It All Comes Full Circle
Jonah Matranga Reunites with Far, Returns to Velvet Jones
Even for Far fans, this may be the reunion no one saw coming. On May 25 the seminal Sacramento-based rockers (collectively singer/guitarist Jonah Matranga, guitarist Shaun Lopez, bassist John Gutenberg, and drummer Chris Robyn) release At Night We Live, the band’s first album in nearly 12 years. And the back-story? It’s one for the books. The quartet first formed in 1991, eventually scoring a record deal with the now-defunct Immortal Records. They released four albums, toured relentlessly, and developed a small but devoted following of fans that took solace in their mix of hardcore, post-punk, and pop-minded vocals. Then they decided to call it quits. Matranga went on to find solo success under the moniker Onelinedrawing. Lopez took to production. Gutenberg went the indie route with bands like Jackpot and Two Sheds. And Robyn became a session musician. Meanwhile the music, which climaxed with 1998’s Water & Solutions, continued to grow. Fans crawled out of the woodwork and began forming bands of their own. And years later, groups like Jimmy Eat World and Thursday began citing Far as a key influence in their style.
Flash forward 10 years to Lopez’s backyard, where the foursome first reconnected musically. There, messy rehearsals turned into plans for a small reunion tour, which Far imagined to be nothing more than a short trip down memory lane. Then came “Pony.” Made as a joke track to fill a fake MySpace page, the band’s 2008 cover of Ginuwine’s ‘90s R&B hit went from casual parody to number one radio hit — mostly by fluke — thus planting the seeds for a full-fledged Far reunion.
Now, less than two years after the success of “Pony,” the band is gearing up for a national tour and prepping a new full-length album.“We’re just taking it one step at a time,” Matranga confessed recently via phone. “I think at this point, with this step we’re at, we’re seeing sort of what happens when the record comes out. We’ve made the record, we’re proud of the record, it’s fun to play the new songs, and the rest sort of depends. If it gets on the radio — there’s a million variables that could effect what happens next.”
On At Night We Live, Far picks up right where they left off: penning hard-hitting, emotionally wrought, in-your-face songs that blur the line between hard rock and alt-pop. Led by Matranga’s soaring vocals, the record calls to mind Nine Inch Nails at some points, Band of Horses at others, and reminds us just how ahead of its time Far was when it first began.
“The funny thing is, as different as the writing process is and our situations are as a band and as individuals — all the differences I could list — the surprising and humbling thing is I just really think it still sounds like Far. And that’s really cool,” said Matranga. “There’s something about when we all get together to play music that has an identity, and I think that’s really hard to come by. There’s lots of really talented people in the world, and there’s lots of bands that really don’t have there own voice. I’m just really happy that we have our own voice.”
This Wednesday, May 19, the band plays Velvet Jones (423 State St.). For tickets and info, call 965-8676 or visit ticketweb.com.