Liberty Deep Down is Columbus, Ohio native band that has made their impact in a short amount of time. There aren’t a lot of bands that get the opportunity to open for acts like Bon Jovi, Fifth Harmony, Aaron Carter, Jon Bellion, Daya — but Liberty Deep Down has opened for all of them in the past few years. While most were one-off shows, their Aaron Carter supporting gig lasted for a whole tour, nearly four years ago. It was one of the last full-scale tours the band have done.
“It’s very expensive,” vocalist Dom Frissora begins as he explains their lack of touring lately, “and we also need a vehicle for that.” Touring is certainly where most bands make the bulk of their money, but it’s not a easy — or cheap — task by any means. While the band used to have an RV for touring purposes, they no longer have that vehicle, of course making touring a daunting task.
While there hasn’t been a full-scale tour in years, all Liberty Deep Down has done is release multiple EP’s — 2016’s Late Night Calls, 2017’s Electric, and 2018’s 4Get Ur Face — and continued to build their regional fan-base. Not only that, but they’ve consistently headlined local shows in Columbus to great success, selling all of them out but one (which was at the Newport Music Hall, with a capacity of 1700 people). It’s on the eve of their sold-out 4Get Ur Face release show where the band — consisting of Frissora, bassist/vocalist Cameron Becker, guitarist Cooper Bourne, and drummer Mitchell Arnholt — take us through their latest EP and where they go from here.
4Get Ur Face marks a new start for Liberty Deep Down, beginning with the shift in sound on the EP. The band worked hard to grow their sound, which previously had been a more pop driven sound, and add a little more flair to it with louder guitars. “We’re all rock and rollers at heart, but we all love the catchy pop melody song structure and just how those are so catchy,” begins Becker, “I’m personally fascinated by EDM and electronic music and stuff like that, so I was trying to blend synthesizers in there with the rock. Just to give it more of a fresh, modern edge. I think we hit the nail on the head pretty well with this one.”
All it takes is one listen to the opening title-track to see what they mean by adding more of a rock sound to their established pop sound. It’s a big change from their 2017 Electric EP, which Frissora admits sounded more like a solo project. “I think this album shows that we are actually a band, whereas [Electric] sounded a lot more like a solo project,” he states. We jokingly kick around a handful of names for this alternative solo project, before settling on Down and the Downers. “This band is bad ass and I don’t want it to just be me, that’s stupid. Everyone in the band is talented as hell and they deserve the spotlight.”
The story of how the band got here, to this guitar driven pop/rock sound, is not a short one. There have been many tours, many opening slots for large artists, and a few member changes along the way. It all culminated into this moment, this EP, this new direction. The band were aiming for a sound in which they could create where they stood out, and could not be compared to others. “What we were trying to do with this whole EP was try and mesh a couple genres together,” Frissora explains.
In terms of, specifically, how they went with more guitars and louder drums, they credit Bourne –who also performs in the hard rock band Harmless Habit — for this move. “Cooper was super adamant about the drums, and we got to put a lot more live drum sounds in our music which we didn’t get to on the last record. We got to put a lot more big guitars and guitar solos in our songs, which I’m very stoked on,” Frissora mentions,”I grew up as a rocker — we’re all rockers and grew up on rock — so it’s good to show our roots but still have that pop sound.”
There is no better example of this sound they were looking to create than “Temporary,” as Liberty Deep Down masterfully blends pop and rock, transitioning smoothly as any song on the release. There is synthesizers littered throughout creating pop choruses, while Bourne still makes his presence known on guitar all the same.
All of that being said, the members all admit that they couldn’t have done it alone. They recorded 4Get Ur Face with Micah Powers at Bird’s Eye Audio, who they had previously worked with on their Late Night Calls EP. Though they only had about a week with Powers on that last release, it was a positive enough experience to turn back his way for this release. Bourne was once again an instrumental part in pushing for the band to work with Powers again, something all members agree ended up being for the best. “That man pisses me off more than anybody on Earth,” Cooper playfully admits, in regards to how much Powers pushes them as musicians.
In regards to his experience on this release working with Powers, Frissora states that “He’s just as picky with vocal takes as I am, if not pickier so that made me very happy. It took us so long but the vocal tracks came out great because of it. I love when someone pushes me to be better, because I want to be better.”
