A new lease on life for Devil’s Brigade frontman

Matt Freeman has to be one of punk’s busiest bassists. When he’s not occupied with his main outfit, Rancid, he’s playing for groups such as the Transplants, Social Distortion and Devil’s Brigade, his latest psychobilly spinoff with Tim Armstrong and X drummer D.J. Bonebrake. For their eponymous debut, he even taught himself slap ’n’ pluck upright bass. “It was a lot of work,” he says, “but believe it or not, I work really hard at electric bass too; I don’t take anything for granted.”

You had a serious health scare recently, right? Yeah, almost five years ago. Long story short, I quit smoking in 2003, and I was a militant smoker, to say the least. I smoked two to three packs a day. So about a year later, after I got married and had a child, I went to the doctor because I had this cough that wouldn’t go away. And the doctor said, ‘We’ll take an X-ray, but it’s probably just a cold or something.’ So four months passed, and in April of 2005 I go back in for something else, and it turns out they’d lost the X-ray. So I had all these scans, they found this mass in my lungs, and I was diagnosed — without them having a piece of it — as having lung cancer. And I actually believed the doctor because I knew how much I’d smoked.

What happened then? After all those years of watching “ER,” I got a second opinion. And the bottom line was, I had to have two surgeries. So I dodged a bullet — they took this thing out and it was benign. It was just a piece of bad scar tissue. But having that surgery was no joke; it really knocked me out for a while. But I got better. I’m all good now.
 
What are your first thoughts when a doctor diagnoses cancer? To be honest, I went through a period where I flipped out a little bit. But then I really just went into fight mode, like, “OK, to hell with it. I’m gonna beat this damned thing!” Dark thoughts? I didn’t even go there. Any time my brain started to go there, I tried to sound like George C. Scott in “Patton” — “Just fight, baby!”

Is that why you’ve started Devil’s Brigade? From realizing you don’t have forever? Yeah. And I get it — you really don’t have forever. You’ve got to do what you can do, and you’ve got to be happy for what you have. So I couldn’t be happier, really.

IF YOU GO

Devil’s Brigade

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $16

Contact: (415) 255-0333, www.slimstickets.com

artsentertainmentNEPOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

‘Extremely disturbing’: SF police chief condemns death of George Floyd

Bill Scott joins SFPOA, top cops nationwide in deeming incident a failure of policing

Haight Street group drops ties with prominent pro-Trump attorney

Amoeba, other merchants filed lawsuit seeking to block ‘Safe Sleeping’ site on Stanyan

CCSF board votes to close Fort Mason campus

College dropping lease on waterfront site to help close projected deficit

Planning Commission greenlights 1,100 unit Balboa Reservoir project

Development near CCSF expected to include 50 percent below-market rate units

Breed announces timeline for when SF’s businesses can reopen after COVID-19 shutdown

Restaurant advocacy group wants The City to allow indoor dining sooner

Most Read