Interview with Cory Procter
Conducted by Robert Williams
Free Reign is a hard rock supergroup comprised of two Dallas Cowboys, one Miami Dolphin and one virtuoso lead guitarist who is the only member of the group who is not an NFL grid iron grappler. The five song "Tragedy" EP was released in 2010 and was well received by both fans and industry alike. Free Reign continued to make headlines by winning the "Most Metal Athletes" award at the Revolver Golden Gods award ceremony, shortly followed by the release of their new single "One Step Away" a precursor to the soon to be released debut full length "Heavier Than Metal". Free Reign’s drummer Cory Procter recently took the time to fill us in on all of the latest excitement brewing in Dallas, Texas.
How are you doing today Cory?
If I was any better I’d be twins!
Free Reign is a hard rock supergroup of sorts, comprised of two Dallas Cowboys and yourself a Miami Dolphin. Tell me about how the band was initially formed, how did you originally meet Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis and discover that they were also rock enthusiasts?
The way the band formed is kind of interesting in that we each bring fairly different characteristics. Initially, Marc and I used to talk music until he told me about his former bands in Chicago and I was blown away because not many athletes play an instrument. I let him know that I played drums in high school and we started jamming a couple times and even played for the team and their families at the Cowboys’ facility. Just a 2 man wrecking crew, if you will. At the time Leonard owned a bass guitar but had no experience and expressed interest in the band. We were all about getting another guy to join since this was our glory days of playing in Marc’s old house with a jam room too small and too short for any of us let alone 3 big dudes! Leonard picked up the bass and began lessons shortly after. He progressed very quickly but we still missed a piece to make us sound like anything more than a garage band.
Now the one member of Free Reign who isn’t a grid iron star would be your lead guitarist Justin Chapman. Tell me how you guys hooked up with this virtuoso and what you feel he brings to the band…
Justin grew up with Leonard in Wortham, TX and played guitar through high school and on. Leonard invited him to a charity gig at House of Blues Dallas to check us out. Once Marc and I were introduced to Justin and his music we thought it would be a good fit to try him out and it’s obviously paid off! He brings a totally different aspect to the band. We all love to listen and perform but Justin brings the whole passion and intensity of the band to a new level. He came in, initially, as the real musician of the group and forced us to catch up with him! He brought a great dynamic that stepped our musical game up big time!
With yourself being based in Miami, and two of your bandmates residing in Dallas, did that pose much of a challenge in terms of scheduling and location when Free Reign is in the recording studio? How did you guys approach that?
I actually reside in Dallas so after the season I came straight back but because of my knee injury I’ve been all about getting healthy again! As far as recording and studio time, we actually finished recording the album last off season right before the season started. So far, being on a different team hasn’t proved to be a big hassle and hopefully it keeps up that way.
So as of right now, Free Reign has followed up last year’s five song "Tragedy" EP with your new single "One Step Away" and you have a new full length album "Heavier Than Metal" coming out this April on your own record label DC Rightside. The new album title seems like a pretty bold statement, do you feel like you guys can back that up? How would you describe the new music, is it really that heavy?
The album title describes our music as well as us! It’s a play on words to some degree but I think we back it up really well with our music, shows and general attitude. Every guy in the band brings a different piece that plays a significant role in our music. We have a very diverse group of guys that provides a very diverse group of songs! We have some heavy songs that have screams and melodies but we have some that mix it up a little more and provide more melody than grunge.
The new album is being released on Free Reign’s very own record label DC Rightside. Why do you feel it was important for you guys to release this album on your own accord? How is that working out, taking the DIY approach so far?
We definitely felt that the album had potential based on the feedback from our EP "Tragedy" and the overall progression of the band since then. We thought that instead of trying to shop it around we would release it through our own label and take the workload on ourselves. We love the music, and the people we’ve worked with so far have been excellent and have taught us a lot!
Do you guys have any plans to film a music video for the new single "One Step Away"?
Yes! That’s actually being worked on at the moment. The plan is to release it at the same time of our album release. We love the ideas that have been thrown around so far and it will be filmed here in TX.
