The title of the new EP by the Upstate band Finding Freedom is “Genre Is a Social Construct,” and it’s a concept the band spends the five songs on the EP espousing. While there are certainly familiar elements in play, like big, warmly strummed electric guitar chords, moments of crunching hard rock, and even a touch of progressive rhythms and song structures, every song on the EP sounds entirely different from the one before it.
That’s not to say it doesn’t hang together. In fact, thanks to the production efforts of Andrew Oliver (from another Upstate band, Brother Oliver) and the mixing skills of Marshall Hewett of Charlotte, N.C.’s Transit Recording Studio, the sound is seamless and crisp, sounding for all the world like it was recorded, mixed, and mastered on a six-figure budget over several months rather than on a shoestring in a few weeks.
“Genre Is a Social Construct” was very carefully created by the band — singer/guitarist Robert Lindblad, lead guitarist Josh Hutson, and bassist Dan Johnson — to be the best possible introduction to a multifaceted group.
“Rob writes most of the music, and he’ll bring us a song that’s totally different from the last one he wrote,” Johnson says. “And we wanted to have a song selection on this EP that was very varied.”
In order to make sure the EP had an impact, Finding Freedom, who will play an EP release show Friday at The Spinning Jenny in Greer, doesn’t open the proceedings with “God of Your Own World” or “Wasted,” the two heaviest songs; instead, it slowly builds from the more subdued, almost country-tinged ballad “Nowhere I Belong,” creating a path for the listener.
“We didn’t want too much shock factor where you have a song that’s really super chill, then something heavy, then something chill again,” Johnson says, “so we made sure it was a progression.”
Lindblad adds that the way the band approached the EP is the same way it typically approaches its live shows.
“We try to structure setlists for the shows, and definitely songs from the album, so that they flow,” he says. “Music is all about a journey I think, and that’s what we keep in mind.”
There’s an intricacy to the band’s songs that comes out with repeated listens, particularly with Hutson and Lindblad’s guitars. The two weave chords and solos so effectively that it often sounds like three or four guitars playing instead of two. And because Finding Freedom started as a trio with no drummer (and, in fact, the band still doesn’t have a full-time percussionist), the band’s arrangements have more breathing room than most traditional four-piece groups.
“We didn’t have a drummer for the first four or five months,” Hutson says. “We just practiced with the three of us, so we groove off of each other more than the drums.”
“A lot of people start with drums when they write a song, and I’m the opposite,” Lindblad says. “That’s actually what I struggle with the most.”
None of the songs’ various attributes would have come through as well if not for the first-rate production and mixing, which is interesting because the people responsible for those tasks worked completely separately.
“We originally went into the studio with Andrew Oliver and he did all the basic tracking,” Johnson says. “But while he was mixing, we ran into a time issue because Brother Oliver was about to go on tour. And then when we started getting short on time, Andrew actually looked at us and said, ‘You should have one person mix and master this.'”
That’s where Marshall Hewett came in. “He had the stems of the songs, and he was able to do it in three or four weeks,” Hutson says. “I loved working with both of them.”
Finding Freedom w/ Estuarie, The Apartment Club, and The Soulfeathers
WHEN: Friday, April 13, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
TICKETS: $9 adv, $13 door
INFO: 864-469-6416, https://www.thespinningjennygreer.com/