The cat was finally released from the bag recently, as ace session drummer Josh Freese was announced as the Foo Fighters’ new drummer. With this has come a lot of explanation to those who aren’t familiar with Freese’s CV (so long, it has its own Wikipedia page).
Alongside the mentions of his stints with Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Sting, The Offspring, A Perfect Circle and many, many others, is the fact that Josh began his playing career as a 12-year-old at Disneyland.
In fact, Dave Grohl even addressed it himself during Foo Fighters’ Preparing Music For Concerts streamed event, where Freese’s new role was unveiled. Freese’s father, Stan Freese is a renowned tuba player and celebrated band leader, who in the 1980s — having already worked in Holywood on TV and film music — was Disney’s Director of Bands.
Josh was enlisted into the band, Polo, where as he told Grohl and the rest of the Foos, he’d accompany his bandmates through “Whatever was on the radio in ’85/’86, which was…we played three or four Huey Lewis songs, we played some Simple Minds, we played some Pet Shop Boys…”
This exposure led to Freese Jr’s profile expanding, and as he told DW (the drum brand he still plays to this day) in 2022 during a promo for its 50th anniversary kits, helped him snare an endorsement with the then-emerging California-based drum company.
But it wasn’t just acoustic drum companies who were interested in the young Disneyland drummer. Freese caught the attention of electronic drum set pioneer, Simmons (now owned by US retail giant, Guitar Center), who enlisted him to appear in a promotional video for its CB 700 series electronic drum set.
The Simmons CB 700 series was initially offered in three configurations: the tom-only SDS 200 (two tom inputs) and SDS 400 (four tom inputs), and the SDS 800 kit, featuring electronic kick, snare and two toms.
Key features of each module included the ‘Second Skin’ control, which emulated the sound of double-headed toms, Run Generator which allowed the player to play multi-pitched fills from a single pad, and the addition of a headphone socket. That’s where the promo video comes in.
Thanks to the convenience of YouTube, the footage — originally intended for in-store use at Simmons dealers, and previously featured on The Vandals' Live at The House Of Blues DVD — is available for us to rewatch today.
There are two clips - the first is designed to showcase the kit’s ‘Silent Practice’ capabilities via the inclusion of a headphone socket. We watch a young Freese enter his room, and don some headphones before being transported to a studio environment, all the while jamming to a soundtrack that’s so ’80s, it could be released as a synthwave track today.
The clip cuts back to Freese in his room, definitely not disturbing his neighbours because he’s wearing headphones, remember?
The next clip, titled ‘Studio Tested’ begins with Freese executing a stadium-ready stick twirl in the same studio environment, while a producer works the faders and enthusiastically air-punches along to the groove.
Young Freese busts out a four-bar solo, while an unknown teenage girl dances along and the voiceover once again announces “Introducing Simmons CB 700: Today’s hot drums for tomorrow’s hot drummer.” It’s scarily accurate, given Josh Freese’s future career trajectory.
As a strange and sad coincidence, Taylor Hawkins scrawled CB 700 on his front bass drum head for one of his final gigs with Foo Fighters at Lollapalooza in Chile. The gag was a reference to the budget drum kit institution by the same name, a beginner drum set that gave many would-be drummers their first taste of the instrument.