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Josh Freese (born December 25, 1972) is an American session drummer and songwriter. He is a permanent member of A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, and Devo, was the drummer for Nine Inch Nails from late 2005 until late 2008, and for Guns N' Roses from mid-1998 to 2001. Freese has appeared on close to 300 records. He is currently performing live with both Devo and Weezer.


Josh Freese was born in Orlandomarker, Floridamarker and moved to Southern California when he was 6 months old. His father conducted the Disneyland Band and his mother was a classical pianist. Freese began playing the drums when he was 8 years old. He started playing professionally at the age of 12 (in a Top 40 band at Disneyland). There he played electronic drums which led to an endorsement deal with the Simmons electronic drum company. There is an old Simmons commercial (directed by Mitch Brisker), featuring Freese on the additional content section of The Vandals' Live at the House of Blues DVD.

At the age of 15, Freese left high school and started touring and making records, first with Dweezil Zappa and then with The Vandals. Freese has worked with many respected artists in the last 15 years, as a first call session drummer and sometimes as a temporary replacement. Josh has a younger brother Jason Freese who plays keyboards in Green Day, has also recorded and toured with the Goo Goo Dolls, Dr. Dre, Jewel, Lenny Kravitz, Liz Phair, Foxboro Hot Tubs, Joe Walsh, and Weezer. Josh currently lives in Southern California with his wife and their three children.

Solo work

Early solo releases

In 1998, Freese recorded a number of songs that he wrote and performed himself (including bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals). The result is the lo-fi, 6-song EP Destroy The Earth As Soon As Possible, released under the name 'Princess' by T.O.N/Stone Lizard Records.

In 2000, the songs "Caffeine and Vaseline" and "Rock N' Roll Chicken" were revived for the 12-song album The Notorious One Man Orgy, this time released under Freese's own name by Kung Fu Records. Guest appearances include Stone Gossard, Warren Fitzgerald, Michael Ward, Lyle Workman, and Freese's brother Jason.

Since 1972 (2009)

Josh released his second solo album, Since 1972, via his website on March 24, 2009. Since 1972 was distributed similarly to the value-added packages offered by Nine Inch Nails's recent releases. Freese's album was offered as a $7 digital download, and a $15 CD/DVD on his website.[93419] As a marketing stunt, the website offers unique incentive packages at prices up to $75,000. Publications covering the offer include Suicide Girls, The UK's Guardian, NPR, and The Boston Herald.

Freese states on his purchase page for the album: "I'm not expecting to sell any of those ridiculously priced packages but I sure did get a lot of good press and attention to the fact that I'm putting out a record because of it! Mission accomplished."

Work history

Freese started his drumming career in a Top-40 cover band at the Tomorrowland Terrace Stage at Disneyland from 1985-1988. Freese has since been a member of punk rock band The Vandals since 1989, and has played on all the band's albums since then, with the exception of 2000's Look What I Almost Stepped In..., on which current Bad Religion drummer Brooks Wackerman deputised due to Freese's commitments with A Perfect Circle. In 2004, The Vandals released a live DVD as part of Kung Fu Records' The Show Must Go Off! series. The DVD is of particular interest to Josh Freese fans thanks to the inclusion of the Josh Freese-cam, a camera focused on Freese for the entire duration of the show, also including a picture-in-picture of Freese's kick drum pedal. The band starting work on a new album for a release in 2007.

Freese played on the Suicidal Tendencies album, The Art of Rebellion in 1992.

Freese was a member of Guns N' Roses from 1997 to 2000, replacing Matt Sorum and signing a 2-year contract. He recorded the song "Oh My God" for the End of Days soundtrack and pieces for the Chinese Democracy album, having co-written the music to the title track. He left the band in 2000 to launch A Perfect Circle with Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel.

Freese toured with The Rattlers during their final tour in 1999.

He was also a contributing musician in Emma Burgess's first album Swim released in 2007 as well as Katy Perry's One of the Boys.

He has drummed for A Perfect Circle since their first album, and is considered one of the core members. As of 2006, the band is "on hiatus". Since then, founder Billy Howerdel has started up a new band (ASHES dIVIDE) with drums contributed by Freese.

Freese took over from drummer Ron Welty for the recording of the The Offspring's 2003 album "Splinter" after Welty's departure from the band. Freese is credited for playing drums on the album, but Atom Willard later took on the position as the band's fulltime drummer. In August 2007, Atom left the band. He would eventually be replaced by Pete Parada. In the meantime, Freese was called upon to record the new Offspring album, "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace".

Freese participated in Sting's "Broken Music Tour" in April 2005 with guitarist Dominic Miller and guitarist Shane Fontayne. The tour kicked off April 1 in San Jose, Californiamarker and ended on May 14 in New Yorkmarker. Josh also appeared with Sting during the record breaking 'Live 8' concert in London's Hyde Park on July 2, 2005. In fall of 2005 he recorded new material with Sting in Italymarker at the singer's Tuscany estate but plans for release have yet to be set.