Are there any touring plans in the works, to go out on the road in support of your new album "Heavier Than Metal" ? How many dates do you think you guys can handle right now?
We’ve been extremely limited with the number of shows we do because of football so we try to make them as significant as possible. I, myself, am actually rehabbing a knee injury that has taken some time to recover from so that has taken away form possible shows as well. As far as this off season goes we’re setting up a few shows that you might hear about!
Free Reign was voted "Most Metal Athletes" at the Revolver Golden Gods award show ceremony. Were you guys present at this event? How did it feel to receive that kind of industry recognition at such an early stage of the band’s career?
We were actually able to make it to the awards show and had an awesome time! Dave Mustaine actually presented us with the award which was pretty bad ass! It was really great to be recognized by the metal community especially so early in our music career.
There’s been some press releases stating that Free Reign’s music is enjoyed by some heavyweight heavy metal icons such as "The Metal God" Rob Halford, former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and current Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde and Vinnie Paul of Pantera/Hellyeah fame. Has there been any interaction between the members of Free Reign and these legends? Could you speculate on whether or not any of the aforementioned artists could possibly make a cameo on a future Free Reign album or music video? How does it feel to get noticed by some of your musical heroes?
Yes we’ve actually met all of these guys! Zakk Wylde was at the Golden Gods with us. Marc and I presented an award with Halford at another awards show. Vinnie has actually been to 2 of our shows! I think it would be pretty bad ass to get one of these guys on our next album and I bet that they would be up for it! The coolest part about being noticed by these guys is that these are guys we’ve looked up to since we were young! We’re huge fans of them and have great respect for their work!
How do your teammates in the Miami Dolphins feel about you rocking out with some Dallas Cowboys? Do you ever catch any heat over that from the other players?
The Dolphins guys liked our music a lot but gave me plenty of crap for playing with Dallas Cowboys. It was funny but a lot of them ended up wanting shirts and CDs!
Are the other Miami Dolphins players fans of you guys? Do you ever crank Free Reign on a boombox in the locker room to get you guys psyched to go out there and kick ass for a big game?
Yeah actually a bunch of them are fans! There were a number of times we cranked it up in the locker room! A lot of them just liked shouting FREE REIGN!!
Everybody knows that rockstars and NFL jocks get all the chicks. Was it a conscious effort on your part to undertake both of these professions in a concentrated effort to encompass and absorb as much booty as possible?
HA! Well seeing as Justin is the only single guy in the band I would have to respectfully decline that notion.
Who were the drummers that you would say inspired you to pick up a pair of drumsticks in the first place and perhaps influenced your playing style early on in your musical career?
To be honest, I was enamored with anyone who could play the drums!! I originally wanted to play the sax back in the day but I couldn’t make any noise at first so they put me in the back with the percussionists! Although now that I’m a little further into it there a few guys that I like a lot! Vinnie Paul from Pantera and Hell Yeah, Morgan Rose from Sevendust, Mike Wengren from Disturbed along with many others. I try to understand their beats and how they accent the song. I really like Wengren and his tribal beats that he uses! A big influence in my drumming is actually our producer Alex Gerst who’s also a drummer!
How did you originally become interested in hard rock and heavy metal music? Who were the bands that you feel made the biggest impact on you as a listener in your formative headbanger years?
Well sports and rock go together all too naturally! It’s always been my choice when getting pumped up for a game or getting a good lift in the weight room! Trying to recall in high school I would think Disturbed, Korn, and Metallica were the ones I listened to the most. Metallica has always been the classic that everyone loves!
What should people expect next from Free Reign?
After this album is released we’re going to try and do some shows and get back on the stage. We’ll continue to keep writing and enjoy what we love doing!
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk rock with me today Cory. Before we wrap this up do you have any last words for your fans reading at home?
Everyone should prepare for the day that cometh when the blades of my brethren are coupled with the thunderous beats that shall quake the land like a vicious beast that will never rest until they cry, "FREE REIGN!"