interview with Mike Hartsfield of Freewill and New Age Records
photo credit : Dan Rowe
You might know Mike from his work in melodic hardcore legends Freewill (who incidentally put out a ripper of an LP last year), A18, Outspoken and way more, or from his work running STILL one of the best hardcore labels out, New Age Records. If you don't, then you should read this and remedy that.
Straight off the bat, if you were to introduce extraterrestrials to music, what records do you choose?
Thin Lizzy "Chinatown"
NWA "Straight Outta Compton"
Crumbsuckers "Life of Dreams"
You managed to put out the ripper that is "All This Time" in 2021 in the middle of a pandemic. Firstly, what a great album. Secondly, how!? Was it hard to get together to write, practice and record or was a lot of it done socially distanced?
It was hard to find space to practice since all of the studios shut down. Luckily Charlie, our drummer built a mini studio in his garage and we would just lock down for a few days at a time and made progress.
Freewill have technically been around since roughly 87'-88'. The last full length came out in 1988 on the mighty New Age (not counting the mid 90's bootleg). Other than reissuing the self titled cassette in 2016, what the heck have you guys been up to?! Did you ever actually break up?
You're right, we started at the end of '97 and played our first show in Feb of '88. We recorded our demo and "Sun Return" LP both in '88. By the end of '89 Wishingwell Records folded and I quit the band. Everyone kept playing music going in different directions. We got back together to play the Jon Bunch memorial show in 2016 and we just kinda re-clicked again. That was the point were we but the demo out as a 7" (Mankind Records) the "Sun Return" got its first actual authorized release (New Age Records) we did our first three new songs as the "Pedestrians" EP & a split 7" with Zero Eight One (Goodwill Records) then we made it to the otherside (we hope) of Covid with "All this time", our second full length (Unity WorldWide Records) and here we are!
Assuming the world gets back to some sort of normalcy in 2022, are there any plans to tour the album?
Yes, yes, yes! We are constantly reaching out to venues & other bands and trying to have things in place once things make sense.
You came up in a scene that included Insted, Bold, Agnostic Front, Youth Of Today, but I definitely hear Adolescents/later period Dag Nasty elements of melody, especially in "All This Time" (is the title a nod to the fact it's been 33ish years since Sun Return?). Where do you think you sit in the melodic hardcore/punk-rock spectrum?
We have no idea. Literally, honestly no idea. So many things have changed over time, I am just hoping we do our best version of ourselves and what we feel the energy and will of the band bring together and bring out of us.
If there was one song you didn't write but wish you had, which song is it?
When Tigers Fight "L'esprit De L'escalier"
Anything you'd like to add?
Huge thanks to everyone that has checked out the new record, we're super excited about it and to be playing out again. Thanks!