Roadie gives rare insight into his unusual world
THE life of a roadie is an unusual one.
But it is a life Howard Freeman wouldn't change for the world.
He has set up and pulled down monumentally large stages for some of the biggest bands on the planet.
And with his loyal roadie mates, he then drives interstate overnight and does it all again.
Matt Collins: You are one of Australia longest serving roadies. That must be a proud badge to have?
Howard Freeman: Yeah, I can remember being four or five-years-old and going into a band room. My father had a holiday resort in Melbourne and he had a big band playing. Every year he would hold ballroom dances through the summer because pubs would close at 6 o'clock. The same year I remember my father shooting a guy in the knee who was coming up the stairs to rob us.
MC: All that when you were five?
HF: Yeah, no wonder I wanted to leave home in a hurry.
MC: How did you go in your school days? Did you enjoy school?
HF: At Caulfield Grammar, where my father spent a lot of money getting me educated, I got the lowest score in maths ever recorded in the history of education.
MC: Another proud moment.
HF: Yeah, but that was at 15 and I worked out recently in my last AC/DC concert my budget was $6.5 million, so I faked it pretty good.
MC: Let's talk about some of the huge names you have worked with. Who was the first big act?
HF: The most memorable human being to me was Billy Thorpe. When he started playing rock, he did a song at my venue once called, Cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild woman. I was 18 at the time and I listened to the lyrics and went, 'yeah this for me'.
MC: Your first tour manager job was for a great Aussie band, Sherbet.
HF: Yeah and back then nobody knew what a touring manager did. I had a security business in Melbourne and I could count money, so I could handle myself and I was probably reasonable company then. I had hair and hips and half a brain.
MC: That was all the resume you needed.
MC: Explain to me what 24 hours looks like for roadie.
HF: It depends what era you are speaking. In the 80s it could be behind the wheel of a four-tonne truck driving overnight from Brisbane to Sydney after you've loaded out at 2am. You may find a hamburger on the way, you'd be drinking scotch or Bundy, you're probably smoking a joint and you could've done a line of speed. You'd arrive at approximately 1pm the next afternoon. You'd carry the gear upstairs, you'd set up and everyone would hate you because you haven't showered. And you'd probably do that again in Melbourne the night after.
MC: So why do it? What's the appeal?
HF: You do it for the people you love and work with, which is the band you represent. Somebody asked me, what was the greatest drug I had ever had. I said, when the house lights go down and the band starts playing music.
That doesn't matter whether it's a suburban pub with 20 people, or in a stadium with 100,000 people. You've built it and they have come.