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The Bands’ Bands: Far

Far Oldbands’ band (bӕnds bӕnd)
n 1. a musical group/person who is widely regarded amongst other musical groups/persons as worthy of adoration, despite said group/person’s lack of popularity and success within the music industry and/or amongst music consumers
2. talented beyond comprehension
3. tragically unlucky

This week on The Bands’ Bands series I’ll be diving into the depths of ‘90s alternative hardcore and taking a look at Far; who helped cultivate alternative hardcore in the ‘90s with Deftones and Incubus, but never managed to gain the same commercial success, being forever heralded as a bands’ band.

Back in middle school, I found the entrancing song in my favorite Macbeth Footwear commercial to be called “Bury White” by the hardcore band Far.  I wasn’t used to the song’s abrasive and rhythmically open guitars, but I couldn’t get enough.  In a flash I went listening to the rest of that monumental album, Water & Solutions.  I even found some gems throughout the rest of Far’s discography like “Quick”, “-less”, and their cover of Jawbox’s  “Savory” often performed alongside Deftones’ Chino Moreno.

Forming in 1991 and playing together until 1999, Far bridged the gap between the emo movement of the ‘90s with the hardcore and metal movement.  This connection between emo and hardcore resulted in a kind of melodic sounding hardcore, creating an alternative rock hardcore style similar to their colleagues in Deftones and Incubus which is said to have inspired all types of musicians across the board; from post-hardcore bands like Finch all the way to more alternative bands like Jimmy Eat World.  You can even find your favorite post-hardcore bands of the last decade covering Far songs; Finch “Bury White” and Funeral For a Friend “The System”.

Vocalist Jonah Matranga’s creations after Far tended to sound similar to the slew of alternative bands Far had once influenced.  After leaving his Onelinedrawing moniker around 2004, Matranga began releasing his version of the mostly acoustic/singer-songwritier style simply as Jonah Matranga.  Matranga’s short-lived band Gratitude had its own bout with the bands’ band syndrome when Gratitude signed to Atlantic Records and toured with bands like Jimmy Eat World receiving positive responses, only to fizzle out before reaching acclaim after rumored difficulties with Atlantic and touring.  Ol’ Matranga just couldn’t seem to catch a break back in the day, but his humble lyricism mixed and simplistic approach is catching on again as heard on his 2011 split with Mikee J Reds, Countrysides.  Recently, the interwebs seem to be hinting at a release from Matranga “soooooon…..” as “Jonah’s Onelinedrawing.”  The way things seem to be shaping up for Matranga, I think it’s safe to say he’s never going to be “lukewarm again”.

Guitarist Shaun Lopez continued working as a producer, engineer, and mixer for plenty of critically acclaimed musicians like Saosin, VersaEmerge, and Senses Fail just to name a few.  Recently, Lopez can be found behind the boards of his new project with Deftones’ Chino Moreno as ††† (pronounced “crosses”).  ††† is currently catching hold amongst fans of Chelsea Wolfe, Nine Inch Nails, and other electronically metal acts.  ††† just recently released their self-titled album and even showed up blasting their blend of electronic-based, pop blended metal on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other week—a feat that even Far hadn’t snagged.

I was overjoyed to find that not only is bassist, John Gutenberger, playing in the indie band Two Sheds, but Gutenberger released a solo album February 18, 2014 called Whatever Forever.  The album was recorded with By Sunlight as the backing band at ExEx Audio in Seattle.  Gutenberger manages to turn the doleful into the beautiful throughout, just as easily as Mark Kozelek and Bedhead had done years ago in the slowcore and apartment rock genres with slow and somber progressions and lyrics.  Listen to “Will I Be There For You,” “Chuck’s The One,” and “I’ll Turn It All Around” from Whatever Forever .

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from delving into the projects put out by Far members, it’s that Far wasn’t just another Deftones or Incubus.  The members of Far were, and are, gifted and talented musicians whose craft has been admired by the likes of “far” too many commercially successful musicians to just be overlooked as that band that used to tour with early-day Deftones.

When he’s not writing, Drew Bankert is wondering why he still wears Macbeths even though they don’t actually make him feel any younger.  You can follow him on facebook here, or send him a message at bankert.infectiousmag@gmail.com

Purchase a CD or buy concert tickets from Far here.

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