They were never hugely successful in the UK but Sacramento post-hardcore troubadours Far are seen as underground legends in certain metal circles. Hell is For Heroes and Biffy Clyro cite them as one of their influences and Funeral for a Friend have recorded a version of one of their songs as a b-side for forthcoming single ‘She Drove Me to Daytime Television’. One might say that Far were ahead of their time, their music pre-empting the sounds of the emo bands which flood MTV2 today.
Members of Far went their separate ways five years ago but next month Sony re-issues the influential albums Tin Can With Strings to You (1996) and Water and Solutions (1998). Ex-Far front man Jonah Matranga has since gone on to work under the guise of Onelinedrawing and New End Original. Jonah spoke to DiS from his California home…
Why did Far disband?
‘There wasn’t one particular reason. Different people wanted to do different things. A lot of bands go on and on even though it’s obvious that they don’t like the same stuff anymore. I think that if everyone isn’t really excited about something then it’s silly to carry on doing it just because people might buy it or something. I don’t hang out with them anymore, but we don’t hate each other. It was just time to go do other things. It was hard…it still is hard…I miss them! But at the same time I think it was a good idea for us to go do separate things’.
A lot of British rock bands say that Far influenced them. Are you aware of the impact you had in the UK?
‘It’s a little strange…in a really good way! It’s nice to realise that people listen to those records, and especially people that went on to make other music, because I play music because I love it so much and so if I ever pass that on to someone and help them want to have a band, then that’s great! It’s funny because a lot of people now think that we were really huge or something, and say ‘you should get back together and do a reunion tour, and it would be massive’. But I don’t really think it would be! People just seem to have this impression. And that’s because I think that the people who like us, really really like us and talk about us passionately, so that makes other people think ‘wow they must have been really big’!
Have you had the same kind of influence in the US?
‘I think it’s the same in that we didn’t sell so many records over here either, but there are still bands like Thursday and Coheed & Cambria, and even Blink 182 who talk about Far as a band that they really like’.
A lot of young British metal fans have favourite bands who are American. Why do you think that American bands have such appeal?
‘I think there’s always been a thing that different accents are interesting…I think in a way there’s something about a band from another place. To me, in the States so many bands and singers try to sound English but then over in England so many people love American bands. I’ve thought about it a lot. It’s strange…When I was young I really loved Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, you know the classic stuff. Then as I got older I started listening to jazz like Miles Davis and Charles Minghus, and songwriters like Tom Waits. Most of the people I’ve ever really loved as musicians are people that aren’t afraid to do embarrassing things. I just got the new Outkast record and it’s crazy! I think the new Thursday album’s really good, and I’m not just saying that because I’m on it. I like that new Beyoncé single too, ‘Crazy in Love’.’
There’s quite an emo/hardcore scene sweeping the UK at the moment, and I’d say that it’s possible to hear that Far were pre-cursors to it…
‘Yeah it’s interesting. I think there were plenty of people that came before us too, but there’s a certain something there. It’s cool. With any scene I just really hope that when the next scene comes along the same bands won’t be changing the way they look and the way they move on stage because it’s not cool anymore. I don’t mind people being influenced by other people, because it’s natural…but isn’t it weird when a band’s a punk band and then suddenly emo’s big and they dress up different…’
What are you doing musically now? Is onelinedrawing and New End Original still going?
‘Yeah I’ve actually done quite a bit. I’m working on the onelinedrawing record right now and that’s really exciting. And I’m trying to get some UK dates for the summer. I might be starting a new band called Gratitude and I’m recording that album later in the year, so everything’s still up in the air, but I really want to come back over there, but it’s just so far away. I’m going to try and get hold of Funeral for a Friend, because I thought it would be really interesting to play some shows together and would hope that they’d back me up on a couple of songs. I’ve got to get in touch with them, I think it would be really fun.
I think we might put a couple New End Original songs on the new onelinedrawing record. The New End record (Thriller) was basically a onelinedrawing album, and in fact New End Original is an anagram of onelinedrawing. It’s a long story, but New End was meant to turn into something but it never did. I’ve just decided to put it all under one roof, loud, soft, whatever…which has always sort of been the point of onelinedrawing. Even Far had really loud songs but really soft songs too’.
You collaborated with Chino Moreno on the song ‘Savory’. Any plans to work with him again?
‘We also did a cover of a Sade song called ‘No Ordinary Love’, and that was one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of, because I love her and it was fun to sing with him. I’d love to work with him but he’s crazy crazy busy. We get in touch whenever we can. I’d love for him to be on the new record’.
So there you have it. Possible collaborations with Chino Moreno, and our very own Funeral for a Friend. Wow. There’s two reasons to get excited. And if you still need persuading you’d better go out and buy those Far albums kiddies! You won’t regret it…