Today’s Song: Why Dogs Why’s “Freak” Shows We’re Not the Only Ones Feeling Afraid

Freak Why Dogs Why Promo
Self-made musician Alex Johnson and his indie rock band Why Dogs Why prove we’re not the only ones feeling afraid in their latest single, “Freak.”
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Listen: “Freak” – Why Dogs Why




Holed up in his small guest-house in Northridge, just a few miles above Los Angeles, California sat Alex Johnson. Today, he’s a writer, producer, and music maker with a resume spanning multiple music projects, but in early 2018, he was the product of his living room, teaching himself to record songs. He worked on writing and recording his own music and lyrics, committed to releasing a song every two weeks for four months straight.

The result? An epic and impressive 8-song compilation album titled, “Append,” the lo-fi indie project of LA-based rock band Why Dogs Why. Led by Johnson, the band and the record both explore the diversity that comes out fusing power-pop, indie rock, and vintage lofi genres together. Bringing into play layered vocals, filtered acoustic guitars, and drum machines, Why Dogs Why creates a sound that actually transcends its time.

Freak - Why Dogs Why

Freak – Why Dogs Why

The band’s latest release, “Freak” is an indie-rock track that sounds straight out of the 1960s – the backbone of the song’s origin story being born in 2018 suddenly becomes something fascinating. In a world of electronica and pop radio and technology, Johnson has created a sound that still sounds as raw, honest, vintage, and real as anything you might have heard from the early 1960s. As Johnson has said himself, it echoes “1994 Weezer,” but Why Dogs Why is taking its own place, as this self-taught, self-produced, captivating sound deserves a spot in 2019.

In the same way the early years of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Monkees sounded like the way you finally discover for the first time a musician conveying the same feelings you’ve been feeling through their song, Why Dogs Why is reaching out with “Freak,” and telling a story that’s not only unique in sound but also sentimental in meaning.

Every day I find another
piece of me that hurts.

I’m afraid of falling apart.
I’m afraid of falling apart.
Hypochondria or a disease, or worse?
I’m afraid of falling apart.

Revealing the story behind the song, Johnson says, “This song was written and recorded as I was experiencing a myriad of health problems, some of which are still undiagnosed. I’d convinced myself I had some kind of terminal illness, and writing this song was my way of coping with that.” The simple line of, “I’m afraid of falling apart,” serves a remarkable purpose as it expresses the one thought that everyone has when they discover they’ve been diagnosed with a sickness – that they’re afraid, and what’s amazing about “Freak” is that it echoes the idea that there is power in vulnerability. The admittance of fear and feeling afraid of falling apart, of losing oneself, of becoming someone you never were, translates to something almost anyone can identify with.

I’d recorded the song on three separate occasions but kept finding myself coming back to the original demo I had recorded at home. This release is that demo.

I can check WebMD,
But that’s not good enough for me.
I can run on empty,
Until I figure out what it is
that’s making me a freak.
Every night I hear another chunk
of paint fall from the wall.

I’m afraid it’s falling apart.
Worn from time, worn from misuse, or dirt?
I’m afraid of falling apart.
I’m afraid I’m falling apart.

To highlight Johnson’s skill for writing, the song is also a genius play on the idea of sickness. Though taken from his own life experiences with real-life health problems, what “Freak” does is it takes the idea of “being sick” and it becomes an idea. Whether it’s sick from heartbreak, sick from life, sick from someone else is up to the listener, but Johnson’s clever wordplay with lines like, “I could check Web MD, but that’s not enough for me,” proves that there might be something more influential happening in the moment.

Why Dogs Why

Why Dogs Why by Sam Mitchell

I can run on empty,
Until I figure out what it is
that’s making me a freak.

I can run on empty,
Until I figure out what it is
that’s making me a freak.

Unusual. Irregular. Unpredictable. Bizarre. Monster… All words that mean the same thing as “freak” and yet, when Why Dogs Why sings the word, it doesn’t feel like something bizarre. The song doesn’t scream “monstrous.” It doesn’t feel mistaken or out of place. It feels like exactly the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re lost or when you’re in search of answers and you can’t find them, but simultaneously, the track makes you feel like you’re not the only one searching for those answers.

From guitar solos to clapping rhythms, there is no part of “Freak” that you think might get lost in the world of EDM or techno-pop. It stands out too well on its own. With a sound that pulls listeners in, the lyrics may sound simple, but they evoke some of the most vulnerable, honest, and raw emotions. The line, “Until I figure out what it is that’s making me a freak,” signifies the act of waiting. The fact that it’s repeated in the song so many times throughout the choruses echoes the idea that we’re all waiting on answers to figure ourselves out. Why Dogs Why shows us we’re not alone in that discovery, and validating that, over layered acoustic guitars and a harmonious melody, 60s pop is alive and well.


The year 2019 has been a whirlwind for Alex Johnson. The songs “Bubble,” recorded and produced by Derek Ted, and “Prove My Love,” a Violent Femmes cover, along with “Freak” have been just a few of the musician’s releases. With 2020 just around the corner, there is nothing but excitement in store for Johnson and Why Dogs Why.

Plans to record and release an EP in the spring are underway, and if “Freak” is any indication, the indie music industry will have seriously exceptional pieces of art waiting to be seen.

Listen: “Freak” – Why Dogs Why

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Freak - Why Dogs Why

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Erica Garcia is a writer from Los Angeles, California who is very much in love with music, literature, and coffee. Her belief in pursuing journalism seeps into her passion for using words to spread inspiration through music and storytelling for people who might have missed it the first time around.