Asian Fred, the new musical project from singer-songwriter-guitarist Fred Huang, is releasing a video for the band’s first single, "Jonestown Shuffle," today as they prepare for a July residency at R Bar.
Huang most recently led Of the Painted Choir, a Phoenix band that played regularly in Tucson. Influenced by ‘60s pop, R&B and Motown, Asian Fred moves away from the folkier sounds that inspired Of the Painted Choir.
“With Asian Fred, I feel like I have a better grasp of what I want to do musically and what I want to express. I hope the new stuff shows some maturity in my songwriting ability,” Huang said via email.
After moving back to Tucson, he recruited drummer Steven Yanez Romo (Electric Blankets, Ghostal), lead guitarist Noah Horton (Holy Rolling Empire, Texas Justice) and Kyle Gutierrez (The Swim, The Mean Reds) on bass and vocals.
“The band kind of fell into place and just worked out,” Huang said. “Romo asked if he could join the band on a Facebook post after I posted a demo. At that time, Kyle had just moved back to Tucson from Brooklyn and didn't have a project. One night out, he asked if he could play bass and I was happy to have him on board. Noah was the only member that I recruited. I originally assumed he wouldn't have time and wouldn't be interested in joining another project, but we were hanging out and Noah expressed that he missed playing lead guitar and singing backup.”
“‘Jonestown Shuffle’ is sort of a silly song about bad decisions and the self-loathing that follows. I often find myself behaving poorly, knowing that I'm making immature decisions, yet I still keep doing the same, stupid shit. I think there's some comedy in that,” Huang says.
Huang says the band name Asian Fred “references childhood racial ridicule—playful and otherwise” that stems from his experiences growing up in an area with few Asian Americans, exacerbated by slights over his old-fashioned, Western first name.
Plans for an EP are in the works, but Huang has no current timetable for a release beyond “Jonestown Shuffle.”
“I’d like to try to build a little more of a following in Tucson before we consider releasing anything more official,” Huang says.
“All the guys are great musicians and friends that I’ve known, respected and admired for a long time,” Huang said. “They take my ideas and elevate them. I really wanted the band to embody the concept that the sum is greater than the parts. I feel like this group of guys is great at paying attention to each other and really working to complement each other.”