve been singing since I was a little kid; in school plays, and also in choir. I started learning to play guitar in Hong Kong. Ever since I first started to put guitar chords together, I’ve been trying to write songs. I can remember being so excited and going up to my mom and saying, “I wrote a song, check this out!” She would always try to be supportive, haha. For me, it was so exciting because I made something that was my very own. I could say, "This is mine now." It’s hard to explain. You create this tangible thing from part of your mind. You bring something into the real world instead of just having it up in your head.
What did you study while attending Berklee College of Music?
I went to school for Music Business instead of Songwriting. I was only going to take so much away from what Berklee was trying to teach with songwriting. I thought to myself, “Do I even want my music to be more controlled, or a more faculty-driven style of writing?” I didn't feel like I was going to take away that much from songwriting as a major, so I decided to study something completely out of left field. I knew before I even graduated that I was going to pursue making my own music; but not just make music, I was going to be an artist. That's what I wanted to do. So I said, “Fuck it!" I wanted to learn the business side of things. So, I got my degree, I put it in the drawer; and honestly, I couldn’t tell you where it is today haha. I don’t use it, and I don’t really plan on using it; but I gained so much knowledge while at school, that I do put that into use every day.
How did Covey come together?
I lived with Dillon Rovere (Drums). We went to the same school, and he was my roommate for a long while. He had expressed an interest in playing together. One day, I was selling an amp online and Adam Marks (Keys) stopped over to buy the amp. He never actually ended up buying it, but I did say, “I actually needed a keyboard player though, do you want to come play?” and he was like, “Yea, I'll come through.” We played and it went well, but I was still looking for a bassist. I asked Adam if he knew a bassist, and he brought in Guillermo Goldschmied (Bass). That was was pretty much how it came about. I played with a lot of people at that time, more than I wished I had; but it wasn’t like I was trying hard to find anyone. I was just looking for the right fit, with people that I got along with properly. The dynamic we have right now is so much fun.
What are some of the musical influences for your sound?
The new record definitely has more of a nostalgic sound and feel influenced by bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel and Blink 182. My melodic writing for the new record is very oriented around Enema of the State by Blink 182, which is my favorite album that I found unintentionally when I was a kid. It was the first cassette I ever owned when I had a Walkman. I listened to it every day, going to and from school for years, so I know that album front to back. I listened to it so much that now the sound of certain progressions or certain melodies that they were using I’ve channeled into that folk, pop punk, kinda sound that I use.
Your album streams digitally on multiple platforms but what other sound mediums did you record Haggarty onto; whats your favorite?
We recorded Haggarty onto vinyl and cassettes as well. It sounds wacky on the cassettes; the sound is blown out and has a vintage quality - it's awesome. I love the sound of analog recordings; it's my favorite way to listen to the record. Honestly, if money wasn’t necessary, I'd give away every single cassette, every single vinyl, and every single thing we sell. I'd rather them be in people’s hands than have the money in my hands. I spent so much time making the art for the cassettes. I make them all by hand, and I’m so happy with how they came out. I want them to be a collectible. With the new record, I’ll make 25 total cassettes, 5 of each design; and once they are gone, they are gone. I love crafting, and I’m going to make them for every single album that comes out. I just want to get more stuff out into the world.
The artwork on both the album and your social media is very unique how did it come to be?
When I first started out, I worked with a few artists; but I am so particular with what I wanted that I just ended up letting the artists down. So, eventually, because I wasn’t happy with any of the aesthetics or anything like that, I started doing it myself. I guess I'm not happy until I’m doing it all haha. I figured if I’m making the music, why shouldn't the visual aesthetic be part of me as much as music is part of me. I realized there are no rules to art or what you can do with Photoshop. I can do whatever the hell I want, and that qualifies as art. I started to go through old magazines/comics and find things online that I could collage. I wanted to do something more recognizable for the band to create more of a brand-type thing. I’ll take old black and white photos and then mix them with images from all types of mediums, such as vintage Japanese comics; and I'll create little props and things I can put on them.
Then I thought, “Why don't I do this for Instagram as well then?” What I realized when I started to make the visual art was that if you are making art of any kind, it's so refreshing to take a step back from your music for example and to make something visual because I am not as high strung about that. I am very particular with my music; but with visual art, I always surprise myself with that sort of thing because I don't care as much, and it comes out much more natural. I think it's so important for an artist, of any kind, to experiment in other forms of art. It builds you in such a way that one particular form of creativity can't really do. I’ve always liked weird things or things that are like brash or shocking. My music and my art are completely separate; but the longer that I do it, the more it is melding into one thing. I’m diving into weird thoughts that I have or little obsessions that I get and I put that both into the art as well as the music.
What is the song writing process like for you; what are some of the themes?
I draw a lot from life situations. Most recent was when I moved into a really old house in Bellport, NY. It was kind of spooky haha. A lot of the themes are oriented around being in an empty home. I’ve been in an empty apartment for like a long, long time - a lot longer than I wanted to be. It took somewhat of a mental toll on me. So, I've been writing about that a lot. Before we record at a studio, I practice recording at home. I love recording at home, and I pretty much record everything. I'll lay things down bit by bit. People are doing that nowadays; it's easy with all the technology that's available. I'll lay the track down, then bring a song idea to the band and run it through with them and see how it feels. Then, we go back and add things. I'll have them come in to record their parts and add anything that they have brainstormed, as well. For instance, I'll write a bass-line and Guillermo will elaborate on it. For the most part, I bring the song fleshed out for the guys. I’m too particular with the writing to let go of control. It’s just how I’m used to writing music.
What are some of your plans for the future?
I want to put out 3 new records in the next 2 years. We aren’t bound by anyone's timeline. We’ve been smart with the money we’ve made, and we’ve put every little bit back into the band. We have a new record currently in the works. With the new album, I have a bigger picture in mind. Once Haggarty was finished basically, it was like I’m gonna sit down; and now I want to start writing the new record. Every song I start writing has the new record in mind. Either it has a particular sound or intention of where it will fit into the record. The big question I've been asking myself with these songs is, "How will this transition into the next song?" I didn't think about that for Haggarty. I just wrote them, and we picked them out. But with this one, I wrote the songs; and I knew the first track was going to be the first track. The new album is very lyrically driven a lot more than our last album was. Haggarty was the first full record I had made, so it’s a little disjointed for my taste. We picked the songs we liked, and I’m really happy with the line up for the record; but with this new one, I am more aware of it as a full piece. Some of the songs on Haggarty were from years ago; and we had to pick and choose from what we had; but now it’s all fresh and it will have a very specific sound.