Fabulous Furreal Freak, Bro: Interview with Guy Keltner of Freakout Records

Apparently never tiring, even in these times (insert what you will here), the fellows at Freakout Records decided to throw yet another multi-day shindig, the Freakout Weekender, this Friday and Saturday at the new Crocodile. Label co-founder Guy Keltner was kind enough to take a few questions over email.


Seattle Star: Are you a Seattle native?  If not, where did you grow up and when did you arrive in Seattle?

Guy Keltner: West Coast kid! Born in SF, raised around my mom’s family in LA and eventually moved up to the Seattle area. I stuck around for college at UW and fell in love with the music scene here.

Seattle Star: Which Seattle neighborhoods have you called home?  What are your most vivid memories of them?

Guy Keltner: I’m in Queen Anne these days but I’ve spent the most time here living on Capitol Hill. I miss the days when the hill was louder, gayer, crazier, full of artists. It’s awful now, the bars & venues are full of bros, and I try to avoid it as much as I can.

Seattle Star: What made you want to get into the the music business?  Did you make music before you got into the business?

Guy Keltner: It’s in my blood! I’ve been playing and performing since age 12.

Seattle Star: What were your initial forays into the music business, and what did you learn from them?

Guy Keltner: I threw shows with my friends and look where we are now!

Seattle Star: When did you form Freakout Records, and what inspired you to do so?

Guy Keltner: We threw Freakout Festival for a few years and it started to get really popular with the underground rock scene in Seattle. So we decided to form a record label in 2016. We’ve put out around 25 releases since then, mostly from local and regional rock artists, but we’ve also done a few reissues and worked with national acts as well.

Guy Keltner considers. Photo: Sarah Savannah.

Seattle Star: Who were your first acts on Freakout Records, and what lead you to sign them?

Guy Keltner: Smokey Brights was one of our first signings. That band has grown so much! I used to see their lead guitarist, Ryan Devlin, perform with his band the Whore Moans when I was in high school. So we’ve got a very long history together.

Seattle Star: What are your best, worst, and oddest stories from working the music business in Seattle?

Guy Keltner: Weird things happen on a daily basis and the craziest stuff is not fit for print. But I just got back from touring Peru and Mexico with my band Mala Suerte, and I got a nasty bacterial infection on the road. I spent a couple days back home here in Seattle so I could perform with my other project Acid Tongue, and I ended up collapsing after the gig and being admitted to the hospital. They stuck an IV in me, pumped full of antibiotics, and I was on a flight the next morning to LA so I could continue the Mala Suerte tour and play Zebulon.

Musicians are poor, hungry and completely blinded by their art at times. I probably should have taken a break but I would have lost a ton of money and it would have completely ruined the last leg of the tour. The Zebulon show was killer, the dates were a ton of fun, but I was completely miserable trying to recover on the road. This is a pretty good snapshot of a normal week for us.

Seattle Star: What lead you to create The Freakout Weekender?  Had you done similar festivals in the past?

Guy Keltner: We just wanted an excuse to work with the new Crocodile and try something different!

Seattle Star: What is The Freakout Weekender and how is it structured?

Guy Keltner: It’s a two-day, multi-cultural rock & roll festival encompassing a wide swath of genres and representing artists from all over the world.

Seattle Star: How many of the acts are Freakout acts?

Guy Keltner: The Freakout acts on the event include Smokey Brights, Acid Tongue, Beverly Crusher, Biblioteka, Mala Suerte and Margaritas Podridas.

Seattle Star: Are all the acts local acts?

Guy Keltner: Not at all! The large majority are national and international artists.

Seattle Star: What are your plans for the label and for yourself, after the Weekender?

Guy Keltner: We have a load of releases headed your way in 2022, including full-lengths by Mala Suerte, Biblioteka, Smoker Dad and Beverly Crusher. And our 10th annual fall Freakout Festival will take place from November 10th to 13th, 2022. It’s going to be our biggest event to date!!!

Freakout Weekender, 1-2 April 2022, The Crocodile, 2505 1st Ave. Tickets $50-225, available here.

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