Josh Freese is one of the best and busiest session drummers in the music industry. Today, however, he is standing motionless, a pair of shearing scissors in one hand and a plastic comb in the other, poised over the head of one of his fans.
An overturned cardboard box serves as a provisional barber's chair. Freese looks uncertainly around the parking lot of the Long Beach, California, courthouse.
"OK," he says. He's wearing a T-shirt reading "Don't Mess With Kansas Either," black jeans and Vans Circle Jerks slip-ons; his blond hair is cut short. His teeth? Remarkably white. "I feel like such a freak doing this. And you know it's bad if I feel like that."
Freese and fan are surrounded. Freese's fiancée of 10 years, Nicole Amdurer, is there, as well as a photographer and Freese's personal videographer. A steady stream of people walk out of the courthouse, staring.
Someone points out a man in a dark suit who's peering down from three floors above.
"We're officially being watched," Freese says, looking up.
The photographer convinces Freese and his fan to move in front of a parked, empty police car. "How 'bout we do it with the police car behind you?"
"How 'bout I lay on the hood of the police car?" Freese counters.
"No, seriously," the photographer says. "It's a good backdrop."
"And then at the end," the videographer adds, "we'll throw a brick at it!"
"Yeah!" Freese says. "Flaming bottle of vodka!"
Still slightly tipsy from a previous pit stop at a nearby bar, where he alternated between sips of Fat Tire and Patrón with lime and Cointreau on the rocks, Freese begins cutting.
The fan sitting on that grubby cardboard box has paid $1,000 for this experience.
Freese is in the midst of a grand marketing ploy, a not-unprecedented but still quirky scheme to get people talking about his second solo album, Since 1972, but mostly to get them talking about Josh Freese.
Even if you've never heard of him, you've heard him. As a professional drummer and session musician, he's known for getting the job done fast and right. Freese is a permanent member of Devo, the Vandals and A Perfect Circle. He was Nine Inch Nails' drummer for three years and worked with Guns N' Roses from 1998 to 2001, helping write Chinese Democracy's title track. As a session musician, he has played on almost 300 records, working with everyone from the Dwarves, Slash, Sting and the Replacements to 3 Doors Down, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson, effortlessly moving from the hard-driving prog-metal rhythms of Perfect Circle to the odd-time idiosyncrasies of Devo.
In March, the 36-year-old announced a list of limited-edition, special add-on packages in conjunction with the release of his new album. Freese isn't the first to offer fans such bonus opportunities. Radiohead's promotion of In Rainbows was considered groundbreaking in the music industry; the band let fans choose either to download a digital copy of the album for whatever price they wished or to opt for the $80 disc box, which had extras such as an illustrated lyric booklet and a bonus audio CD. In March 2008, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor released a 2,500-copy run of an "Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition" for Ghosts I-IV that cost $300; other tiers of the promotion included a different limited-edition album for $75 and a simple $5 digital download. In May 2009, Reznor raised more than $645,000 for a fan in need of a heart transplant by offering $300 to $1,200 packages that gave buyers meet-and-greets, autographs, photos, and even dinner backstage.