For the past couple of years, local shredders Free Reign have been making their case as being the "heaviest" metal band around.
And, with a lineup that boasts the 6-foot-8, 315-pound Dallas Cowboys tackle Marc Colombo on rhythm guitar and vocals, 6-foot-6, 355-pound Cowboys guard Leonard Davis on bass, and 6-foot-4, 308-pound former Cowboy (and current Miami Dolphin) guard Cory Procter on drums, it's hard to imagine they're too off from that honor.
But with the addition of local virtuoso guitarist Justin Chapman, Free Reign has started to become just as intimidating in the metal world as its collective members are on the football field. And, now, as the offseason looms on the horizon, officially getting underway following the completion of this weekend's Super Bowl in Arlington, Free Reign has a new single getting ready to hit iTunes, and a full-length set for a spring release.
Earlier this week, we caught up with band's frontman, Marc Colombo, to see what the band's plans were for the offseason. We also chatted him up about the prospect of his band playing a Super Bowl half-time show one day, and his predictions for this weekend's game.
Check the Q&A out in full after the jump.
You guys have a new single that's about to come out, called "One Step Away." Tell us a little about the inspiration behind it, and maybe what it is about.
It was our guitarist Justin Chapman a few years back [who] came up with the song. He was in a band that was close to having success and never really did. They were kind of one step away but something was always getting in the way. We brought it back and it equates to all of our respective sports -- we want to win a championship, a Super Bowl, and it's just being one step away from your dream. If you listen to the lyrics, it's one of those catchy songs that is going to resonate with a lot of people.
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Your guitarist Justin has been playing for quite a while. How long have the rest of you guys been playing your respective instruments?
I was in a few bands in Chicago. I have been playing guitar for a long time. I played rhythm guitar in both bands in Chicago and I just started singing probably three and a half years ago, just [for] Free Reign. [When] I left my band in Chicago, we actually had two lead singers. I got here, and I was always good at writing songs, I had a knack for that, and I wrote some songs in Chicago, but I never really stepped out into the singing world. Then I just did it and it was great. It was fun, [and] it was a challenge at first, but I'm starting to get the hang of it now and I'm putting down the guitar more and more. I still play on a few songs.
Our drummer Cory Procter, I don't think, was ever with another band, but he played drums growing up. And Leonard Davis, this is his first band. He's been playing the bass for a couple of years and he's progressed. He's worked with Justin one-on-one a lot and he's really done leaps and bounds in a few years what he can do now from where he started. It's just absolutely amazing.
How did you and Cory Procter in particular figure out that each other could play and then segue that into becoming a band?
Cory hadn't played drums for a long time. I used to mess around all the time and tell him I had all these songs and these ideas. So, one time, I just had him over to the house and I had bought a little Mapex drum set just to mess around with myself, and he came over and he just started smashing away on the drums and we made, like, two songs. One of the songs we first started playing to was a song I wrote a while back called "In Your Head," which is going to be on the full-length and is also on our EP. It just really worked. We're really good friends. We started small and then very quickly progressed.
Leonard just came over one day. He had been playing the bass for a few months. He just stepped in and learned the songs that we had been playing. That's when Justin came along. We played a few shows as just a three-piece band. Leonard brought Justin to a show one time and he was kind of the professional. [Before] he came into the band, we were just a garage-type band and his level of playing was so much more than we could ever imagine. He just pushed everybody [and] we all had to elevate our game to his level. Once that was accomplished we just started writing and playing a lot.
What are you guys' ultimate goal for this thing? Do you all kind of see this as a viable option as a second career after your playing days are over?
At first, we didn't. We were just kind of messing around and seeing what we could do. When Justin joined the band, he was really serious about music the way we were serious about football. We made a really good effort with our first EP, we signed a record deal, we played as many really cool shows as we could in different cities, and we had success fast. It didn't last, obviously, because football season came. We needed to sit down and write a full-length album, and that's what we did. The set of songs are a lot more mature because the band members have matured a little bit. We just kind of messed around at first, but now we're pretty serious about what we do. We took a lot of time in the studio to get this album right, and I think people are going to be really surprised at what they hear this time around.
Do you think people who currently view Free Reign as more of a gimmick will start to view the band more seriously when the new album comes out?
Before we put out any music, in doing interviews, that "gimmick" word got thrown out. But once you hear the music... You have guys playing heavy metal, and we love to play music. We're in Texas, but we're not playing country, we're playing heavy freakin' metal. If we didn't love to do it, or if we were a gimmick band, we would be playing cowboy music at a freakin' cowboy place. We really love to play. I have been in previous bands and this is not something we just put together to get popular; it's something we care about. When you come to our shows you'll see.
Do you guys have any tours planned for the offseason? I assume that's the best time for you guys to go around and play other cities.
That's what we've done in the past. Right now, our drummer has a knee injury -- that's just another part of the equation. He's not going to be able to play drums for a while, so we may have our producer sit in. We're releasing this album on our own -- me and Leonard Davis have created a record label -- and we're doing this all by ourselves this time around. Right now we're really concentrating on [releasing] this single and releasing the album in April. We're going to try and set up a big show in April around the CD release party and give our drummer a little time to heal because he's a really good drummer. We will play some pretty good shows. In the spring and summer, you'll probably see more of us.
Thinking about the Super Bowl that's in town this week, what do you think a Free Reign halftime performance would be like?
That would be amazing. It would be kind of funny in our football uniforms doing a Free Reign halftime performance. But it would be really cool -- especially in Cowboys Stadium.
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Considering that people even had negative things to say about Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones' performances in recent years, how do you think the masses would react to you guys?
I think they'd be shocked just seeing guys our size playing heavy metal. I think it's intimidating to say the least. We'd want to make it loud, [and] we'd want to make it powerful. When Cory plays the drums, it is loud and it is powerful and you're going to hear it. Actually, you're not going to hear for the next two days after hearing him play. We want it heavy and we want it loud and we want to shock people a little bit.
Cory is a Miami Dolphin now, how does that effect practice schedules, etc.?
Going into this thing, we know, and Justin knows, once the football season starts, the band is completely on hold. Interviews aren't completely off-limits, the social network sites are up and running, but as far as playing and practicing, we don't do any of it during the season. Every once in a while, Justin or me will write something and maybe send an e-mail to each other and try to get some ideas for after the season. What we've done the past two years is gone into the studio right before we had to leave for training camp and [have gotten] down all our songs, and we'll end up releasing them after the season. That formula worked last time and I'm hoping that it'll work on a bigger level this time with the songs just being better.
Do you have any predictions for the Super Bowl?
I think the Steelers are going to win. They have a long history of great defense and great tradition, and I think they're just tough. Our ex-teammate, and my ex-tackle partner Flozell Adams is on Pittsburgh, so I would like for him to win a Super Bowl.
So it's maybe bittersweet that the Steelers would have a leg up on the Cowboys Super Bowl-wise, but cool for your buddy to have a ring?
We'll tie it up next year.