Josh Freese has recently contributed drum tracks for Lostprophets' third album, Liberation Transmission, recording all his parts in two days. Travis Barker was originally earmaked as the session drummer of choice for the album, but producer Bob Rock, who had worked with Freese before, wanted him instead.

Freese provided the drums on two new Replacements tracks, that appear on their greatest-hits package, "Don't You Know Who I Think I Was".

Freese toured with Nine Inch Nails on their 2005-2006 With Teeth Winter arena and Summer amphitheater tours after the illness of drummer Jerome Dillon. Freese contributed live drum tracks to the songs "HYPERPOWER!" and "Capital G" on the Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero, which was released in 2007. Freese continued touring with Nine Inch Nails throughout 2007 in support of Year Zero, mainly outside of the U.S. In 2008 he worked with Reznor in the studio on The Slip and signed on for more extensive North American and overseas touring with the band through 2008 on their "Lights In The Sky" 2008 tour. Freese left the tour at the end of 2008 in order to spend more time with his family and long-time girlfriend, who was pregnant with the couple's third child at the time.

Freese also completed drum tracks for the band Black Light Burns, which consists of Wes Borland (Limp Bizkit, Big Dumb Face, From First to Last), Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) and Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv).

Josh also played on Rebel Hiss which is the first single from Jubilee headed by ex-bandmate (and ex lead guitarist for Nine Inch Nails) Aaron North on guitar and vocals.

Freese was credited for "phantom percussion" on the 1995 album Blackgrass by Dwarves front-man Blag Dahlia's pseudonym Earl Lee Grace.

He co-wrote the song Chinese Democracy with Axl Rose as well as songs by Queens Of The Stone Age, The Vandals, A Perfect Circle, The Dwarves and Goon Moon.

He played on drums for a small selection of Hollywood Undead songs on their debut album.

According to his website's "True or False?" section of facts about Josh, it is revealed that he "Played on a Courtney Love record but then had his name removed after realizing that he was a jerk and a phoney for taking the blood money.

Josh also played some shows in early 1998 with the band 311 as a fill-in drummer. Chad Sexton, 311's drummer had broken a hand just before a show on 1-31-98 in Honolulu, HI. Josh performed in Chad's place on stage.

Freese performed the drums on Daughtry's debut album by the same title, Daughtry.

Freese performed with Weezer in their support of Blink-182's 2009 tour, as Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson played guitar for 90% of Weezer's set. He will tour with Weezer later this summer and also be playing some live shows with Sting, The Vandals and Devo throughout 2009.

Josh has also recently played drums on Japanese Mega-star Ayumi Hamasaki's 2009 album NEXT LEVEL, particularly the track "identity".

He can also be heard on the latest Weezer release Raditude and most recent Michael Buble record (both on the title track Crazy Love and the first single Haven't Met You Yet.)


Session Kit

  • Cymbals - Paiste
    • 14" Signature Reflector Heavy Full Hi-Hats
    • 21" Signature Dark Energy Ride Mark II
    • 19" Signature Reflector Heavy Full Crash
    • 20" Signature Reflector Heavy Full Crash

  • Drum Heads - Remo
    • Toms: (10", 13", 16", 18") Clear Emperors (top), Clear Ambassadors (bottom)
    • Bass Drum: (24") Clear Powerstroke 3 (batter), Powerstroke 3 (or standard DW logo head (resonant)
    • Snares : (14") Coated CS Controlled Sound with Black Dot reverse (top), Clear Ambassador (bottom)

  • Sticks - Vater
    • Vater Josh Freese H-220 Signature Drumsticks

  • Josh also uses DW Hardware and Pintech Electronics.

Live Equipment

From a 2007 Guitar Center interview [93420]:

GC: What are the differences, if any, between your live setup and your studio setup?

Josh Freese: It depends on the studio situation or the live situation but my set up never gets that crazy or out of the ordinary I don't think. You can pretty much always count on starting off with the basic Ringo 4 piece set up and add from there. With the Vandals that's all I use. With Devo add a second rack tom. With NIN keep only 1 rack but have 2 floors and a 3rd floor off to the left of my hi-hat (with NIN the drums are all about 2 inches bigger than I normally would use.....14 rack. 24 kick, 18 and 20 inch floors.....16 off the side of my hihat. With A Perfect Circle 2 racks and 2 floors, 2nd snare off the left of my hihat....more cymbals with APC too. With Sting there are 3 racks but smaller sizes and only 1 floor. Never too many cymbals (except with APC I guess). In the studio my drums are usually something really basic a 4, 5, or 6 piece kit with lots of snare and cymbal choices.



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