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Days That Never End — A Conversation with Jacob Montgomery of Freeways

In the Houstonian heat of Hell's Heroes V, the rocker from Brampton tells all.

heavy metal, freeways, hells heroes festival
Photograph by Maurice Nunez

Text by Jacob Sanders (@themetalscholar):


When I first see Jacob Montgomery, the wall of people surrounding him is impenetrable. Nearly a dozen metalheads outside White Oak Music Hall have approached him for a bear hug, a gesture he warmly invites. It’s clear that Texas has gone too long without having a formal introduction to the magic that is Freeways, a rock band from Brampton, Ontario. He’s not glad-handing a soul. Even as we make our way across the concourse to a shady corner out of the menacing view of the sun falling into the West, he’s shaking hands and slinging one-armed embraces this way and that, exclaiming how good it is to see them, and shooting the breeze about how their travels have gone, and what excitement they’ve endured. Jacob is humble when it comes to his music. People sing praise as I stand before him, preparing recording equipment, and ladies cast wiggling two finger waves that he meets with a playful smirk, and a wink. He’s not clad in bombastic metal fashion, either. Looking more like a Woodstock patron than one of the biggest draws to this Southern metal festival, his brown leather vest is immaculate against a cherry red shirt with the sleeves pulled back. His group has just destroyed the indoor stage of the venue, and applause has followed them off-stage, and out into the afternoon sun, where he stands, enjoying his victory lap chatting with one die-hard journalist who has been waiting for this moment for three years.

 

Jake Sanders: On behalf of Heaviest of Art, thanks for joining me here today!

Jacob Montgomery: Cheers.

"True Bearings" (2020) released less than a few weeks into the start of the pandemic, and successfully killed any chances you boys have had of christening the album on the live stage, which is kind of fucked up. Now that you’ve had a chance to play all the songs overseas, and down here in the States — does it feel like the worldwide shutdown slowed you down that much?

freeways, heavy metal, hells heroes festival
Photograph by Jake Sanders

A little bit. It’s a bit of “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.” Who knows, right? Definitely would’ve been nice to capitalize on the steam immediately upon the release, but I don’t feel it’s hurt us too much. I think there’s positives, and negatives. I think it’s also given a lot of people to hear it, who might not have, upon its release. So, I like to look at it positively. I think it hasn’t hurt us in the long run.

That’s the benefit of that. Gives more people a chance to listen to ya in studio, and go “Well shit — I have to go see that!”

Y’all have got a flair for the cinematic. In your video for "Eternal Light, Eternal Night", it features the group sitting around a burning campfire while mysterious women and men in a gorgeous Pontiac Firebird — I don’t how the fuck y’all got that, that thing was beautiful — come hurtling down wooded backroads. But how was the experience for you? Did Sean Edwards and Devon Owens properly bring your vision to life?

They absolutely did! Sean is a very close friend of mine, who’s with us today actually. Him and I brainstormed this goofy little idea over a six month period. We’d meet up once every week or two, grab a couple beers, and just chit-chat the loose idea. It came together really quickly, and organically.


There wasn’t too much thought put into overall concept. The bonfire was done at the end of the street I grew up on, about ten minutes from where I currently live, in Brampton, Ontario. And the Firebird, and the fella that drove it, is a coworker of mine, who I still work with. That’s just his car! He bought it brand-new in 1980, and I asked him. I said, “Steve, can we use the Trans-Am?” and he said “absolutely.” He was a big Triumph fan, into W.A.S.P., he was into hard rock and heavy metal at the time. Once Sean caught a glimpse of him, he said, “Oh no, no, no — we’re not having anybody else drive that car. It’s gotta be him.” He showed up in white high-tops, and a Levi’s jacket, and mirrored aviators. We’re like “nah, he’s set. He’s already dressed to be in the video!”

Domenic Innocente, Photograph by Jake Sanders

That’s disguuuusting, I love it! That’s a beautiful car, too. Showroom quality!

Spotless. He babies that thing.

LUCKY.

Since the start of quarantine, many of us out here have come to appreciate the unofficial small holiday of Bandcamp Friday, which began as a stopgap measure to assist bands making it through the tour drought, and has slowly progressed into another way for us to eagerly lose a paycheck *laugh*.

Amarjot Amrith, Photograph by Jake Sanders

But, how has Bandcamp Friday treated you? Do those sales allow you to focus solely on music? Or are there other jobs waiting for you back home?

Oh, there are most certainly other jobs, for all of us. We’re all committed to full-time jobs, and work more than eight hour days. This is our break from the monotony. This is how we stay sane, and validate our jobs which aren’t always the *most* rewarding. But so long as it facilitates coming to things like this.

Me too. Mind if I ask what you do?

I work for a company that outfits ambulances!

Well that’s dope.

It’s all right. It’s not so bad.

You’re gonna have to outfit Dave Arnold (Traveler), I know that he’s about to be an EMS!

Yeeeeah yeah yeah, absolutely. I LOVE DAVE.

It’s just a bummer he’s quitting Traveler. I was like “God damn man, you gotta do that right now? I wanna see you again!”

Just yesterday announced, I know. It’s very sad.

So, your artwork is becoming iconic. Featuring travel vessels galore, from semi-trucks, snowmobiles — err, ski-doos, of course — and even the classic 1974 Winnebago. However, there’s striking similarities, and a few stark contrasts, between your art, and Germany’s Talon.

