Houston Music

Free Radicals: "If There's No Money Involved, That's Fine"

Free Radicals have won an amazing nine Houston Press Music Awards for Best Jazz, but jazz really doesn't even begin to cover the 16-year-old Houston group's sound. It's so all over the place that the only category that really fits is the oft-misunderstood "world music," especially on the Radicals' new record The Freedom Fence. In the course of 23 songs, the seven-piece group visits -- lyrically or musically, and not always at once -- Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cuba, Russia, the Holy Land, Mexico, New Orleans, Sugar Land and Houston's own Third Ward.

Earlier this morning, Rocks Off talked to Free Rads drummer and founder Nick Cooper about the origins of Freedom Fence's thorny concept of borders, as well as managing the album's astonishing 48 guest stars including Little Joe Washington, local rappers Niyat and H.I.S.D., Nigerian poet Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde and Cuban hip-hop group Krudas. Here he talks about some of his collaborators, determining the style for a specific song and the surprising places the Radicals' music has been used.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray