Ming City Rockers originate from the industrial town of Immingham, on the east coast of northern England. The band have just…
Fred Mascherino (The Color Fred)
The Color Fred - Fred Mascherino
- May 24, 2022
- by Email
- Matt Horowitz
- Heading East Records
Fred Mascherino is the guitarist, frontman, and namesake of West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Indie Rock/Emo band The Color Fred (T.C.F.). Not content to sit back and only create the music, Mascherino recently started his own label imprint, Heading East Records, whose first release was T.C.F.‘s second album, A Year & Change. It re-collects 12 singles written, recorded, and released over the course of a 12-month span throughout 2021, plus, some “change” à la two additional bonus tracks.
Throughout his career, Mascherino has played with a bunch of different bands over the years, including Stickman from 1989-92, Brody from 1993-99, Breaking Pangaea from 2000-03, Taking Back Sunday (TBS) from 2003-07, and Terrible Things from 2009-14, as well as brief touring stints with both The Lemonheads on their 2012 It’s A Shame About Ray 20th Anniversary Tour and Say Anything in support of their 2014 effort, Hebrews.
Mascherino appeared on two of TBS’ beloved albums, Where You Want to Be (2004,) Louder Now (2006,) and The Louder Now CD/DVD: PartTwo (2007.) Terrible Things featured Fred Mascherino along with a rotating cast of players, including Josh Eppard (Coheed & Cambria, Weerd Science) and Andrew “Andy” Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit,) as well as members of Once Nothing, Silvertide, VERSA/VersaEmerge, and The Color Fred. We recently got a chance to speak with Fred about his years spent on the road playing with the aforementioned acts and often partaking in mixed bill shows. Our interview below has been lightly edited for general clarity.
The Color Fred’s new album, A Year & Change, is now available on Heading East Records.
Who’s part of the current line-up of The Color Fred and what is each member’s role within the band?
Of course, I sing and play guitar but I’ve had a solid group together since 2019. We all play multiple roles with how the band works. Stephen Angello is our guitarist, but he also mixes our recordings. Keith Gibbons plays bass and makes our music videos. Monte Holt is the drummer and everyone in the band sings live and on the recordings.
What did the writing, recording, production, creation, etc. processes behind A Year & Change typically entail? How were these processes affected by COVID-19 related restrictions?
I couldn’t work much during Covid but was lucky to have a studio I built here. Since we weren’t getting together much, I would generally get a song going and make an initial demo. Then we’d have the guys come one at a time to record. We made a goal of recording one song a month for the year of 2021. The video for Lost & Lonely, our bassist Keith made and it just has him in it. The videos for Crooked Mile and Right i Left were shot just with one person at a time. Eventually, as Covid let up, we wrote a few of the songs by playing together and that obviously helped the process much more.
How did you come up with the idea to write, record, and release a song per month for an entire year, which collectively ended up becoming A Year & Change?
We came up with the idea as a band because we thought it would motivate us to keep pushing forward. Our artist, Jude Ianelli, came up with the idea of doing the Zodiac signs for each single and it just felt exciting to all of us. Once we announced it to everyone, we knew there was no going back so it was a ton of work each month.
In your opinion, how has The Color Fred’s overall sound and style changed and evolved in the past 15 years in-between Bend to Break (2007) and A Year & Change (2022)?
I feel like I’ve always had a certain sound to my writing but my first record was written while I was still in Taking Back Sunday and I wanted it to sound different from what I did with them. The new album wasn’t affected by anything like that. It’s just the best songs that we could make and I’m not distracted by doing something else at the same time. The one thing about the new album is that by making the songs one by one, we were always starting with new sounds for each song. We didn’t set up the drums and track 10 songs. We set up the drums, mics, whatever, new every month. In some ways, it makes it a better record because of how much time was put in. Each song has the specific sound of what we envisioned for it. But also, there’s a year’s worth of us getting better at recording and becoming a better band.