*laughs, whilst shaking head*

Between the logo, and their albums, "Never Look Back", "Neutralize"… Is there any truth to the rumor that your art is partially in homage to them?

talon never look back
Cover Artwork by Jens Peter Labus

Noooooo, I have *A* Talon record, and they are a fine band, and I have no qualms with their music what-so-ever. But they are in no way, shape, or form an influence aesthetically, or musically on us. It is purely coincidental. There are very few things you can do with a block lettered logo that have not been done in the past fuckin’ forty years of rock music. Purely a coincidence. I also haven’t seen any automobiles on the Talon album covers. *laughs*

Metallic horses are not quite the same, yeah. Y’all have got conspiracy theorists at-work already! That’s a good sign, dude.

All from Germany. I’ve only heard it in Germany. Luckily, we don’t get any guff for it back home.

I think that’s just the truth that they love you all the same. They’re like, “They must be copying it, I love it so much!”

Yeah, it comes from a good place.

So, "Spark Eliminator" (2021) has been around for well over a year now, and the time has come to beg the obvious question. Now that you’ve played some new shit live, should fans be expecting a new full-length in the coming days? I know we’re all waiting for it.

freeways spark eliminator
Cover Artwork by Wayne Deadder

Absolutely. We are three months into recording our album, five songs left to do on vocals, and a couple other additional layers of overdubs, and keys, but we’ve been working in semi-silence on it for three or four months.

Any title to reveal? Mmmmm

I tell you what — I’ll tease it for you. We do have an album title for it.

It’s gonna be called "Dark Sky Sanctuary".

I LOVE IT. Awesome man, I’m looking forward to it.

What are you listening to currently? What should fans of Freeways be tuning into, and who doesn’t get enough attention in your opinion?

Three big, big questions. I’m forever on a rotating door of listening. Recently, I picked up Loose ‘n’ Lethal by Savage, on vinyl, so I’ve been spinning that a whole lot. I picked up a couple of Thin Lizzy, and Rory Gallagher albums that I was missing from my collection.

Of course. Is it complete now?

hells heroes, freeways
Freeways at Hell's Heroes Festival 2023, Photograph by Maurice Nunez

I’m missing a couple of each. Literally — two of each. I’m missing Jinx, and Defender from Rory Gallagher, and I’m missing the first Lizzy, and Vagabonds of the Western World.

Jackpot. If I had that I’d have already sent it to you. I can’t find Thin Lizzy down here to save my fuckin’ life.

Naw, it is not cheap either.

As far as bands that aren’t getting enough attention — they’re getting plenty of attention, but I think they should be loved and adored by many. Tower, who we just played with. They performed as great of a set as humanly possible. They’re absolutely wonderful.


There’s our friends we just met last year from Germany — Sintage. They have a new album coming out. We’ve already heard a few tracks, and it’s fantastic. They’re the best.

cherokee blood and gold
Cover Artwork by Lena Richter

Our dearest friends in all of Germany… CHEROKEE. Their album’s been out for a couple years. If anybody hasn’t listened to them, if you like us, you’re guaranteed to like them.

And the other one, the biggest one, who needs all the attention in the world because they released one of the greatest albums in the last twenty years, is White Magician. Dear, dear friends of ours.

That one’s been on my list forever.

Absolutely need to check it out.

That’s an endorsement.

freeways true bearings
Cover Artwork by Wayne Deadder

Lastly here, because I had to save the meme for the last one; speaking of your ’74 Winnebago — WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?! There’s clearly a missed opportunity for you boys to be rolling up to a show in your own branded vehicle.


They’re getting cheaper, and remodeling the inside of a tiny home has never been easier these days! Surely that’s something that your fans would die to crowdfund so they could snag a photo op in front of it with you one day. It’s the perfect tour vehicle. So whaddaya say? Can we get a soft maybe on that? WE’LL PAY FOR IT!!

*laughs* Not in the budget, but the funny thing about that is — we had hired a friend of ours to do the album cover originally. A different album cover! It was going to be the Avro Arrow, Canadians might be familiar with it, it was a famous Canadian fighter jet. It’s just around the corner from us, in Brampton. There’s one you can take a photo in front of, in Malton.

"Avro Arrow", Courtesy of Avro Arrow Homepage

But our dear friend, bless her, she was a little late and when it got close to the deadline she wasn’t particularly pleased with it. So we panicked, and we needed to get artwork done. So — we reached out to Wayne DeAdder, God bless him, the individual who did our "Cold Front" (2017) EP cover. We reached out to him first but he wasn’t going to be able to do the album cover. But because it had been a number of months, he now had the opportunity to actually paint it! In a real pinch, we had no other concept for an album cover, and we had already done our band pictures.

We were in downtown Brampton, our hometown, walking around taking pictures, and there just happened to be a now bulldozed garage, and they had this old Winnebago there. We didn’t know it was there. We just hopped in front of it, and took pictures, and it was the best shot of the day! Because we had the band picture of us in front of the Winnebago already, for continuity’s sake, we needed an album cover quick. We got a painting of the old school road just north of Brampton, which was my drive to work every morning, at the time, coming from Georgetown where I was living for a couple years. We said, “Just put that Winnebago that we took the pics in front of, google street view Old School Road, and just do that.” It was done immediately, and we loved it.

The stars aligned on that!!

Yeah, yeah they did.

freeways, hells heroes festival
Photograph by Jake Sanders
 

Freeways hit the road this fall with their pals in Hallas! Check out their tunes for Bandcamp Friday, and get caught up before their third album tears up the skies!

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