Rock quintet Far Far Away is the product of five Morristown music instructors, each with former ties to prominent though now-defunct performing acts, growing fed up with life on the sidelines. The band marks the return of these diverse players under a format that is free of constraints, and while the act’s sound is still taking shape, the roster knows the ropes and is already well on its way to the forefront of the Knoxville scene.
Composed solely of music teachers, the band is certainly not lacking in skill or reputation with their respective instruments. Collecting influences from metal to indie rock, Far Far Away’s instrumentation brings a sense of urgency that is fused with ’80s power ballad vocals, making for accessible listening despite the membership’s technical proficiency. Guitarist-turned-bassist Ben Eller explains that displays of technical prowess take a back seat to thoughtful songwriting.
“I don’t think there is ever any conscious effort to show off or hold back from a technical standpoint,” says Eller. “Everyone in the band is a very capable player, but we all understand that good songwriting is the only thing that matters. A song cannot stand on technical merit alone. And musically, there has never been a single discussion of what we can or cannot do, what we are or aren’t as a band. The only rule is, write good songs.”
“I just want to see us continue to be honest,” adds vocalist/guitarist Jamey West. “I think the sound we are developing is going to allow us to be flexible musically, while still fitting well into what Far Far Away generally does well as a unit.”
Initially, the act had scheduled a release for early 2013, but the follow-up to its debut EP has since been taken back to the drawing board. Acknowledging that the songs intended for the release can still be improved upon, Far Far Away scrapped the release date and makes no solid projections on when to expect it, but says the re-imagined offering will present more matured versions of the original tracks and additional material to round out a complete album.
“We postponed it,” tells West. “We’re re-recording quite a bit of the stuff we had planned to release on the second CD. I think holding off on it was best for us. We had a good plan and some good songs, but giving them time to breathe really opened them up. We also have some additional material that is going to make it a better overall listening experience. Recording has been a learning process as well. We’re making strides. We’ve learned a lot, and I think the sound is going to be far superior to the first recording. Phillip (Sandifer, guitarist) is doing a great job on that front.”
Building a name from scratch is an arduous task for any new band, especially without label representation or management. While Far Far Away has yet to play far, far away from home save an occasional Nashville or Johnson City gig, the band is eager to branch out upon its delayed album release. With Morristown lacking a proper music venue, the act considers Knoxville (specifically Preservation Pub) its home base, making each local show still a bit of a commute. Nevertheless, Far Far Away has found success in its pseudo-base of operations, as demonstrated by advancing through the opening round of Preservation Pub’s ongoing Band Eat Band contest.
“The interesting thing about this Band Eat Band competition is the lack of animosity,” drummer Justin Stamey points out of the contest. “It feels more about providing good entertainment and energy that only competing can elicit. The bands participating are all fantastic ”
Saturday night Far Far Away joins Skytown Riot, Just Say Maybe and Sleep Satellite on stage at Preservation Pub. The show starts at 10 p.m. and admission is $5. Far Far Away will return to Pres Pub for the next round of the Band Eat Band Competition on June 6, and then again on June 28 for a show with The Great Affairs.
Bony express: Ebony Eyes plays The Pilot Light with Megajoos Friday night. Music is slated for 10 p.m. with a $5 cover.
Flightless birds take off: The Well hosts Fat Penguin and Sol Driven Train Friday night at 10 p.m. The show costs $8 at the door.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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