"When you're in a band that's at the level where we are‚ we'll have some really amazing nights where everything seems to come together in the most perfect way‚" says Fred. "And then the next night we'll be playing at a pizza restaurant to 10 people. Those highs and lows really make you appreciate the highs a lot." The contrast must be even greater for bassist Steve Adams‚ best known as a member of ALO‚ a group that will be opening for Jack Johnson at Madison Square Garden according to Fred.
Such stark differences in venue‚ crowd and set time mean Big Light must frequently switch up their live set‚ adapting to survive. With only one full length‚ Big Light keep the same songs fresh by picking several songs each night to stretch out. For instance‚ "Panther‚" the group's 5 and a half minute anthemic slow builder can last upwards of 15 minutes if the night is right.
"We're actually straight up improvising during tunes for the first time ever‚ which is something we never were interested in doing‚ and never found ourselves doing‚" Fred says. "Jamming now has become something really cool for us. We're really letting ourselves go and getting into new territory. But it can only go so far. You don't want it to get boring. It's definitely a fine line."
Fred always seems conscious of that fine line‚ as the group constantly tries to create a fresh take on their lone studio album‚ putting as much energy as possible in to the varying amounts of time they're given on stage.
"(We improv) out of necessity in some situations. We need to fill out the sets so we don't have to repeat ourselves. It's just a way for us to get off playing the same songs every night. It's fun to roll the dice on one or two of them and see what happens. It's kind of an extension of our personalities‚ you just try and draw new things out of each other‚" he says. "I love playing the long versions‚ but once in a while we'll still find ourselves in a situation where we have to play a short 40 minute set and we leave out the jams and go back to playing the more true to album form stuff‚ which I can get off on just as much because you're packing a lot into that 3 minute song and making it try to hit as hard as it can. We have to be able to do both at any given time."
Just as the group is learning to improvise together live‚ Fred is still learning and testing different styles as a lyric writer. Though he's got years of experience creating his own instrumental music‚ he never aspired to be a lyricist until he discovered the songwriting genius of Nathan Moore at a Surprise Me Mr. Davis show in 2004. A Rhode Island native‚ Fred had known the members of The Slip from an early age‚ and when he got a chance to see them play with Nathan‚ it opened him up to a whole new wonderful world of musical possibilities.
"I was totally glammed by Nathan‚ taken aback from the first song I saw him sing. The man had a halo on his head‚" Fred says. "I was more of an instrumental music guy in general. I wasn't a huge singer/songwriter. I had played guitar my whole life but I had never sang a song or written a song. But after seeing Nathan that night I was inspired to sing for fun."
New to the lyrical aspect of songwriting‚ Fred is constantly changing his techniques and trying to learn as much as he can from his peers. Though he "never thought (he) had it in (him)‚" Fred has quickly learned how to use music as an outlet and portray life experiences in a way that sounds great. Animals In Bloom has some promising lyricism‚ and now that the group has established a full time lineup I can only expect that their sound will get tighter‚ their lyrics more captivating. Though they have plans for a 6 song EP around Christmas‚ Fred says the group wants to get Animals In Bloom heard by as many people as possible before moving on‚ which means continued heavy touring. "We want people to get used to the idea that we're around‚ and we're not going anywhere."
Though Fred realizes the group have a tough road ahead‚ that San Francisco coolness allows him to maintain his guarded optimism. "Pinning your hopes and dreams to a music career is really dicey‚" he says. "The odds are against you [laughs]. You're not really looking for success‚ you're just looking to survive and get by. And if you can pull that off then you're already winning."