Fred Abong is one of the unsung heroes of the #indie music scene. Having honed his musical skills in bands such as Throwing Muses and Belly, Fred has become a true multi-instrumentalist as well as an extremely accomplished singer/songwriter. With his latest EP titled ‘Homeless’, Fred strips the music down to its bare essence and, in less than a month, releases a solid track-by-track showing of true musicianship.
Today, we talk with Fred about his beginnings, his music, ‘Homeless’, and his other career as a Ph.D. level career as a teacher of Humanities. Fred Abong is truly the embodiment of the evolution of revolution!
Fred Abong, best known as the former bass player for the influential art-punk band Throwing Muses and Grammy-nominated alt-rock band Belly, has announced he will release his debut solo EP, entitled ‘Homeless’.
Comprised of six tracks, entirely performed by Abong and recorded in Rhode Island, this album will be released on June 29. Having been immersed in academia for the last eight years or so, Abong was inspired to record this album by his friend and former Throwing Muses bandmate Kristin Hersh, who has been releasing solo albums since 1994 (her debut solo album featured Michael Stipe of R.E.M.).
“I find the process of songwriting totally mysterious. Beyond a general feeling of ‘fullness’ that sometimes shows up when I have a guitar in my hand or even when I’m just walking, I couldn’t explain where the inspiration comes from, either for a song or anything else that is filed under ‘art’. I do, however, get images that are then translated into words or lyrics (hopefully, the ‘right’ words) as well as into rhythmic melodies,” says Fred Abong.
Prior to being in Throwing Muses and Belly, Fred was active as a drummer and bass player in numerous bands centered on the Newport, RI hardcore punk scene, which gave rise to bands like Vicious Circle and Verbal Assault. Partly because of these DIY roots, Fred left the music ‘business’ after the release of Belly’s ‘Star’ in 1992, choosing instead to quietly and independently pursue his own music.
Since then, Fred has written dozens of songs, of which only a few have been recorded. Of the songs that he has managed to record, they are primarily demos and often feature Fred playing every instrument.
Abong’s music has been described as a cross between “ragged Replacements and lyric-driven Bob Dylan,” and as “Elliott Smith with balls”. Most recently, Fred collaborated with Tanya Donelly, the former bandmate in both Throwing Muses and Belly, on the song ‘Snow Goose and Me’ for her 2016 ‘Swan Song’ series. ABC News dubbed this track “a moody, expressive bit of songwriting that will demand repeat listens”.
In addition to his musical interests, Fred also recently completed a Ph.D. in Humanities and has, for the past six years, been working as an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies, Philosophy, and English Departments at various universities.
In support of the EP release, Fred will be touring the UK in mid-June 2018 with Kristin Hersh, opening a string of shows for her. The tour kicks off on June 17 in Bristol at the Redgrave Theatre and wraps up in Britain’s south-east on July 1 at the Ramsgate Music Hall.