Profile: Jason Braatz of Tech-Proggers Freighter


Batshit crazy is one way to describe the tech/prog/core explosion of Freighter’s second effort The Den. But, that would completely understate just how cohesive the colorful vocals, slamming riffs, and complex songsmithery are as a whole across these eight tracks. I am fully aware that cohesive and crazy normally wouldn’t share the same space but take the complex grindesque feel of “Presto Change-O” and follow it with the insane melody (and horns!) of “Hot Car Death Dad” and those two descriptors make complete sense. We recently had the chance to ask co-founder and bassist Jason Braatz our set of Profile questions in an effort to peer behind the scenes of Freighter so head below to get the scoop and don’t forget to open your mind and snag a copy from the links contained within.


How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

I started as a fifth-grader playing bass in orchestra, and was lucky enough to be in a public school district that had an excellent music program. We had a great jazz program (got to play at Lincoln Center, even!) but the thing that probably had the most influence on me as a kid was the band that played at sporting events. It wasn’t the all horns and drums thing that most are, this was more of an R&B band with singers and a horn section. It was invaluable early practice learning how to lead a band and push songs around on bass, how to lock in with a drummer, how to schlep gear and wrap cables, and how to play music when no one gives a shit that you’re there (and sometimes when people are actively hostile to you being there – it’s band nerds at a sports thing, after all.)

As far as success goes, I don’t know. So much of what happens after you put things out into the world is up to luck and circumstances, but I still have a tremendous amount of pride looking back at everything I’ve been lucky enough to work on. I get to do music with people I love and who I think are amazing musicians, and don’t have to do anything I don’t love, so I suppose that’s success!

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)

We once got the plug pulled on us in Chicago, while splitting a show with a friend’s band that was not a metal band, and who didn’t tell the venue what we sounded like. We hit and the crowd evaporated. Whoops.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

So much great stuff! I love the diversity of technical music right now. So many amazing players and unique influences. And I really appreciate how many of them are hustlers, too, with signature gear, YouTube channels, lesson sites, producing on other people’s stuff, etc, etc. It’s hard out there and it’s good to see what diversifying your business endeavors looks like.

The worst thing is the same as it’s always been – people trying to be the arbiter of what’s “real” metal and what’s not. Also drums that sound like robots.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

This album (The Den) is pretty introspective, and is mostly about what it’s like to be so damn tired all the time. That has a little to do with capitalism and little to do with getting older and trying to grind a place for yourself in the world.

Personally, I’m a horrified onlooker to the cesspool of housing politics in the Bay Area, but it mostly just bums me out and makes me want to check out. It’s so toxic and I don’t know how we’ll ever fix it. We’re just going to freeze this whole area in amber and let people die on the streets so rich white retired folks’ neighborhoods never look any different, but that’s basically the same situation in every city worth living in in America.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

Travis (Freighter’s guitar player / singer / mastermind) actually got me into metal! We were in a weird jazz-rock band together right after high school, and he just asked me if I could play some riff that I suppose the bassist in his metal band couldn’t play, and I could, so I eventually joined that one too. He started feeding me heavier stuff and eventually I kind of looped around from being into weird unlistenable fusion to weird unlistenable metal. I think sitting down and listening to Miss Machine when it came out was the thing that cemented it, though.

My family is happy if I’m playing stuff that makes me happy, so they’re good. I was past the listening-to-metal-as-rebellion stage age-wise anyways.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

I think being a music critic is like being a writer or /content creator/ in general – just write! Get the content out there and don’t worry about how “good” it is, it’ll get there the more you do it.

As far as how to better serve musicians, straightforwardness over everything else. Can’t get to something, don’t like it, don’t have time, doesn’t fit, won’t be able to look at it until X time? Just say so up-front. Anyone who gets feelings over stuff like that isn’t long for making stuff for public consumption anyways.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

We’re focusing on promoting The Den as hard as we can, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

Oh shit, okay! Here’s what I’ve been digging lately:

* Thank You Scientist – Terraformer

* Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana

* Men I Trust – Show Me How / Say, Can You Hear (singles)

* black midi – Schlagenheim

* Better Angels – John McLean

* Toto IV 

* Meth. – I Love You EP

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

The Den comes out 7.12.2019, and then a day later we’re playing Mathcore Indexfest 2019 in Oakland, which is our first live show in an exceptionally long time. It has an awesome lineup of bands and we’re so excited about it.

Past that, I’m hoping we can stack small successes and get to a point where we can do some longer West Coast swings, but we’re taking things one step at a time.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the publication)


Many thanks to Jason and Freighter for their time!

The Den is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Freighter, visit their official website.

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