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Josh Freese forgot he recorded drums for Avril Lavigne and Melissa Etheridge albums

Josh Freese
(Image credit: Andrew Toth/I Heart Media/Getty Images)

Josh Freese is one of the most prolific drummers in modern rock. With a list of credits that includes Sting, Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, Guns N' Roses, Weezer, Paramore, The Offspring…there was a time in the 2000s where his name cast fear among fledgling drummers entering a studio lest their parts being replaced by the session ace.

With hundreds of albums to his name, it's understandable that Freese - who has just released his solo collection of one-minute (-ish) songs, Just a Minute: Vol.1 - sometimes loses track of his, er, tracks. That's exactly what happened when the session legend performed on songs by Avril Lavigne for boatload-selling debut, Let Go.

Speaking recently to the Appetite For Distortion podcast, Freese said, "You know, this album that I made [Just a Minute], there's two volumes. Volume 2 will probably come out in January or something. But there's a song on Volume 2 called I Didn't Know I Recorded With Avril, and it's a true story.  

"She was a new artist, with a weird name, and I do tons of sessions. It was me and a producer, no other musicians in the room, no artists in the room. The tracks were basically done on a Pro Tools rig, we knocked out four or five songs in one night.

"I wrote down the information to whatever label she was on, Arista or A&M or whatever the hell it was, got a contact name for who I was going to invoice the next day, and then that was done.

"Then months and months went by, and I did dozens and dozens of more recording sessions, and about a year later after her record had been out for a while, someone goes, 'Hey, I saw your name on that Avril Lavigne record.' I was like, 'Nah, I didn't play on that record.' They go, 'It says you did!' I'm like, 'Huh?! I don't remember recording with her.'

"At this point, she was already kind of a big star, but when I worked with her, it was just me and my producer friend Clif Magness, who was doing these tracks. She was just another nameless, faceless new artist that I never had met and never heard of, and her name kind of went in one ear and out the other.

"And there's a lot of those kinds of sessions that I'll work on that never see the light of day. So I did it, and I kind of just forgot about it. Her record started blowing up, and people started telling me they were seeing my name on the record.

"The only thing that made sense to me is when I notice, I'll look around for other names I recognise, and it said like, 'Tracks [1, 5, 6, 10, 12] produced by Clif Magness.'

"And I went, 'That's that session I did with Clif, that rainy Thursday night in that studio in Burbank! It was just me and him. Anyways, things like that happen all the time where I just kind of knock something out.

Freese goes on to explain a similar situation regarding drum tracks he cut for singer-songwriter titan, Melissa Etheridge.

"I was on a plane once with Melissa Etheridge, and we landed at the airport, her drummer had recognised me - the guy that was touring with her - she came up to me at baggage claim and she introduced herself.

"She said, 'Hey, Josh, I'm Melissa Etheridge, I want to thank you for playing on a couple of songs on that last album.' And I went, 'Yeah…no problem!'

"And I'm thinking, 'What the hell is she talking about?' And then afterward, I went 'Oh, that's right!' My friend Rick Parashar,' rest in peace - the producer who's no longer around. 

"We were doing something else, and at the end of the day at his studio up in Seattle, he goes, 'Hey, can you play on these two tracks real quick? It's for Melissa Etheridge, and I can get you paid on them, there's something that's lacking on them, I want to re-cut the drums.'

"So we did it, and we knocked it out right after dinner in a couple of hours and it was done. And so I kind of forgot, because it was such a quick little blip that I was like, 'Man, I know I've worked with a lot of people if I can forget [that I recorded drums for Melissa Etheridge]"

Josh Freese, Just a Minute: Vol.1 is out now.