Far Far Away is a little closer than most

Far Far Away has been helped a little by drummer Justin Stamey's connection to the band Vertigo. Far Far Away is, from left, Phillip Sandifer, Corey Mayes, Jamey West, Ben Eller and Justin Stamey.
Teri Lee/Special to the News Sentinel

Far Far Away has been helped a little by drummer Justin Stamey's connection to the band Vertigo. Far Far Away is, from left, Phillip Sandifer, Corey Mayes, Jamey West, Ben Eller and Justin Stamey. Teri Lee/Special to the News Sentinel

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Justin Stamey says the band Far Far Away hasn't started at square one.

"It's more like we started at square three," he says.

Stamey is a former member of the band Vertigo, which made a dent in East Tennessee and the national market a few years ago. That band's reputation, along with the knowledge Stamey gained from its success, has made starting Far Far Away much easier.

"If we'd just come out of nowhere it would be harder to get anyone to return my calls," says Stamey. "You know, Knoxville has been a breeze. Every venue I e-mailed got back with me that day. Nashville was easy, too."

Vertigo, which featured Justin on drums and his little sister Lindsey on vocals, began with the name Melatonin in 2001.

"Me and Lindsey grew up in a real musical family. When we were younger we'd go to open mike nights and watch my dad play. He was always a singer-songwriter and he'd bring musicians over. One day a guy left his drum set there and I got behind them and started banging on them. I don't necessarily think it was good, but I don't think it was complete racket either."

Stamey gained a national reputation with Vertigo, but when the band split the siblings went separate musical ways.

"After Vertigo split up it was a little rough. Lindsey and I were thinking about starting something ourselves then she got approached by the Few, which was a good fit."

The Few became Oh No, Fiasco!, which is still active.

Stamey decided to dial it back a little and teach drums at the Fret Store in Morristown.

During that time he worked a little with singer Jordan Beach, who had left the band Thoroughfare, oddly enough, the band that became The Few. The two also toyed with the idea of forming a cover band with other well-known East Tennessee rockers, but the group never really got off the ground.

Far Far Away started to come together in 2011.

"The band Far Far Away just got together because every member works at the music shop," says Stamey. "We all teach. One day we just said, 'We've got all this talent. We might as well get together and play some songs and see what happens.' It turned out we all wrote well together and it clicked."

The members are Stamey, Phillip Sandifer, Corey Mayes, Jamey West and Ben Eller. Eller is the most recent addition to the band and has in a surprising role. Eller is well known locally as an ace guitarist who has filled in in several different acts (including Vertigo), as well as performing with the group Human Fuse for years.

In Far Far Away, Eller is playing bass guitar.

Stamey says the members mesh well.

"We all come from eclectic backgrounds, however, we all like the same music, too. It's very rock 1980s, but it's very broad. I guess my biggest influence would be more indie, but everybody brings their own flair to it."

The group has written 30 songs or so and made home recordings of 16, nine of which are contained in a pay-what-you-want EP sold at the band's shows. Stamey says the group hopes to make more professional recordings for a proper album.

He's also a little nostalgic for the days when he was in a group that was several squares ahead of where Far Far Away is now.

"Now I'm realizing how much easier it was and that I took so much for granted when we had management," says Stamey. "I remember giving our manager hell ..."

But, Far Far Away's first show also brought back some of the best feelings.

"I was surprised at how much I'd missed this. At that first show it was hard for me to imagine that I'd given it up for a while."

Far Far Away

With: Tame the Hurricane, Sleep Satellite, Al Scorch, Adam McBride-Smith

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16

Where: Preservation Pub. 28 Market Square

Admission: $5

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