This interview was done Jonah, the singer and guitar player with Far on 30/8/97
An earlier interview I did with the band, just to see how really bad I am at this shit, is here.
Jonah - Vocals and Guitar
Shaun - Guitar
John - Bass
Chris - Drums
Q: Tell us something about the history of the band.
A: We've been around for more than six years now. It's been a funny mutation, but we've always reached. I'm really happy with where we are now.
Q: The new album's been recorded. I believe it's to be called 'Water&Solutions'. Can you tell us something about it.
A: It's beautiful. I'm totally in love with it. It's the first thing Far has ever done that I don't have to justify or explain. It's the most 'Far' (said in Spinal Tap voice).
Q: Tin Cans ... was, to me, a musical rollercoaster in places, uptempo one minute, quiet and introspective like the next. You could listen to it all the way through with no problem, but sometimes you get selective in which songs were played, depending upon your mood. Would you say that the new album is muscially a follow on to 'Tin Cans ...' and this style or have you explored more new territories with it.
A: Well, it's still Far, but you make a good point. With 'Tin Cans' I found myself shuffling songs around depending on who I was playing it for. With 'Water & Solutions', I can play it right from the beginning and go straight through, no matter who's listening. I like that.
Q:When is the album due out.
A: Early next year. There will be an EP out soon, with two new songs and two rarities. One is a Jawbox cover that we recorded with the Deftones, it came out great. The EP will be available through the mail and at shows.
Q: And plans for after that. Touring? Visiting the UK and Europe this time round?
A: We really hope so. We've gotten great response from there, so we'd love to come and meet people.
Q: How would you describe your music. The reason I ask is that the place where I got Tin Cans ... says the following about Far. '... their aggro post Hardcore sound, like Quicksand or Fugazi'. On the other hand, you're signed with Immortal, and probably linked to Korn and the Deftones in the eyes of many people who have heard you. Would you see yourself as more in their mould. Do you think either of the descriptions apply or do you see yourselves as something completetly different.
A: Definitely more Fugazi/Quicksand that Korn/Deftones. A lot of people relate us to that sound, but that's just label/location association. Much respect to those bands, we always love playing with them, and the Deftones are really close friends, but our thing is different.
Q:How would you say it is different then. muscially? emotionally?
A: Both. Musically, it's more song-oriented than riff-oriented. Again, this is not to say those band can't write songs, it's just different. Emotionally, there is more light, more joy, in with the darkness. Does that make sense?
Yeah, at least, i can make my own interpretation of it.
Q: Would you say that your music has any sort of message. Should music have a message, or should it just be a form of entertainment.
A: Music has a message, whether you like it or not. Everything has a message. People who avoid and deny are making as much of a statement (for the worse) as anyone. At the same time, of course it's entertainment. It's FUN! The two are not mutually exclusive. If there's a general message to what we do, it's 'be true to yourself'.
Q: Are Far a predominantly live band, or a studio band, ie, which do you prefer, or is live a setting to experiment as well as in the studio?
A: We love playing live, but this time around we really got more comfortable in the studio, just letting the songs have their own life. Sardy, the producer, helped a lot with that.
Q: I often read bands saying a similar thing, and often wonder what that means in individual cases. So how did he help? Did he suggest things for the songs, or just let you go with ideas or push you to reach new heights if you like, that had not been reached before.
A: First off, he helped us take the songs down to their basic elements, and figure out what were the valuable parts and the parts where we were just wanking. During the recording process, he just had a great knack for getting us to give great performances that were emotional but technically there too. Finally, his recording and mixing techniques were just fucking amazing. Nothing super-fancy or tricky, just creative and intense. He really helped us let go of our egos and just make a good record.
Q: which i would think can be a double edged sword. everyone needs someone to be able to take them to the side, and give advice on when something is out of place. but that can affect the ego, especially if you consider it integral to what you're doing. so did it lead to any 'disagreements', or did you pretty much see the logic and accept the advice.
