Fred Brum is a Portuguese guitarist well renowned for both his session work and his creative solo releases. Today we are welcoming him to the Aristides Instruments artist roster with a polite and to the point interview.
Aristides Instruments: Welcome, Fred! It’s great to finally sit down to talk about this. We’re very happy to have you.
Fred Brum: Fuck you, Kyle; I mean thanks!
AI: I guess the most obvious jumping off point is how creative your style is. Is it difficult combining your unique techniques and love for extended range guitars with your prolific sessions work? Is having to work within another artist’s vision challenging when your own music makes use of such unique melodies, lots of two hand tapping, etc.?
FB: Not really, to be honest. It could prove to be a problem if I was so hellbent on the all too common “must showcase all the techniques” approach or felt that I had to leave a very distinct mark that would scream “Fred is playing” to the listener, but in all fairness, that would be a rather immature and ego driven to approach a track, and your role is to fit the vision for the track first and foremost.
Eventually, you’ll have these windows of opportunity along the session where something quirkier may feel right for the song, and you can often use your own style to sculpt those passages so that the direction you take them ends up having a rather personal mark, whether it is by adding a melody that really plays with the voice in a certain way or perhaps a repeating tapped motif that adds a rhythmic nuance, and that is often so subtle and song driven people only realize what’s going on when they see you performing it.
AI: So that’s where we come into play. You’ve used a lot of guitars over the years chasing the demands of your playstyle. How did you decide on Aristides?
FB: The whole Aristides story is kind of funny, as my interest in the brand was a result of someone sending me a message on Facebook saying something along the lines “Hey, aren’t you interested in composite guitars and that sort of thing? Check this out!” and it just so happened that “this” was the rendering of the 070. I did some research on the internet and ended up on the Aristides site, and from there, Facebook, and started picking Pascal’s brains about the instrument they were producing, what the goal of Arium was, tonewise, and a lot of geek talk (looking back, considering Pascal only strums Kelly Family songs, I now realize the error of my ways).
I was sent one of the early prototypes, and reviewed it while Pascal was on Skype with one of the most heart warming “please don’t say it’s shit” faces I’ve ever seen. To be fair, he had no reason to, as the guitar was (and is, mind you) excellent, and was perfect after a simple pickup swap to something more in line with my own taste - Arium’s tonal properties fitting guitar tones extremely well definitely made it the first composite guitar that made me grin happily as opposed to just releasing a condescending sigh when engaging a heavier rock or metal tone, as a lot of past experiences show that sometimes the attempt to create “super-woods” results in too much of everything in terms of frequencies. Also, the sustain on these things is unreal.
That very same guitar has many, many gigs and battle scars on it more than 3 years later and has been a staple in my arsenal ever since - I was pretty sold on the tonal virtues of the material and craftsmanship before, and I am quite happy with the resilience and stability of these guitars on the road. I currently own pretty much one of each model except for the 080 (I have a 080s, so the 8-string part is covered, fear not), and the only one that hasn’t been systematically beaten up live or in the studio is actually the 080s as it’s too new to have been through a lot of punishment.
After a while, I noticed that my Aristides guitars ended up being used in both live and studio situations without me ever thinking about it - I’d just pick whatever would fit the job and took it along with me, and if you start going for the same guitars over and over because they somehow feel “right” to you, then it is quite likely that it means something.
In the end of it all, the decision to go with Aristides is tied to more than the objective qualities of the instruments. While the quality is really up there with the best of them, and that in turn allows me to select the “voice” I feel is working best for me with no reservations, a lot of how I work with companies goes beyond that, namely the relationship with the company itself, how support works, how we can feed off each others’ feedback, and Aristides went beyond that to the point of having a bunch of real life friends in there with a lot in common, with our constant mutual trolling, jokes galore and the like ensuring there are always good times to be had while being incredibly professional. Except Pascal. And Ferdinand. And Erik. And Tim. And… Ok, scratch the “professional” bit.
AI: Well that’s awesome and all, but what’s the secret to your beard?
FB: Having functional testicles most definitely helps. The rest is down to taking good care of it by feeding it trolls and keeping it well hydrated with their delicious tears. It also likes to consume people with outrageous V-necks. Don’t you run away now…
AI: Good to know! So what’s on the horizon for Fred Brum? We’re excited to hear the music you’ll be making with our instruments.
FB: Right now, I’m pretty much done with the sessions I had pending, so it’s time to go for the more than late video demos for quite a few very cool products and to sort what tracks I want to go with for my next solo release, which should happen this year. I am also putting together some ideas for a different thing involving vocals and whatnot, but you’ll have to wait a bit for that one, as I want it to be a more band oriented effort as opposed to a simple “Fred says” affair.
Other than that, what I’ll be doing with your instruments is the same as what I have since 2013, namely to beat the living crap out of them and have them survive for another round of abuse and glorious tone!
AI: Thanks so much for your time, Fred.
FB: Not so fast, Glitterboy…