As the sun sets over the parking lot of the Long Beach Courthouse, one of the best and busiest session drummers in the industry is standing motionless, a pair of shearing scissors in one hand, a plastic comb in the other, poised over the head of one of his biggest fans.
An overturned cardboard box serves as a provisional barber’s chair. Josh Freese looks around, unsure.
“Okay,” he says. He’s wearing a T-shirt (“Don’t Mess With Kansas Either”) with black jeans and Circle Jerks slip-on Vans; his blond hair is cut short. His teeth? Remarkably white. “I feel like such a freak doing this. And you know it’s bad if I feel like that.”
Freese and fan Bill Butler are surrounded: Along with Freese’s girlfriend (Nicole Amdurer), a photographer and Freese’s personal videographer, there’s a steady stream of people walking out of the courthouse, staring.
Someone points out the man in the dark suit peering down at the mini-media circus some three floors below him.
DRUMMER JOSH FREESE SELLS HIMSELF, FAMOUS FRIENDS, DINNER AT SIZZLER TO PROMOTE HIS NEW ALBUM
“We’re officially being watched,” Freese says, looking up.
Photographer Susan Sabo convinces the two to move in front of the parked, empty police car. “How ’bout we do it with the police car behind you?”
“How ’bout I lay on the hood of the police car?” Freese counters.
“No, seriously,” Sabo says. “It’s a good backdrop.”
“And then at the end,” videographer Jonathan Rach adds, “we’ll throw a brick at it!”
“Yeah!” Freese says. “Flaming bottle of vodka!”
Still slightly tipsy from the previous pit stop at the nearby Pike Restaurant & Bar, where he alternated between sips of Fat Tire and Patrón with lime and Cointreau on the rocks (Jerry Casale from Devo’s signature drink—a no-bullshit margarita), Freese begins cutting. Butler, perched on the edge of that grubby cardboard box, is getting what he paid $1,000 for.
This story also appeared in SF Weekly, Riverfront Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Miami New Times, The Pitch, Houston Press