Cloudship: Brandon Freeman by Eileen Shapiro

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Fabulous Fresno duo “Cloudship” has recently released their new album entitled, “A Series of Fortunate Events”, with a a big single, “Golden Gate”, that’s really making some noise out there, via Spectra Music Group. Their sound is big and explosive, with a powerful relentless beat, however when they go acoustic, their sound is just as powerful.

Consisting of Brandon Freeman and Jonathan Napoles, the two really deliver, doing the job of numerous musicians.

I spoke with vocalist Brandon Freeman who I found to be awesomely entertaining, and a regular blast to chat with. This is a cool duo to watch out for…..

I’ve noticed that you play a lot of gigs.

We play an average of 2 1/2 gigs a week.

Tell me about your band.

Johnathan, that’s my bandmate, he and I were veterans of the Fresno music scene. He’d been around for about 10/12 years, and I’ve been around for that long. We always saw each other around and heard each other’s work, and hung out at shows and this and that, but never actually got to work together. His band was on a hiatus of sorts. He was in a band with his brother and his brother had a kid, so that kind of put a damper on things. My band just kind of fell apart, getting managerial positions at record stores and such, and doing the grown-up thing. Me I’m a Toys “R” Us kid. I needed to move out of my apartment one day, and Jonathan had this big old white van that he toured with. So I called him and asked him if he still had that big old van, and told him I needed to move some stuff. So he came and helped me out. Then we ask each other what we were doing, and the answer was nothing. So I said, “Let’s jam”. It’s been that way ever since. We haven’t stopped. That’s about 4 1/2 years ago.

So there are only the two of you?

Yes, just the two of us. We do the job of about 5 or 6 musicians. 
That’s a big sound for just the two of you. Do you write your songs together?
Yes we do. Mostly he’ll be just noodling around and I’ll say, “Hey, what was that”? He will say, “I don’t know”. Then I’ll say, “Good, play it again”. I’ll put drums to it, or a vocal melody, or anything like that. The song is born. I call him, “the riff machine”, it’s really cliché and an annoying thing to say but it’s like he’s this vending machine that spits out riffs. I grab one and say, “ You know what, I like this and I’m going to take it home with me”. That’s it. That’s mainly how our songs are written. Sometimes maybe I’ll write something, but it’s mostly just us jamming around.

You work with Spectra Music Group?

Yes, we have a distributing deal. They actually gave us a very, very good deal. It’s the best deal in the industry. Most record labels take 99.9 percent, and you get half of that. 

Let’s talk about the newest single you’ve released. “Golden Gates”.

The newest one out, “Golden Gates”…. we’d been playing that song for quite sometime before we actually recorded it. We went on a couple of US tours. The one before we recorded the new album, we played that song. I promise you, this guy walks outside where we were playing and looks at us. He asked us, “ Hey what’s that song, Golden Gate”? We told him that was one of our favorite songs to play. He said, “ That’s song is going to get you signed to a record label”, and sure as hell, a few months later the album was recorded and we got signed. That song is kind of like our baby. We have stuff that we like more now because we just keep writing music. But, I think that song was a bit of a transition to what we do now, which is a tad bit different from how we started off. 

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Where do you want to be in five years?

In five years I want for us to be an international band. I don’t really care for the super-stardom. I want to be able to go to Target. But, I would definitely like to have international recognition for the band. I think we do something that not many other people do. You have two man bands, but I think we are pretty unique in that we have different set ups, and we make relatable, catchy, fun music, but we show our musicianship at the same time. That’s the formula, right?

It should be. I want to know how you got your name, it’s different.

“Cloudship”…..we went through a bunch of different ideas. I’m glad that we found the name “Cloudship”, because a lot of the other ideas we had were just so based on the sound of it that we were kind of entrenched in at the time. “Cloudship” it’s more of an ambiguous thing. In the end we wanted a vehicle that elevated our current circumstances. 

What instruments do you both play? 

I am the lead vocalist. I’m also the drummer and on occasion I will provide the keyboards as well as playing drums and vocals. This is all at the same time. Nothing pre-recorded, any of that. Jonathan plays guitar and he’ll either play a synth pedal, a synth bass floor pedal which provides bass, or he will actually play a bass guitar. He will split the signal into two, so it sounds like a bass and guitar are playing the same thing at the same time. 

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