Toronto hard rock quartet Free Under Fire are gearing up to release their new self-titled album on November 25th. To celebrate, we asked guitarist and songwriter Justin Paul to tell us about the song "Airplane Over Texas" (and a little about the next single to come!). Here is the story:
When people ask, I try not to be too enigmatic about it. Briefly, the song is about the need everyone has to strive towards (and hopefully achieve) a sense of liberation during times of duress. This song is the culmination of many years of thinking, re-thinking and re-doing. This includes guitar parts, obviously, but also the song structure. In every iteration the song has had, however, it has centered around the power of an Ab chord. Gibson guitar through a Friedman (basically a boutique modded Marshall type amp) and attitude. That's the formula. Our drummer, Paul Risk, came up with the delightfully straightforward bass riff towards the end of the song, and it's this driving riff that culminates in the crescendo that populates the last minute of the song. Truthfully, I had a different idea of the outro when I first introduced the song (one of many, having redone this song a half a dozen times) and, as with every decision this band makes, we chose the idea that would yield the best result, regardless of who, from the four of us, it came from. There is a sadness, I suppose, in relinquishing an idea, because an idea is, by virtue of being a thing that approximates a sort of formless ambiguity, virtually perfect. It's a form that lends itself to the physical idea to come, and letting go of those ideas means doing something tangible, but by that same token, something inherently less than perfect. And even so - the auditory experience is more than the sum of its parts, and worth making.
Our second album has references to all sorts of human shortcomings and choices made against better judgment. Many people who come to our shows never ask about the lyrics, preferring, instead, to focus on the sound and playing, and that's just fine with me. The lyrics mean what you get out of them. Nothing more, nothing less. Your interpretation is every bit as valuable as mine, and that is the strength of a story untold. We opened for the legendary Pat Travers in late 2022 (a great blues and rock player - if you've never heard of him, look him up) and it became clear that, even at that level, lyrics come second. The music, and the immediacy of the sound, is what hits first.
Anyway, to get back to the song - I think it's a little microcosm of its own. You can't hear it yet, but come November 25th, I suppose people will come to realize where this song sits within the 9 song album we've put together. It was recorded during the pandemic, and there are associated themes of angst and ennui within its lyrical and sonic content. This song sits as a facet of the crown jewel that is the exploration of the human experience (however brief). Our second single (coming October 14th, if you're curious) deals with a similar theme, but from the perspective of the liberated. It's a post-freedom retrospect, for all its bitter-sweetness.
I'd like to think it's worth hearing, but I'll let you be the judge.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the band here