Interview: Fred Mascherino of The Color Fred

by Jack Diablo
In anticipation of his upcoming show at Jack Rabbits, EU spent some time chatting with Fred Mascherino, the man behind the Color Fred. If you don’t recognize the name, you may be more familiar with Taking Back Sunday, his former band. Since leaving the group, Mascherino has been recording and touring as the Color Fred. The current tour which touches down in Jacksonville on August 28th will feature Fred performing solo acoustic shows.

EU: First off, tell us a little about the kind of music you play as the Color Fred.
FM: It’s normally loud rock music. I play the guitar and sing and it’s pretty melodic but I love like tricky guitar parts and those things. But this next tour what I’m doing is actually acoustic so it’s kind of an unusual but cool little thing that we’re doing.

EU: What made you decide to go acoustic this go ’round as opposed to the music you’ve recorded?
FM: Well I just put out an EP called The Intervention and it’s all acoustic. I was doing a couple of acoustic shows last winter and I was surprised at how fun they were and I wanted to keep doing them so we put out the EP on Record Store Day. I’m just touring acoustic like this until I finish the next album which will probably be this winter and then I’ll go back to the full band. But the acoustic shows are really neat because there’s a whole different thing going on and I can interact with the audience and be real versatile.

EU: You were in Taking Back Sunday. What fueled your decision to leave and branch off to do your own project?
FM: Well [I] was just unhappy with a lot of the things that were going on over there. I didn’t feel like we were living up to our potential so I actually kind of wound up doing the Color Fred as a default because I had recorded that record while I was still with them as a side project. It kind of became full-time overnight. Now that it’s been almost a couple of years, a year and a half or so, I’m finally feeling real comfortable with where we’re getting. But we were just disagreeing musically and otherwise, so it was time for me to get out of it.

EU: Publicly, it seemed like it was an amicable split. Do you still keep in touch with the guys and is everyone on good terms?
FM: Well it was pretty friendly at the time and I tried to do everything the right way and I tried to maintain a friendship, but it wasn’t really reciprocated so I wouldn’t say it’s at a good place at the moment. I hope it could be again, but no, it’s not.

EU: Are you finding that your audiences are still mostly former TBS fans or are you picking up new fans who are more or less unfamiliar with what you’ve one in the past?
FM: At first it was definitely all Taking Back Sunday fans, but after I toured with Angels & Airwaves and like Warped Tour, I would sort of find some new people from that and now I’d say we have our own little group that are helping me do what I do.

EU: So how has the reception been from those who followed you in the past, particularly with the acoustic stuff?
FM: I think they’re really enjoying the acoustic thing. Some of them are definitely waiting to get back to the rock, but the acoustic thing is much more personal. I go in with a loose set list and take requests and tell stories and do covers. And I’m only doing it like once in every area so it’s like a one-time thing. So it’s kinda special in that way and it’s definitely special for me. So they react well to it.

EU: How are you dealing with balancing your family life with your touring schedule?
FM: It’s always been tough. I’d be lying if I said it was easy but we kinda all do it together as a family. I’ve been doing this since before I even had a family. We do it in our own way, I just try to spend as much time with them as I can when I am home. Any father has to work, it’s just that what I do is a little unusual. But we make the best of it, for sure.

EU: You are an active and vocal vegan. What are your reasons for making that lifestyle choice and does it play any part in the music you write?
FM: I’ve never really involved it in my music because I don’t really get too political with my songs other than maybe trying to rationalize something else in that same way. My reasons for being vegan are definitely not against people who disagree and I’m definitely not against the farmer and his cow. It’s more about the whole factory industry and the unhealthy part of it. A lot of things changed when we started doing factory farming and I kinda just don’t want any part of that. I also do it for environmental reasons because even just eating less meat is one way you can actually help lower global warming.

EU: So you have a shoe named after you. How did that happen?
FM: Yeah, that was pretty ridiculous [laughs]. Those things should be reserved for Michael Jordan. But I’ve been working with the Macbeth Shoe Company for many years. I always wore their shoes, I always liked what their company was about. And they’ve always had shoes that were vegan, including the glue so I could wear a cool shoe that didn’t have leather or animal products as a part of it. I was always pretty supportive of what they were doing and we were friends at this point and they said, “Oh, let’s do a shoe together,” and I think it was a pretty big success because the shoe that I did kinda caught on and I guess people liked it. It was a win-win thing for everybody.

EU: Is the Color Fred what you feel like you were meant to do musically and do you have any plans for other projects in the future?
FM: I feel like the Color Fred is evolving with this second record that I’m working on. I’m writing somewhat of a concept record this time around and it’s kinda like darker music than what was on my first record, Bend to Break. I recorded the first album while I was still in the other band so this is really the first thing I’m going to be recording where it’s really my full focus. I do feel like it’s getting there now and it is what I’ve always wanted to do. I hope when everyone hears it they agree that it’s the best thing I could be doing. We’ll see.

EU: So what’s next for Fred Mascherino?
FM: I don’t really do anything other than play guitar. It’s been my whole life. I’m just waiting to go on this tour – the first show is tomorrow. Really just looking forward to that and then coming home. I have about half of my album recorded so I’ll finish recording that and then get ready for the next record. The only other project personally I have going on is I have a car that runs on vegetable oil. It’s a ’82 Rabbit so I’m always tinkering around with that. I’m just enjoying being where I’m at.