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Farnsworth: Two-piece rocks it out

By Staff | Nov 29, 2012

Farnsworth is a no frills power-duo from the Charleston area comprised of Chris Vance on guitars/vocal duties, and Jason Reese, who lets loose on his rather exquisite scaled down vintage drum kit. They’re paying their dues in the West Virginia music scene, though they’ve both been in previous outfits. Now they’ve joined forces playing the kind of music that they both feel is the bare essence of good Rock N’ Roll for themselves.

They’ve recently released a solid debut EP produced by regarded music personality and a local favorite, Bud Caroll, entitled “I’ll Tell You When I’ve Had Enough,” for which they held a big release party at Budget Tapes and Records in Kanawha City. Chris and Jason from Farnsworth recently sat down with Graffiti and dished on information about their newly released EP, their future plans for touring, a little about their upcoming album, and their genuine love for music.

Graffiti: So Farnsworth is simply made up of Chris and Jason. Correct?

Chris: Yes, that’s it.

Graffiti: So, is there a search for another member, was there another member, or are you just going to do what you’re doing now and keep it a two-piece power duo now?

Chris: Yeah, we actually started out just jamming together. We’d known each other for a couple of years, but never really jammed together but once. We played together when we were about 15. Then we eventually got back together had hashed out some ideas jamming together Jason and I. Then we had, like, two different bass players and it just wasn’t really working out, so we thought we’d try the duo. Then we wanted to maybe take a different direction – a harder direction – and try the duo. We’re best friends. We love making music together. Just being able to hop in one car and playing around like that with touring. It’s just a cool primal connection, two people like that. So I think we’re just going to keep it the two-piece set up.

Graffiti: That’s definitely efficient for touring purposes; all of the equipment is already together and theoretically everything’s all together already, so it’s definitely convenient. If someone were to approach you (about playing) bass, would that be an option for Farnsworth to consider? Since you are both so tight, would that third personality run a risk of being an odd man out? It would probably have to be a pretty special personality.

Chris: Well, you know we started out jamming together, and then we got the bass player. At the time when we were a three piece, were sounding like traditional late 1960s early 1970s blues rock, and we wanted to try to push the envelope and do it a little bit of a different way, and definitely a little bit harder. Initially, we had wanted to find somebody to throw down some keys guitars, drums, and organ. That’s one thing we’d thought about, but just never found the right person, you know? I don’t think we can rule anything out, but Jason and I just love writing together, putting out new music. And as bands play together longer they evolve, so you can never say no.

Graffiti: There are obviously successful two-piece outfits like the obvious White Stripes and the Japandroids, but a two-piece rock band definitely has potential to go in a direction that may not be so appealing and might fall flat with nothing substantial to rely on. But Farnsworth seems to have a good ability to deliver and the chemistry is definitely there. The sound does still have an almost early 1970s type feel with the use of the rocking ballsy fuzz effects and structures. The sound of the music is really good and the songs are full of body. The word “vintage” is way overused, but is that what you were going for?

Chris: You know, Jason and I are really big into vinyl and you can tell from the EP cover.

Graffiti: I noticed all of the different album sleeves like Deep Purple, Lee Michaels, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, Jimi Hendrix, Free, etc. Is that a nod out to those who have influenced the style of Farnsworth?

Chris: Oh, for sure! John has a killer record collection and I try to build mine up more and more. You know, it’s not so much intentional. We never try to write a song and say it’s going to sound like it’s from the 60s or 70s – nothing like that. And I don’t have a TV, so I’m just listening to my records side A then side B.

Graffiti: Really? None at all? Then you just listen and play?

Chris: Yeah. Equipment-wise, we try to keep things really simple – pure and simple. I use a Les Paul from the late 60s, my two amps are basically direct copies of 1960s Marshalls.

Jason: I use a late 60s four piece Ludwig kit with two crashes and a hi-hat.

Graffiti: So, just a relatively basic set up?

Jason: Yup. Nothing fancy. I do have a tambourine attached, though.

Chris: We stay away from anything digital, except for a bass octave pedal.

Graffiti: So with the use of the bass octave pedal, is that how you accomplish a fuller sound with the lack of a bass player? Does it bolster the sound?

Chris:When we were a three-piece, we were going in a direction like Free and John Mayall and the Blues Breakers or Cream. We had a good time, but it just never felt 100% there. As a two-piece we wanted to do something completely. There are bands out there doing the two-piece line- up that are great The White Stripes and The Black Keys which are great bands and of course, we’re fans. But we just wanted to try to do a two-piece in a completely different way. I’ve just always found it fascinating that when you take away something that seems so key like the bass people don’t know what to expect. Plus it really makes it more creative for Jason and me to have to fill in those areas.

Graffiti: For people not yet familiar with Farnsworth, how would you convey a message to perspective listeners, concertgoers, and supporters?

Jason: We can be called Indie, we can be called Garage Rock, but we pound it out song after song and we always want to leave with the impression that we’re there to play. We’re not just filling a time slot, but we’re going to give the people a show that we would want to see ourselves. Thank you to everyone who has shown support, and we look forward to even more new faces. Thanks again!

Farnsworth is currently playing shows all over the region from live radio in Morgantown and various Charleston venues, to Columbus, through Kentucky, all the way down to Nashville. They’re currently working hard on developing and writing tracks for their anticipated spring release entitled “Shady Nasty” which is to possible be produced by Adam L. Meisterhans of The Demons Beats.

Check out the band at followfarnsworth.bandcamp.com/ , www.reverbnation.com/farnsworth , www.facebook.com/FollowFarnsworth, or contact them at followfarnsworth@gmail.com .

Contact Joey at letters@graffitiwv.com