Portobello Road’s colourful resident Charlie Freeman is back with his latest album out today entitled: Love. An exploration of love in all its forms, Charlie has created a joyous and optimistic album that will make a great sonic accompaniment to the UK starting to embrace live music events that we have all missed so much. We caught up with Charlie while he’s been recording in Mexico City to chat about the story behind the album, his upcoming acoustic projects and how he’s somehow managed to inhabit his trademark rock and roll lifestyle, even throughout lockdown.
First of all, hi Charlie! How are you? How has the day been treating you so far?
Hello there HOS, thanks for having me. I’m bloody great. Answering you from Mexico City…flew in yesterday from Costa Rica. I’ve spent the day just sat here rehearsing on my acoustic, I’ve got a 5pm TV slot later after a couple radio interviews. So yeah, life is pretty exciting right now and I’m very grateful I can keep the plates spinning in amongst all this global sh*t show! (or ‘madness’ if I can’t swear haha.)
What’s characterised your lockdown experience?
We were this close to getting on a plane to China for a 26-date tour and then the whole house of cards fell. But everyone has had their plans screwed right … yeah, it’s been no fun, but my philosophy has been to crack on and make the most out of a weird ass situation. I started an online music show, recorded most of 2022’s upcoming album ‘FREEDOM’ and then I pegged it to Costa Rica to work on my foundation (the freeman foundation- health, well-being, music, arts and culture) and to work on a side-line acoustic album I am making between albums two and three. I’ve been enormously lucky in this lockdown. I’ve managed to retain a lot of freedom and I’ve defo been on a useful and rewarding personal journey. I’m exceptionally grateful for that. But man … I miss gigs like MAD! Anyway, hope everyone is doing ok. It’s been a right old strange one, eh?
For sure it has – your new album Love will be released today! What story does the album tell?
It’s about all aspects of love. Love for another, a friend or a partner, love for oneself… one love, global love, collective love… it touches on all the different variations of love. It’s bittersweet nature, the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens. With love comes celebration but also downright misery. Mainly the former thankfully … 😉
Which track is your favourite?
Ooooh, good question. It’s got to be ‘Get Me Started’ or ‘Superman’, or good old ‘London Nights’. Can I have three? Haha. Nah, ‘Get Me Started’ is my fave, with this track I wanted to doff my cap to The Stones’ ‘Miss You’, their seminal disco era floor filler, and all round banger. ‘Get me started’ is about keeping going… keeping on having a good time in a cool healthy, fun way. No need to be getting dragged down into the devil’s lair of heavy party use and messed-up comedowns and all the rest.
How has your perception of genre changed throughout your career?
I don’t even think about it anymore. I write the songs usually using an acoustic, sometimes just an acapella melody, then I go to my main man, producer Jamie Brown, and the production fits the song. The albums have got progressively more hi fi, album three (2022) is much more The Weekend, Duke Dumont-esque. But then I’m also doing this acoustic record. I’ll always love the J.J Cale, Neil Young, Bob Dylan sound, but I also like to mix it up. I love so many different types of music.
So, tell me more about this acoustic record coming out later this year – what’s the motivation behind this?
Yep indeed. Lockdown, what to do? I had long days and nights to fill. I ended up having a full-on love affair and reconnection with my acoustic guitar and wrote the bulk of the album last year. A bunch more songs were inspired by Costa Rican freedom and we’ll start recording it in Mexico soon. I’m excited. These songs are as pure as I can get and my plan is to keep releasing acoustic records in amongst the big production band-y records. I’m also planning ‘A/VERSION’ a covers record with versions of Rebel Yell, Mystify, Walk on the Wild Side already in the bag.
You’ve mentioned the Freeman Foundation a few times, what’s its ethos and what kind of work do you undertake?
Four words sum it up. TRUTH. LOVE. FREEDOM. CONNECTION. It’s a foundation that hosts workshops and events at my place, including gigs, art shows and spoken word. We also have a health and music arts scholarship and we’re also working on a large coffee table book, which will act as our best effort to write a detailed, illustrated definition of the universe and man’s place in it. We are collating the best spiritual and scientific minds to write a chapter each. The foundation is all about providing information as truthfully as we can possibly make it. What the individual then does with that information is up to them. We are fun, irreverent and passionate. We are not here to force feed any agenda or say, ‘look at me’. I’ve met some awesome people through the foundation. Good times.
I’ve heard the foundation will be releasing a podcast soon. What’s the theme of the episodes?
They range from health to wellbeing to spirituality to music, arts, and culture. These are the topics we love. We record them on the fly, myself, and my co-host Bailey Lalonde. We chat, ask questions, listen, and share stories. It’s great fun and very rewarding
Your very invested in your local area of Portobello Road. What has it been like to see it open up slightly due to easing of lockdown regulations?
Portobello somehow stayed vibrant throughout. There’s always colour and people … all sorts, people to keep the spirit and party alive. It was a great place to be for lockdown last year, we did a regular Saturday gig out the window, although the coppers did rain on my Christmas gig parade… though I think my letter all about the foundation and free mince pies does seem to have stopped all comms about that 10k fine!!!
What would be on your must-see/visit guide of the area?
The Cow!!! Best pub in London. Mofos tried to close it down. Never gonna happen. The Portobello ‘mafia’ and community is way too strong.
You’re both a musician and an actor. If you could write the score for and play the titular role in a film – what do you think the plot would be?
I’d like to be a kind of decadent James Bond character with a rock n roll soundtrack. Cue Hendrix’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ as I roam about shooting bad dudes with a ciggy hanging out my mouth, haha.
Are you aware of the novel ‘We love you Charlie Freeman’? Has writing fiction ever been something that’s interested you?
Oh, shit yes, I saw that! Weird huh! No idea what it is but I’m digging the title 😉 I’d like to write a very truthful biography one day. We are making a documentary at the moment – entitled How to be a Free Man. I guess that’s kind of a novel in documentary form. I also just finished Greenlights, Mathew McConaughey’s biography. Very enjoyable, I would definitely recommend.
What’s summer got in store for you? What are you most looking forward to?
FREEDOM! Gigs! Fun! Beautiful times with friends and family and of course my band mates. Also, there’s a lovely lady in the picture … so romance and music and good times. I’ll probably stay nomadic; Ibiza I think for most of the summer – maybe see you there! Good times.