The Free Rock Trio is a three-piece rock band based out of Boston, Massachusetts. The trio was founded by Jacob Keplinger, Justin Siegel, and James Siegel upon Keplinger and Siegel's departure from New Threads in July 2019.
The band has released four studio albums and two live compilations to date, all via Pink Hat Records.
The Free Rock Trio is a rare case of a band that was founded after releasing multiple albums. Originally working under the New Threads moniker, the trio released their debut with Bootleg Live, Vol. 1- a live compilation featuring reworked New Threads tunes also viewable in video format through their web series Bootleg Series. The album featured seven New Threads songs from different points in the band's career, as well as two new tunes- "Bringing Me Down" and "Head in the Sand," the former featuring guitarist Mike Mazzu and the latter appearing on the band's debut studio LP Free Rock. The series was filmed and recorded at PINK HAT® Boston, the band's home studio.
This same room is where the band would write and record the seven tracks that made up their debut LP Free Rock. Lyrically, the album follows fictional Mafia leader Rock Anderson on the run from the city of Threadsboro. He escapes and embarks on a quest, passing through settings such as the Mafia island Bongo and his casino property in Las Vegas, where he is eventually arrested. But he escapes prison with the help with some allies to an inter-dimensional portal called Space Jamaica. Various songs on Gone Wild explore Rock's troubles in accessing and passing through the portal, which is a door between the worlds of Earth and Guyamar. The portal is guarded by an ancient cult, and the band's fourth album New Threads is Dead follows the story of Rock from his arrival in Guyamar onward.
The band started in a tumultuous time- with their debut LP releasing on February 21, 2020, only three weeks before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, things were left in shambles going into lockdown. Jacob Keplinger was able to repurpose two live free jams recorded during the first season of Bootleg into two side-long tracks titled "Back to the Barnyard" and "Laughing Gas," and thus the band's second studio album Buford was born. Released with no singles or pre-promotion on April 10, 2020, it was a controversial yet musically satisfying effort. However, the band knew they needed to reel in their wide array of influences, and got to work on a catchier and more digestible LP.
In the meantime, they recorded Bootleg Series Season 2 from lockdown, featuring 7 more New Threads songs and the new single "Schlitz." The 8 tracks were released as Bootleg Live, Vol. 2 on July 9, 2020, one day prior to the release of "Racket," the lead single from their then-upcoming third LP.
"Racket" would be the first of a string of singles released by the band in the second half of 2020, followed by "Next Step," "Two Scoops," and the topical "Captain Trips." All four singles would appear on October's Gone Wild, the band's third LP. While it featured the most tracks, it was their shortest LP to date, clocking in at just under 35 minutes over nine tracks (Free Rock was 51 with seven tracks; Buford was 40 with just two). It also spawned more singles post-release including the title track and "Bagman."
Leading up to the release of their third album, the trio began The Gone Wild Podcast, which featured the three of them talking politics, music, and much more. They were joined by former New Threads bassist Dan Suarez in the series' second installment.
In the Spring of 2021, they officially migrated all releases from Bootleg Live, Vol. 1 to Gone Wild to reflect their name change: New Threads was no longer, and The Free Rock Trio was born. You can still find the New Threads logo at the beginning of music videos from 2019/20. In April 2021, a music video for Gone Wild's instrumental track "Off the Wall" was released featuring the new band name (The Free Rock Trio) at the start. This was the first content from the group since the name change, but was quickly followed up by May's announcement of the group's fourth studio effort New Threads is Dead, featuring the singles "Slow Emotion" and "Ida."
This fourth album, which furthers the story of Rock Anderson told on Free Rock and partly on Gone Wild, was recorded entirely remotely utilizing the same recording techniques heard on "Schlitz" and Bootleg Live, Vol. 2. The band took a brief hiatus from October '20 to March '21 before beginning work on the new album. This release marked their first collaboration in artwork, with longtime friend of Keplinger Nick Burchard designing the album's art. his was in large part to the band's need for a break from each other, after an intensive period of creative output starting in September 2019 and ending in October 2020. Following a rather explosive episode of the Gone Wild Podcast, the band needed to spend some time apart and decided to take a few months off. During this time, Jacob Keplinger wrote the nine songs that would make up the tracklist for New Threads is Dead (with the exception of "Figure," which was written by Keplinger in 2018). Originally intended to be recorded as a solo album, these tracks eventually made their way to Justin Siegel, who insisted on recording drum takes. Only weeks later would bassist James Siegel get involved, and the trio went and recorded their entire fourth album from home. In the meantime, Keplinger released a single from the would-be solo record titled "Hardship." The song is notably different from the production style on the final album, with drum machines and syncopated synthesizers giving the release much more of a dance vibe than what would be heard on New Threads is Dead.
In May 2021, following the completion of the album, the building that housed PINK HAT® Boston was sold, and the band moved their things out. The band has since been without a studio, which led them back into the live circuit in Summer 2021. Jacob Keplinger wanted to begin recording the band's shows, and after a wacky transformation of a 1970's briefcase into the band's mobile recording studio, this vision was realized. Taking this idea one step further, the band announced in September 2021 that they are committing to releasing every one of their live shows as a Bootleg Live volume, starting with their 9/25/21 Dungeonfest set, which was released the following day as Bootleg Live, Vol. 3. On October 6, 2021, the band released "Slow Emotion 2020," a one-take live recording of their track "Slow Emotion" that was recorded during the tail end of the Gone Wild sessions.
- Free Rock [February 21, 2020]
- Buford [April 10, 2020]
- Gone Wild [October 2, 2020]
- New Threads is Dead [July 16, 2021]
- Bootleg Live, Vol. 1 [November 29, 2019]
- Bootleg Live, Vol. 2 [July 9, 2020]
- Bootleg Live, Vol. 3 - Live at Dungeonfest, Weymouth, MA, 9/25/21 [September 26, 2021]
- "Bringing Me Down"
- "Head in the Sand"
- "Next Step"
- "Two Scoops"
- "Captain Trips"
- "Gone Wild"
- "Slow Emotion"
- "Ida (In the Hills)"
- "Slow Emotion 2020"
- Head in the Sand
- Next Step
- Two Scoops
- Captain Trips
- Gone Wild
- Off the Wall
- Slow Emotion
- Ida (In the Hills)
Unlike the ever-changing lineup of New Threads, The Free Rock Trio's lineup has been consistent throughout their career thus far, with only two recordings in their entire discography featuring musicians other than the core trio. These two recordings are "Bringing Me Down," which features guitarist Mike Mazzu, and "Bongo," which features trumpeter Jackson Keplinger. The core trio is made up of Jacob Keplinger, Justin Siegel, and James Siegel. Beyond that, the only non-Trio members to be featured in a music video are Jackson Keplinger and Evan Norcross, featured in 2021's "Off the Wall."