Q&A with Freelance Whales' Jacob Hyman

Freelance Whales is a New York-based, indie rock band that grew famous in 2010 with their single “Hannah.” The band released their second album, Diluvia, earlier this month.

Staff writer Meghan DeMaria emailed with Jacob Hyman, who plays drums and percussion and sings vocals for the band, about their band name, tour memories and musical influences.

Diversions: Who are some of your greatest musical influences?

Jacob Hyman: The five of us have such diverse, disparate influences. Chuck has a background in bluegrass, Kevin and I played a lot of blues before joining the band, and Doris was in a punk band even when we formed. Judah draws a lot of inspiration from artists such as D.M. Stith, Stars, and so many countless others.

Dive: Where did you come up with your band name?

JH: When Judah was a kid, he spent a lot of time in Israel near the Sea of Galilee. One day, he nearly drowned, and as he was pulled from the water, a bystander called him a “freedom whale,”
which over time came to influence the name of the band.

Dive: Your songs have been featured everywhere from a Miley Cyrus movie to Chevrolet commercials. Is there an advertisement or soundtrack you would most like to feature your work?

JH: We’d be happy to donate a song to the Obama campaign, but other than that, we try not to think too much about which advertisements we’d like to see our songs in. We appreciate all the opportunities that have been given to us, and hopefully it has helped people find and enjoy our music more and more.

Dive: You’ve performed in New York City subways and have toured with music greats like Tokyo Police Club. Do you have any favorite memories from tours or performances?

JH: In Columbus, Ohio, a fan came up to us and told us that her brother’s favorite song was “Hannah,” and that he had so been looking forward to coming to see us play it, but had gotten sick and passed away before he had the chance. He was very young…about 14 or 15 I think…and her sadness and disappointment was palpable. That night we played “Hannah” as a memorial to her brother, and she seemed so relieved after the show. I’ll never forget that performance because we were able to play a song that we’d already played hundreds of times and channel a new meaning, a new energy.

Dive: It’s been nearly three years since your first album, Weathervanes, was released. Has your musical style evolved since then? How does Diluvia differ from Weathervanes?

JH: We’ve played hundreds of shows together since then, so our style has naturally changed to be more inclusive of each member’s individual style. Diluvia is reflective of that growth. Where
Weathervanes took place in Judah’s dreams and childhood memories, Diluvia takes place in our collective consciousness as a band and a species.

Freelance Whales plays the Local 506 Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. with Geographer. Tickets are $15.50 to $17.50.


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