JW Farrell – Far From It | Music for the end of the world
JW Farrell’s Far From It features nine songs with a total runtime of about thirty seven minutes. And if you enjoy Rock music, this is going to be an enjoyable while for you. JW Farrell now tours the North East of America, but is originally from Astoria in Queens. As a solo artist and group performer he spent quite some time in NYC at the heart of indie action.
The now solo artist was once the bassist for pop-rock outfit La La Lush. After the band’s indefinite hiatus in 2015, he ventured into his own music. His previous albums soared, and it seems he is here to revel in the glory of his genius once again. Let’s look at his newest LP, Far From it.
Far From It LP
The album opens with a cheerful, bright, eclectic number which is in serious contrast with its name. This one is called Music for the End of the World. Towards the bridge is my favourite part – an instrumental solo that gets you playing air guitar. It also includes chiming bells that suggest that it is time for judgement day. Up next is Demons, another energetic song with a killer melody. JW Farrell’s deep set vocals almost blend into the instrumentation, which in itself is a gem. It’s a playful song about accepting demons – of your own and your lovers’. I have a preferential bias for the next song Tequila Shooters simply for its name. A distorted electric guitar riff opens this one, and the drumbeat is solid too. The energy is a constant high for all of this song, giving way to the next track, Walk Away.
Walk Away initiates a different chapter for Far From It. The duet features Rachel Gawell’s vocals. And together, the two sing about walking away from love, and under what circumstances. Then comes Rendezvous, a bubbly rock number with neo-folk influences. It makes you wonder what a brilliant band this musician has put together. And he is fully aware of what they bring to his music. Easy starts out with an accordion that gives you an old worldly vibe. The quick paced beat of the song also complements this feeling. The chorus with the many background voices makes this one of the songs you and your friends will burst out singing when the time’s right. Further, the song also features one of the best guitar riffs in the entire album in my opinion.
Dark Lonely Bars is another volte then, and this one marks the end. It relies on a soft bass beat and acoustic arrangement for the verses. This track also has a stand out instrument, and it’s the mouth organ. Shickadance is the penultimate number on the album, and it seems we will be ending quite high. The rugged intro features a crazy electric guitar riff and lots of paddling on the drums before it mellows out musically. And this time, the singer’s vocals are compensating for the energy quite successfully.
Prison Glass is the last and longest song on the album. As any cover to cover listener will tell you, it is as important as the first song! The opening reminds me of Coldplay, and JW Farrell’s vocals, once again, offer something they haven’t before as he experiments with delivery style.
Far From It is an album that truly stands for the love of Rock. It has a host of pop, indie, folk influences, but each song has a highlight which is inevitably an intricately laid and power packed electric guitar solo. Additionally, instrumentals are plenty as different instruments shine at every turn, and in every song.
In conversation with JW Farrell
The origins of Far From It
Ques. You’ve worked with The Pool Boys’ Matt Potako to produce, and you were obviously the bassist for La La Lush. Tell us about the production of Far From It.
JW Farrell: I loved working with Matt; we go way back so it was nice and relaxing. He has a way of harnessing creativity out of people in a super positive way. He moved to the West Coast as we were planning how to record Far From It so I had to scramble to find a different engineer. Enter Frank Cervantes of Moonrocket Records. Frank recorded my buddy Rory Lynch and I loved the way it sounded. I reached out and the rest is history.
We set up a mobile studio in a shore-house in Ocean City, NJ. The band (Steve Scarola, Tom Cordell and Pat Foy) crashed on the first floor and we converted the second into a studio. I had big aspirations of locking ourselves away for the weekend and recreating The Band’s Music from the Big Pink. We got a little in over our heads and it became a whirlwind of a session trying to record all 9 songs in 72 hours. We must have only slept 8 hours between the 5 of us. But somehow we finished all of the basic tracking and some of the vocals before having to head back to Astoria that Sunday. The Tequila Shooters Music Video captures some of the energy of that weekend.
I met Ben Taylor through the scene in Astoria, Queens. He mixed and mastered the album, and taught us a lot about production. We threw a lot at him with each track and he was able to blend it all together into what you hear today. We invited Stephen Francis to play keys on a bunch of the tracks, Hilary Davis of Tygersounds to play violin on Rendezvous and Rachel Gawell of Baba Sonya to sing and play cello on Walk Away. They each really elevated the tracks to something more than we were able to previously pull off in a live setting. It was surreal hearing it back the first time.
The artist’s evolution
Ques. Now that your brand new EP is out, let’s go back to Francisville – how would you say your sound has evolved, and what are some things you’ve grown to learn in this time?
JW Farrell: For Francisville we recorded to tape so space was limited and we had to pick and choose our arrangements pretty carefully. Also, editing was kind of a nightmare. I decided I wanted a much bigger sound for Far From It. Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town was a huge influence, as well as The National’s Trouble Will Find Me. Everyone in our band is a super talented multi instrumentalist so I didn’t want to limit ourselves in any way. We embraced having a lot of layers for each track. I learned to always say yes to people’s ideas, and if it turns out it doesn’t work, you can always strip things away later.
Ques. Quick, give me 5 things you can’t go on tour without.
JW Farrell: Steve Scarola, Tom Cordell, Pat Foy, Stephen Federowicz, and Joe Rayome.
The road to music
Ques. How did you get started on music? Tell us about the long journey and the less glamorous bits.
JW Farrell: I started like most kids do, playing in a garage band with my friends in middle school. We were Red Hot Chili Peppers fanatics so we just wanted to play their songs all the time. I started writing songs before I really even knew how to form proper chords so god bless our parents for having to listen to us learn how to play music in the loudest way possible.
I was fortunate enough later on to connect with La La Lush. They were all insanely talented musicians, who taught me a lot about songwriting, how to perform live, and how to book shows. It was pretty rough starting back at square one when we broke up, but we had formed lifelong friendships that last to this day. We all still play together and help each other out with our various projects, Steve Scarola is a full time member of our band, Steve Fed played keys on most of the tracks on Far From It, Leea sang Walk Away with me at our album release and Cashel is still a great friend of mine who has been playing drums in a bunch of different projects. Husband and wife duo Steve and Leea now have a great band called Unruly Mane that is definitely worth checking out.
Least glamorous bit of this whole journey was probably during my Little Words Tour in 2017. We showed up to play a gig in Roanoke VA and no one was there. Literally not a single person. I played a few acoustic songs for the owner and a waitress, who gave us some beers and thanked us for driving the 6 plus hours from Philadelphia to get there. That was the first show of the tour so things were looking pretty bleak from there but we managed to have some good ones later on. Shout out to Sean Nelms for keeping me sane during that tour.
What comes next
Ques. What comes after Far From It? Do you know what you are going to work on next?
JW Farrell: We’ve actually written our next batch of songs over the course of the pandemic. Since we couldn’t play shows all there was to do was write. Sonically they seem to go in two very different directions so the plan is to release separate EP’s for each style. We recently signed to Benibu Records out of Astoria, Queens so we’re really excited to grow our relationship with Ben and his team. Besides that we just want to play shows.
Check out the album Far From It from artist JW Farrell here: