Far Interview

This one was a bit lucky really. I contacted Jonah, the singer from Far, regarding an interview, as I’d done a few previously with him for YAZ. He told me to turn up at Rock City and they’d see if they could sort something out. So when I did, there seems to be someone from the label doing things officially. Ugh, never done things, “officially” before. Don’t actually think I have since either, but that’s not relevant here. So they check the list, and voila, someone has cancelled, so there’s a free interview spot. So, along with someone else from somewhere else, I get led to the tour bus for my 20 minutes alone. Well, apart from the fact that Jonah will be doing the interview with the other bloke at the same time. So I settle down to chat with John (bass), and the initial elements are to make sure that everyone one the bus is able to hear their own interview over the other interview. So hopefully we won’t get any quotes from Jonah creeping through that seem to have no relevance to what I’m talking to John about. Because if they do, well it means it’s the answer to one of his interview questions. Ah, you’ll figure it out as we go along. I’m hoping to anyway. So move that playstation out the way, and grab a seat.

As we ease into this interview, a few things become apparent. One is that I’d tailored the questions towards Jonah, and of course, I’m interviewing John. I made the same mistake with Tura Satana, I must remember to come up with general questions. So, as usual, it means reverting to more off the cuff. The other thing, is John comes across as quite reserved. Shy maybe. As if he knows it’s usually Jonah or Shaun that takes the interviews. Or maybe he just sensed something about me. Whichever way, it takes a little time for things to warm up, but bear with us on this one ok ....

Ok, well, as I’ve said, some of the questions were more tailored towards Jonah, but one of them was that the last time I did an interview with him, he appeared very excited about the release of Water & Solutions, so the obvious question I guess is how you feel now that it actually has been released.

In a way, for me, it feels like it’s been out ever since we finished recording the album y’know. Just because I’ve heard it so much, it was like “that’s how its come out” sort of thing he laughs. It was just like, “whatever”. But I guess now I’m glad that it is finally out, because I know a lot of people have been waiting for it.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of like the UK reviews of it, there seems to have been quite a bit of good press about it. And I was wondering if there was one review, or one “thing” that kind of justifies the making of the album?

Yeah, I think there was a review in, where was it he asks himself, Holland, I think, and it was something like 100 / 100. And I was really kind of taken aback by that. When I see reactions to it like that, and stuff like that, it’s kinda like .... he trails off humbly. Because to me it was like I was not always pleased with the whole project in general, I think towards the beginning, and now coming out of it, I’m not really prepared for that if like the whole world loves it.

You said then that you weren’t fully taken by the project in the beginning.

Well I guess what was weird about this recording at the time was we kinda just got in a room and got some ideas. We were kinda pressed for time, and then eventually it doesn’t come out for a year, so we would’ve had time anyway he laughs. So there’s kinda lot of ideas that were not anything and a few that for me didn’t have time to work themselves out, cause that’s the way we’ve always worked. We write the songs and then we play them a lot and finally figure out what we don’t like and what we do like. And so we kinda just had these songs and went in a recorded it and in general that whole process I didn’t really like that much. But once we got into the studio and started working with Sardy our producer, we were really just like walked in there not knowing what really we were doing, just doing the song. And I was like, this sucks, cos we don’t have any songs. We were just grabbing ideas. As it turns out a lot of them were really good. So a while it was very hard to think that what we were doing was going to be really cool.

One of the reviews, Kerrang! described Far as the best band in Sacramento, and that the Deftones were the second best. I also did interviews with Incubus and Human Waste Project and they were all talking about Far. Does that peer support mean anything to you.

It’s cool he ponders, I guess if we are the best band in Sacramento, the people of Sacramento don’t really think that he grins. But no, it’s really nice when people say that. It can be a little frustrating sometimes, you know, if we’re the band we think we are and some people seem to like us, there’s all this going on, and then you think “yeah, but who the fuck is actually listening to us?” It’s cool to hear that though.

Do you think that with this album you’re beginning to turn the corner.

It definitely seems that way. It seems like there’s a lot more positive mood this time around, like the reviews and stuff.

The next question I was going to ask was maybe aimed more at Jonah. Last time you were over here on the Deftones tour, Jonah was doing his daily tour diary, and it came across as like a person living a dream. Did it feel the same for you?

Yeah in a way. There was an element that you felt like you were in another world. I’ve always wanted to come to Europe and to get to play with the band is a bonus too. I never actually read any of his journals, but it was really exciting for me. It’s like, this time that I’m here we’ve been to a lot of the same places, and this time I’m not quite as excited about it. It’s kinda like, “here I am again”. But I’m actually pretty psyched that we’re able to play for a lot longer this time. We get a day off tomorrow.

You get a day off this time? Yeah, we actually get a few days off, but the whole, after being here once it’s not quite the same, but it’s still cool.

Do you get chance to actually enjoy the time, or do you just end up in situations like this?

Well like today, I got up today, I usually wake up early about 9 or something, and just kinda sit back here, watch the countryside and stuff. There’s lots of sheep.

We dip into a little warning to watch it, what with me being Welsh. Have to explain these things to Americans y’know. And besides, you don’t want to go down that road do you? Oh, you do? Well, you must have a bigger fixation with sheep then than us Welsh are accused of having.

But it was just like nice to take in the countryside. And like today, I got up and took a walk into town, got some breakfast. Just walking around all day and it was really cool. A lot of the stuff’s the same, but it’s just different. Everything’s more compact, and it’s different enough that the most simple things interest me. Like the market that was down there. They have that in my town, but it was like cool cos’ it’s in England.

Do you find that the crowd reaction is any different here to in the States?

Yeah, I mean we actually in the States haven’t been on an tours that have been packed, y’know, big shows. And here so far we’ve been on two. And the kids seem to get real crazy. And there seems to be kids that drive hours just to see bands and so there’s like a passion for the music. At home I’ll open up the newspaper and there’ll be like 12 clubs just having bands play. I never go out to see bands really, people are kinda spoiled.

Do you think this might be a by product of the MTV generation, or is it that there’s just so many bands out there.

For the most part right now, MTV and radio in America is killing bands like us and basically good bands. There’s a lot of good bands on radio, but a lot more bad bands and people grow up with MTV and the radio in the car, what they hear is what they like. A lot of it sucks, so I guess that’s part of the reason why they are not interested in the scene and going out just to see music.

Is there any bands out there in the States at the moment that are impressing you?

Uh, there’s a long pause. I get the impression the answer is no then?

Um, well I haven’t really gone out and seen a lot of bands, so ... but we played with this band called Creepin Lagoon (I think) and they blew me away. But that’s the last band in a long time that did that.

Do you think there’s a lot of bands at the moment that are falling into the trap of trying to sound like Korn and that whole sound?

Yeah. Is that evident in the States? It’s like everywhere. It’s kinda like, I don’t know how it was over here, but when Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains came out, those copy bands were everywhere too. And they’re still around, Days of the New. They’re pretty popular in American. It’s the same thing, something gets popular and you get the copycats. But they’ll soon disappear.

Ok, another of those “it was aimed at Jonah” questions. Again with his tour journals, when he was sending them out, he was always ending with a quote from the Jack Kerouac book “On The Road”. And I was wondering if the book was inspirational or there was just the relating to life “on the road”. So, do you have any thoughts?

Well, I’ve never actually read the entire book, I read a few chapters and was really into it. It is just totally “on the road”

Do you read anything that does inspire you?

Well, I only read things that I’m interested in, and I think I got a bad introduction to reading at school. But there are a few books that I like, and that book was into, but he was reading it, so I had to give it back. But Pete Towsend’s biography. Nothing that educational.

So does that Pete Townsend rock excess still continue today do you think? Would you like to be a part of that.

I think everyone, whether they say the don’t or not, wants to. I know I would. Those guys, they got banned from chains of hotels, that’s rock’n’roll y’know. I think it’s partly out of sheer boredom y’know, I want to throw that TV out the window just to see what would happen.

Do you think that the longevity that they have had as a band, and say The Rolling Stones, will be repeated, or do you think the industry has changed.

Well, I think it can and has, but, there’s lots of different rock styles around now. Like I was listening to the new Fugazi, and to me, this is a band that is going to be like the Rolling Stones, but on a different level. They’re doing everything, they didn’t need MCA or whoever.

I was wondering about the longevity of record label support, and there Fugazi are on Dischord which of course was set up by Ian MacKye anyway.

That’s what I mean. There’s bands like Pearl Jam who are still putting out albums on major labels but are still doing it a lot on their own terms. And they’re a band I respect a hell of a lot as a result of that. They’re still doing pretty good music. But it’s hard with all these bands that are out there that want to do that. I think bands like that are the ones that are really going to go the distance. They’ll do tons of records that are all going to be like fucking great, they (Fugazi) are the only band that has not made a bad song. To me. They’re not dancing to anybody.

Do you think Far have it to achieve a similar sort of thing, in terms of putting out consistent records.

I’d like to, but it kinda seems like we’re always going to be under pressure to come something. Like if people expect us to do something melodic, we just want to do something that we believe in, like we always do. There’s the pressure, like if you made an album that’s brilliant or whatever, like 10 by Pearl Jam. And the second one, nobody got it, but they believe in it.

Well I personally preferred it to 10.

Yeah? Well looking back on it now, those two are my least favourite ones. Their second one had some not bad songs on it, and since then they’ve always had some weird songs on the albums like “"what the hell is this?"”. But it’s really hard to build up to where you were when you’re new and you’re fresh. You can’t be fresh all the time.

A bit like you said about returning to Europe really.

Exactly. And you have to get people to be really into the thing and understand what you’re about to be able to stand there and appreciate the music and the songs.

I think that at the end of May you’re down to play the Dynamo festival. Apparently there can be up to say 100,000 people there. Have you any thoughts on playing something which can have crowds of that magnitude?

I have no idea what to expect. We’re playing that festival and then some others.

How does the idea of playing in front of 60,000 people appeal.

Actually for that many people it just doesn’t seem real. Especially when a lot of those people just don’t have any idea who you are. So I think I’ll just try and rock out with the band rather than try and make some kind of connection with someone who can’t even see me.

Do you like that crowd then where you can see them and almost interact or do you like your own space. Like I saw the Mighty Mighty Bosstones recently, and there were so many stage invasions and divers they had to stop the gig a few times.

I don’t really enjoy barriers, but I think they need to be there. It’s kinda funny, I enjoy having people be right there in my face but I don’t enjoy it when people are just jumping up like it’s a diving board and they’re interfering with my monitors and stuff. That’s the only time I really get angry. It’s like “ok, stop now, that’s enough”. But I mean places like this are great. It’s big, a lot of people can fit in, but it’s still not arena, it’s still a club. But anything over 1000 people it’s a little weird for me. But I guess I’m probably going to have to get used to it. But as of right now, I like the smaller crowd.

Which is a cue for me to start off ranting about arenas and the hell holes that they are for watching a gig. The nicely allocated little slot that is yours and yours alone. Ah, you know how that particular record of mine goes by now.

To me now, when I go to see gigs, I’m not trying to get MY spot like I used to. I like to sit back and be able to watch from not too far of a distance, but to be able to watch what’s going on. I remember going to see Rush when I was like 10, and I was in the rafters, and that just sucked. But like they had the lazers and stuff, so it was kinda cool. But when it becomes like watching an opera or something it’s kinda a pointless exercise.

My first gig was Donington where there was 108,000, and it’s hard to top that in some ways. But now, I like to see the bands in small places. I may not be down in the pit moshing and whatever, but I still like to be close enough to see everything. The last time you were here, I was right at the front, and there was a guy next to me who seemed to know the stuff, and Jonah spotted him and held out the mike for him to sing on Love American Style. And I was terrified that it would be passed to me, and I can’t sing and like (I imitate a choke voice, squealing, you know, you’re worst nightmare where you make a total prat of yourself in public) would come out. He laughs.

I can’t totally remember the last time I was right at the front for a show. I think the last time I went up front was with Chris (Far drummer) when we went to see Pearl Jam when Vs came out. And they opened up with the song Oceans from the first album, a really slow song, and we were working our way up to the front, and we were like about 50feet from the stage, which is pretty close in this big auditorium. And I thought I was going to die, it was sooo bad. I lost my hat, I was going under the crowd coming up. I really love that band and I wanted to get close to them, but I couldn’t. And that bummed me out a lot, and I know it did Chris as well.

The label rep person type thing stuck their head onto the bus while that answer was coming from John’s mouth, but I decided to spare you the interruption. Nice of me huh? Anyway, what that tends to me in “shape up and ship out” people. In other words, it’s the cue for that “oh fuck, how do I end an interview” question. So how about plans for the rest of the year?

I heard possibilities of a tour with Will Haven.

Us with them? That would be cool but I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that, so I don’t really have any answer to that.

And with the ultra fast turnaround under which this zine operates, you’ll of course know that they didn’t return here in October with Will Haven. So we can put that one down as a bit of a rumour methinks. Also, since this interview occurred, rumours are around that John has actually left the band, though at the time I was actually getting around to finishing typing the thing, Far were taking a break. Who knows? Time will tell. But if it's true, I’d just like to say that this interview didn’t drive him to it. Honest. It may not have been the greatest one ever conducted, hey, none of them are, but hopefully it wasn’t bad enough to convince him to go.

But lessons to learn. Two quiet people on tape make for hell when playing back and typing. Think of back up questions just in case you’re intended victim, er, interviewee isn’t the actual one. And don’t take 6 months or more to type an interview. Also, cheers to the various web sites I’ve, borrowed, images from. Who knows, I may even start trying to take my own pictures soon, instead of just taking others.