Never Leave LA

Tom Freund – Truly Mellow, Truly California

I’m not sure how I discovered Tom Freund. Maybe it was Spotify or maybe it was a CD mix an old boyfriend made me, but once I heard him, I wanted more. He was singing about my home for the last six years – California, about the copper moon, the Santa Monica pier, Venice, and surfer boys. I searched for his tunes online and became hooked. They became my Sunday Sessions as I like to call it, my Sunday tunes. He has been defined as “Truly Mellow” and plays all over the world, often with Ben Harper and Bret Dennen.

Tom Freund has contributed to albums by artists Graham Parker, Mandy Moore, and Josh Kelley. He released his debut solo album in 1998 on Red Ant Records. He has released albums on his own Surf Road Records since his 2000 EP, L.A. Fundamentalist MusicSome of his work, including Can’t Cry Hard Enough and Copper Moon, appeared on the TV program One Tree Hill.


Ben Harper and Tom Freund – “Here Comes the Sun” (Photo credit:

In 2007, he released an album of children’s music with artists including Victoria Williams and Abra Moore called Hug Trees. Tom describes his kid’s tunes as a labor of love because when his daughter was around 1 to 4 years old, he would sing to her to make her laugh, dance, or even to put her to sleep. “These moments, songs were just pouring out.”

Recent notable albums include The Stronghold Tapes: Live in Venice, CA, a 2 CD set by Tom Freund and friends and his studio album The Edge of Venice. Some of our favorite songs include: Why Wyoming, Comfortable in Your Arms, Copper Moon, Without Her I’d Be Lost, Wounded Surfer Boy, Cruel Cruel World. Watch Tom Freund HERE for a great taste of his tunes and Venice, California. We can’t wait for Tom Freund’s newest album that will be released June 17, 2014.

His talents are not only his thoughtful lyrics, but the way he plays the piano, guitar, upright bass, electric bass guitar, and mandolin. I get the feeling he has been at this “a long, long time.” His music tells stories, and he sings truths about love and life, and makes me have a deep respect for musicians.

After listening to Tom Freund via my laptop and iPad about three years ago, it was time to hear him live. So, several years ago I caught him playing live in Santa Monica at a street festival. He didn’t disappoint, so off I was listening to him at Hollywood, Venice, the Google headquarters, and wherever I could catch his shows.

Tom was kind enough to chat with us and answer our LaLaScoop questions.

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Tom Freund – The Stronghold Tapes: Live in Venice, CA. (Photo credit: Christopher Medak)


Q: How would you describe your music?   

A: I was raised on Folk, Jazz, Rock and everything in between. I love it all, so I try and play it all, and write the words that feel are true expressions of myself and the world around me.

Q: How did you learn to play so many instruments? 

A: I learned how to play piano around 7 years old and early on my dad, who was a lawyer, played piano and my brother played drums. I took up guitar around 11 years old and I went to a performing arts high school in New York before going to high school my last two years in Greenwich, CT.

Q: Are there certain music memories from touring that stand out in your mind?

  • One gig in northern Italy with Ben Harper where we played in an 11th century castle at sunset, just the vibe of the people and the castle. (Watch HERE.)
  • Playing Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, the Japanese warmth and respect
  • Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia
  • LA – crazy moments – meeting certain heroes while jamming at a party or benefit, like hearing Jackson Brown play on piano behind me who was later on one of my albums – Collapsible Plans
  • Graham Parker who was one of my heroes growing up – then asking him to tour with me
  • Storytellers Tour
  • In Europe I am most known in Switzerland – I opened up for Angus Stone.

Q: Is there a certain process you use to write your songs?

A: Journaling – writing stuff down…I write before I sleep. Sometimes I leave notes in my phone recorder, then I can add more later. I write differently with different instruments…the music thing comes to me and I want to put words to it.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career?      

A: That I’ve lasted this long and I love what I do still and I still write songs I want to hear, and THEY wanna hear.

Q: What are you most proud of personally?

A: My daughter, she’s the best.

Q: What musicians are you influenced most by?      

A: Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Paul Simon, Jobim, Neil Young, Charlie Mingus, Bob Dylan and The Breeders…..then there’s Taj Mahal, Grateful Dead, Jim Hall, Billie Holiday, and Squeeze.

Q: What are your favorite spots in LA? Do you have a favorite place to dine, brunch, workout, or a secret spot?

A: Can’t tell you about secret spot or it wouldn’t be secret – but it’s a hike near the ocean . . and I like to do the stairs for a workout and push ups on the beach. The Stronghold – I feel a void with that place gone. (As many people in LA know, that was a spot for quite some time that had incredible live acts performing nightly upstairs in Venice above the fine denim company The Stronghold.)  I love Gjelina takeout and this No Name burrito place in Venice next to Whole Foods and between Starbucks north of Rose.

After speaking to Tom, it sounds like he misses the old days of Abbot Kinney.



Tom Freund – The Stronghold Tapes: Live in Venice, CA. (Photo credit: Christopher Medak)

Q: What is your favorite song of your own? 

A: Trondheim (and live HERE.)

Q: What is your favorite song or band?

Something So Right by Paul Simon, tied with Amelia by Joni Mitchell

Q: What music are you hooked on now?     

Right now, it’s Vampire Weekend’s latest album and Squeeze – all the records I grew up on.

Q: Would you like to tell us the meaning behind the song Why Wyoming?

A: I went on my first tour with this band called Silos right out of college and basically I met these guys at a barbecue, this successful cult indie rock band and they were like we need you to leave in 9 days. It was a super magical time in my life – literally just out of college – making a living playing music.

On the tour the van flipped and we lost someone really special – this singer was probably 10-12 years older than me. The guy was 30 and had his first deal with Epic Records….He just wanted to get out of LA, leave the sharks behind, and wanted to tour with his favorite band Silos. He was a great singer and wrote really nice songs. Well, the van flipped and he didn’t make it.

This was a moment where nothing looks the same after – no before, no after. The past looks different. I wrote the song a year later coming from the other direction down the highway. I wrote the song while driving with the guitar in my lap. Years later, I was playing that song at a friend’s benefit – and Jackson Brown was behind me.

 “Every year the mounting landfill of new releases that threatens to bury the working music journalists yields a few unexpected gems, and Tom Freund is one of them.” – The New York Times

To find Tom Freund’s latest shows, click HERE. To follow him on Facebook, click HERE.

Tom and Hug Trees for kids is playing at The Americana at Brand Saturday, April 19 from 12pm to 2pm.

Check Tom out in LA Saturday, May 3 at Time Warp Music, 12257 Venice Blvd, 90066.





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