What compelled you to record and release “Everwrite” with your one-time touring bandmate, Evan Dando? (EDITOR’S NOTE: Fred toured with The Lemonheads as part of their 2012 It’s A Shame About Ray 10th Anniversary Tour.)
The Lemonheads have been one of my favorite bands since I was in high school. Evan and I wrote parts of that song the first time I ever hung out with him. We always talked about finishing it and I had hoped it would wind up on a Lemonheads record but like 10 years went by. I just woke up one day and was like, I want to finish this song today. I think it took about a day and a half to track it. I really wanted it to have that 90s sound of their records. It does make me have that feeling that I get from Lemonheads songs so I’m happy it’s out there.
Who’s idea was it to cover INXS’ “Don’t Change” as part of A Year & Change? What was your intent going into covering it?
I do acoustic live streams twice a week. We were in the thick of Covid and I thought, ‘this is a perfect uplifting song for what the world is going through right now’. “Resolution of happiness, Things have been dark for too long…” So I played it on my livestream. A couple weeks later, I asked Keith, our bassist, to play on my livestream and he covered it. But he didn’t know I had already done it, and we had never discussed that song. So we said, if we both love this song that much, we gotta start playing it as a band. And that’s how it went.
Would you mind briefly describing the concept behind the A Year & Change album cover and accompanied single covers?
Well, actually Jude Ianelli, who’s been doing The Color Fred artwork since 2005, he has this antique plate that was in his family and it has all the zodiac signs around the edge of the plate and I believe it’s similar colors to the red and yellow on our covers. This was where the idea started. We knew we would need a cover for each month and we wanted to find a way that at the end of the year, everything could be tied together.
What was the significance behind using the same burnt red/orange/gold and white color scheme across most of the monthly single covers, as well as A Year & Change’s eventual album cover?
See above? (I guess, haha)
Now that A Year & Change has been properly released after “a year and change,” what’s planned next for The Color Fred?
We have a few shows coming up and are booking more right now. We have ideas of how we’d like the next release to sound and I think it will sound a little different just to switch things up. I’ve been really active with our YouTube channel with my series “In the Shed with Fred” and there’s a lot of places that could go in the future.
Can you either confirm or deny a rumor we saw online… is Terrible Things still together and actively working on their follow-up to Terrible Things/Pre-Transmission EP (2010-12)?
Terrible Things is the band I did with Josh Eppard of Coheed and Cambria. He left to rejoin Coheed after our full-length album and then I made ‘Pre-Transmission’ myself, playing the drums and everything. That was actually the first music I ever produced at my place. There was always an idea for a ‘Post-Transmission’ and actually some of it is already written. So, that could always happen but also, I’m still really close friends with Josh so we’ve talked about the idea of playing again. Who knows.
What’s the current status of your other previous bands, Stickman, Brody, and Breaking Pangaea? Can we expect to see any reunions or hear some new music any time relatively soon?
Breaking Pangaea did some reunion shows in 2019. They went great so I think we would have played again by now if Covid hadn’t happened. The Brody guys are all my old best friends and we always have crazy plans of doing things together.
How does it feel to have been involved in the creation of Taking Back Sunday’s Where You Want to Be, Louder Now, and The Louder Now CD/DVD: PartTwo – albums which fans across the world hold very near and dear to their hearts?
It’s an honor. When I was in the band, I never imagined that people would still care about that music all these years later. I wish I would have known. But, it definitely makes me happy.
What inspired you to start your own record label, Heading East Records, and how does it feel to have issued The Color Fred’s sophomore album as your inaugural release?
It’s been really exciting. My goal is to help younger bands. I don’t want the label to be all about me and my music. I mainly want to make it a collective of bands that release amazing music and then lift each other up.
What can we expect to see and hear this year from Heading East Records?
Besides The Color Fred album, we have EPs coming out from Connecticut’s Mighty Tortuga mixed by James Paul Wisner, and Philly’s Amora, which I produced. We also have a full-length coming from Lilito which is my daughter’s band. Everyone has new singles out now and their releases will be out this Summer. You can see more at www.headingeastrecords.com.