This time working with Powers, Liberty Deep Down wanted to make sure they got more of the “full experience” and opted to set aside a month and a half to work together. At the same time of recording with Powers, they continued to write and fine-tune their songs. Each week the band would focus on one song with Powers, recording in entirely, and when they would leave the studio, they would go back to Becker’s place to continue writing the song for next week and doing pre-production. “It was a very stressful, very grueling month. I didn’t think it was going to be ready in time,” Frissora begins as he explain this process, “We ended up getting 5 that we loved. We got very lucky and we’re grateful.”
Due to their process of continuing to write and re-write while recording the EP, it wasn’t uncommon for the band to end up with multiple versions of songs. They share that “Nothing Special” had somewhere between 5-10 different versions of it, “Hurting” and “Temporary” both had around 3 different versions, and the title-track was somewhere around 5 different versions at one point. The only track off of 4Get Ur Face that wasn’t changed drastically, according to the band, is “Home.”
With all of the constant re-working and re-writing songs, how did Liberty Deep Down know when to settle on a final version? “When it was getting close to time to drop [4 Get Ur Face],” Becker jokes. “It was the week before we had to record “Noting Special” we had to fix the drums for like the tenth time. And as soon as we got done with it, I was like ‘We’re not changing fucking anything anymore. This is it. If you have anything else you want to change, do it now, because we are not fixing this again.’ Then we fixed something again right after that. Basically until it was time to drop it or record it with [Powers], then he would do a couple changes,” Frissora adds.
It wasn’t just recording the release that made Powers such a valuable asset to the band. Piggy backing off of what Frissora mentioned about Powers making changes, Becker states that “He helped us out a lot with like song structure and making every section of the song transition pretty smoothly. He’s a great songwriter to begin with, so he helped us out with some of the melodies and making the choruses hit harder melodically. Really getting the most powerful takes out of Dom, Cooper, and all of us really. He brings out the best in us.”
If you’re reading this and wondering how their show this night ended up going, know that it went well. To a sold out crowd at Skully’s Music Diner, Liberty Deep Down led a show that was locals only. It was one of their first all-local shows of this size that Columbus has seen in a while, with Bourne stating that “You don’t see big local shows anymore. Typically, at least with bands, I mean you’ll see like 250 cap rooms, but I haven’t seen a local band come in and pack this venue in a minute.” It’s something that the band hopes to continue to do, with the next goal being a return to the Newport Music Hall, where they look to improve on the last show they headlined there, when they drew a crowd of around 900.
With the shift in sound for 4Get Ur Face, Liberty Deep Down had to get creative and find new ways to blend their set together. While some of their previous songs relied more on electronic aspects, there was the lack of guitar the is more prominent on their new EP. This is something that they wanted to amp up on their older songs, to make the set flow more cohesively. Not only for the sake of having the set flow, but the band wanted to make sure they were showcasing Bourne’s talents. “He would just stand there and it was dumb, I didn’t like that. I was like ‘You’re a great guitar player, I want to see you shred’ and he does, it’s awesome,” Frissora mentions on how previously Bourne wouldn’t have much to do during their live shows. “He gives us an entire different, like, element to our set. We’re a guitar band again — or, not again, I think for the first time since I’ve been in the band.”
This isn’t it for Liberty Deep Down, as they plan to keep going full force ahead. With the 4Get Ur Face out, the shift in sound has become the forefront of the future. “We really want to see if people are receptive to it. We kind of put it all on the line with this one just because it’s so out there for us. But I’m proud of it, and I think people are going to like it,” Frissora mentions.
In the near future, they also plan on releasing an acoustic EP. With the acoustic release, they plan on doing a few from 4Get Ur Face, an older song, and an unreleased track as well. In contrast to the recent EP, they will be self-produce and record everything all on their own. It doesn’t stop there, as even moving forward they plan to continue writing for the next release.
Liberty Deep Down have re-invented themselves with 4Get Ur Face, and there are no signs of slowing down. “It’s a big step in a different direction for this band, and I think it shows a lot of growth and what its like with the new member changes,” says Frissora.
For a band already has a laundry-list of accomplishments for their resume, the future has never looked brighter or more exciting. It starts all over again now with 4Get Ur Face and where it takes the band and their fans is yet to be seen, and that’s the beauty in it all.