A: Getting ego out of the way was great for us. The best thing about the process was that, if we really felt strongly about an idea, we'd have to argue for it and articulate what we liked about it, and that made us that much better at executing the idea. I've read that Brian Eno always argues every point of every song, even if he likes it, just to get the artist to really believe in everything they're putting in. That makes a lot of sense to me.
Q: This may seem like a bit of a stupid question, but how would you perceive the band as being successful. Bands want success right? But then many seem to say something along the lines of 'it really doesn't matter to us how many albums we sell.' If that's the case, then what is success to the band. How would you know if you've achieved it.
A: I will always have music in my life. My favorite part of music really is just being alone in my room singing. It's what I do. In that sense, I'm all set, reagrdless of commercial success. I like to play shows and put music out to communicate with people. Art is incredibly powerful, and I love to create and share it. As far as financial success, if I can do what I love and support myself doing that, well, that's everyone's dream, right? I don't get the idea of doing something for money and doing what you love is your spare time.
Q: We seem to be told that music is more diverse and open minded now than ever before. Would you agree?
A: In commercial rock specifically? No. Alternative rock is at a low point right now. It's okay, though, that's just a cycle. More innovators will rise. Hopefully we can tag along : )Q: Well i wasn't thinking commercial rock specifically, just 'rock' music (whatever that is) in general. I think I mean that supposed barriers between certain genres have allegedly been broken down, and the collaboration of artists from different genres, ie techno with rock, is making things more diverse. or so we are told.
A: I dunno, seems like hype to me. Call me cynical : ) There are always great artists out there, they just aren't getting paid : )
A: And at the end of the day, I never knew what 'alternative rock' was. Janes Addiction and Nirvana? That attack against 'metal'. I don't see it myself. Why was it alternative? Why not just listen to it all like I tried to do. Or maybe I just didn't get the point of it all if the point was to just create another barrier, another division between genres which really had the same base elements to them.
A: Metal was getting pretty ridiculous, itwas ready for a kick in the ass. It had taken all the great energy and vision of bands like Zeppelin, Sabbath, etc. and cheapened it, commodified it. Now the same thing is happening again, it's just that it's U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. getting ripped off and cheapened. Same shit, different day. It doesn't make me sad, because there's so much music to listen to, it's just funny to watch the wheel turn.
Q: When I did an interview with you last, you mentioned that the loud songs are fun to play live, the softer ones more fun to listen to. Slightly, well a lot, paraphrased. But given that, do you ever write a song, or go about writing a song which you consciously think is going to suit a live performance, or alternatively is going to only ever be on the album and not performed live.
A: We never let the 'live' factor affect our writing, whatever comes out somes out. There's one song on the new album that probably won't get played live unless we really have the right setting. One thing I love about the new stuff is that it's fun to play live AND fun to listen to at home. I think we're at a good place.
Q: I heard that at your recent gig at the Troubadour, Chino from the Deftones was there, as was a certain Brian Warner. Does this mean then that Far are going to be causing moral outrage in middle America, and indeed the rest of the world, in the coming months.
A: We're way more threatening than Manson, because they're storming the gates, and we're a Trojan Horse. We'll get inside the city and then destroy it. Or rather, create it. : ) Brian Warner was really nice, though, and I think he's really intelligent.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career so far.
A: There's a picture that's going to be on the back of our EP. I'm in the left corner, singing, and radiating out from me are several people. Everyone is singing, with a completely different expression on their face. One is angry, one is smiling, one is in the air. It's a beautiful image of how incredible a show can be. There are moments like that, they outshine any 'big crowd' story I can think of.
Q: What would be your dream gig lineup. Would you be the headliners?
A: Sure, why not. Radiohead could open for us : ) And PJ Harvey could be off in a little candle-lit room, and DJ Shadow would be spinning in between bands. Smog would be over on the acoustic stage. Someday.
Q: And finally, it has to be asked, Spice girls. Good or bad.
A: Cereal. There is music, and then there's cereal. They're Lucky Charms or something.