andrew kruse-ross | home free | july 2018
All-vocal country entertainers Home Free were catapulted into the national spotlight in 2013, winning season four of “The Sing-Off” on NBC.
Their most recent album, “Timeless,” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Album chart.
Known for their unique spin on both classic and hit songs, the group's YouTube views are quickly approaching the 250 million mark.
Returning to Grandstand headlining duties on Friday night during the Outagamie County Fair just days before the group embarks on the European leg of their current tour, Frankly caught up to tenor Rob Lundquist somewhere on the road outside of Ashland, N.C., via telephone.
Starting, I guess you might say, where Home Free first stepped into the spotlight on NBC's 'The Sing-Off,' we see more and more artists stepping up through television. Was that a pretty surreal experience for you guys?
Yeah, that's a great way to put it. It was extremely surreal. For the judges of the show we had Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and Jewel. So that was weird just being able to sing in front of them because I'll never forget that first week. We were doing 'Cruise' by Florida Georgia Line and I made eye contact with Shawn Stockman and I mean Boyz II Men was my jam when I was a kid. It was surreal, so that was a good word to use.
It was an extremely difficult process just because we were out there for like two months. It was 12, 12-hour days with no days off. We say it was one of the hardest, but most rewarding things we've ever done. I don't think any of us would ever do it again, but it was quite the experience, man.
The group has received some lofty praise from many folks, including members of the Oak Ridge Boys. I've had the pleasure of speaking with them before and I know you've been able to work alongside them. Were the Oaks an influence on the group and how was the experience of working with them?
Oh, they're definitely a big influence on us; we all grew up listening to them. Just their harmonies are so great. It was a dream come true getting to work with those guys. We didn't realize how goofy they were — they're just a bunch of fun guys. I feel like they could all be our uncles or something.
We actually get to do a show with them this summer and we'reveryexcited about that.
Your most recent album, 'Timeless,' was released in September. It's your fourth to date, was there anything you guys attempted to do differently in your approach to this album as opposed to its predecessors?
The process was about the same, however, we took about a year longer on that album as compared to the others. We wanted to do songs that we are all passionate about and we got some more originals on this one than on some of the ones prior.
Home Free covers a lot of ground with renditions of classic country hits. I wonder, what's become your biggest crowd pleaser and is there a particular song that's especially significant or a personal favorite of yours? If so, why?
We get asked that one a lot. We don't really do favorites, it's tough to pick out of all the tunes that we've done, but there are some songs that we do every single show. 'Ring of Fire' is one of those and one that we did on the 'Sing-Off' and it's by far one of our most watched videos on YouTube. People just love hearing Tim sing those low notes on 'Ring of Fire.' We kind of took a different spin on it — we kind of put a reggae spin on a Johnny Cash classic. People really felt that that one spoke to them, so we've done that one at every single show over the last five years.
As a group, you've been heavily involved in charitable efforts including in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Your initial gesture really got others to step forward in that relief effort as well. I'm sure the accolades and album sales are important also, but how important is it to the group to be able to assist others through your music?
Oh, extremely important! Tim's family, Tim is our bass, he's from that area down in Nederland, Texas, and no one was talking about that area; they were all talking about Houston — and, of course, there was a lot of devastation in Houston — but nobody was really talking about southeast Texas where he's from, so we wanted to do what we could. I don't remember what our initial goal was, maybe like 10 grand, and we blew past that after a few hours and our fans — really the best fans in the world, we couldn't do anything without our Home Fries — they were extremely generous and we reached $100,000. Tim and Chance got to go to that area just to see how much that money was helping the community. They still have a long ways to go, it's not like they're out of the woods yet. That money's been pretty amazing and our fans are the best.
Can you describe the typical Home Free performance or give us a taste of what folks can expect to see when you visit us later this summer?
Yeah, we like to break that fourth wall and just kind of talk to the audience. We like it to be an interactive show. Just standing up there and singing can get a little boring for people, so we like to get them involved and there's a lot of singing along. It's a family-friendly show. We're all looking to have a good time and we're not taking ourselves too seriously. Everybody that comes out, it doesn't matter if you're four years old or 104 years old, you're going to have a good time with Home Free.
Catch Home Free on Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at OutagamieCountyFair.com or locally at Seymour and Appleton Nicolet Bank locations and at Family Insurance Center in both Freedom and Greenville.
Find more on Home Free via social media and at their website, HomeFreeMusic.com.