Finding Freedom & Brother Oliver

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Upstate Beat

One of the coolest things you can find on any healthy music scene is local musicians who are fans of other local musicians. When the sense of competitiveness that can arise from fighting for the same space on the concert stage or the recording studio takes a back seat to mutual respect, the community as a whole can benefit.

Happily, there are some great examples of that respect on our scene, perhaps notably the Local Green music collective, a group of supportive players that includes performers like Darby Wilcox, Audrey Hamilton, Kelly Jo, and LOZ.

But there’s another mutual-admiration society going on in the Upstate right now, between the heavy-rock band Finding Freedom and the psychedelic-folk outfit Brother Oliver. Their friendship has created an inspired collaboration in a song called “What Will Be Will Be.”

Finding Freedom. Photo provided.

In its original version, first released on Brother Oliver’s self-titled 2017 debut album, the song is a passionate folk-rock tune with a soaring chorus and a delightfully simple guitar hook that WILL NOT leave your head once it’s in there. As performed by siblings Andrew and Stephen Oliver and their rhythm section Devin Taylor (drums) and George Sweet (bass), the song is passionate and propulsive, fueled by some of the most stirring, relatable lyrics you’re likely to hear on the local music scene.

“God please speak to me,” Andrew pleads as the song opens. “I’m having trouble listening/ I’ve spent my life searching to find there’s nothing missing/ God please speak to me.”

It’s a standout track on an album full of great songs, and it immediately caught Finding Freedom singer/guitarist Rob Lindblad’s attention.

“It just jumped out immediately as my favorite,” he says. “The lyrics in that song really spoke to me, especially in that first verse. That was so relatable to me; he keeps seeking through the song, and the chorus says that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, so the best thing I can do is keep pushing forward, regardless.”

But Lindblad both loved the song and immediately thought it could use a little something extra.

“I thought, ‘This song needs to be heavier,’” he says with a laugh. “We need to ROCK this song out.”

“We” in this case is Lindblad, lead guitarist Josh Hutson, and bassist Dan Johnson (the band uses different drummers), and they got to it, creating an anthemic, hard-rock version of “What Will Be Will Be,” turning it into a chugging, twin-guitar monster while still preserving the melody and main riff of the original.

And once they had that cover version worked up, they decided to debut it in front of the song’s author, Andrew Oliver, at a house show to see what he thought of it. Which sounds like a situation that could’ve gone REALLY wrong. Luckily, Oliver loved it so much that he joined in on vocals.

“It was really cool just to have someone cover our song and be that excited about it,” Oliver says. “They liked what we were doing enough to cover it. It was cool to have them put their own creative spin on it. It warmed my heart, and some of the stuff they did on that song was cooler than what we did with it.”

But the best part of this story is what happened after that one-off performance. Oliver was so taken with Finding Freedom’s version that he offered to produce and mix a studio version of it at Nick Brown’s Greer Castle Recording Room.

“It was an honor that they even wanted to cover it in the first place,” Oliver says, “so I was happy to help them with it.”

And despite his original plan to serve as a strictly behind-the-scenes helping hand, Oliver ended up contributing some backing vocals to the song.

“I was just there to help record it,” Oliver says. “I wasn’t there to tell them to play it a certain way. I wasn’t trying to interfere with it; I wanted it to be their interpretation.”

And in addition to creating a kickass version of a great song, both Oliver and Finding Freedom see their collaboration as something bigger than just the song itself.

“I don’t know what anyone else’s perspective is, but I’d like things like this to be more common,” Lindblad says. “That was part of why it was cool to do that song; there’s not a lot of crossover like this.”

“I think it’s a really healthy thing,” Oliver adds. “We’re all guilty of having a competitive nature on the local scene, and that’s not healthy. This is the opposite of that.”

Exclusive look: Finding Freedom covers What Will Be Will Be by psych-folk outfit, Brother Oliver.

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