A decade later, Far was resurrected, and frontman Jonah Matranga (who cites influences ranging all the way from Michael Stipe to Sinead O’Connor) says it’s just as hard as ever to categorize exactly what the Northern Californians bring to the table.
“I don’t think we’ve ever fit into a scene,” says Matranga during a telephone interview from his San Francisco apartment. “I choose to think of that as . . . it’s kind of timeless, what we do. I think that’s part of the reason we were never that popular. We never embodied any sort of trend.”
The modest singer may claim the band hasn’t tasted much popularity, but all the same, the band’s recent cover of Ginuwine’s 1996 R&B hit “Pony” has seemingly revived the careers of both artists (“He thanked us for resurrecting his career,” laughs Matranga about a recent San Francisco meeting between the singer and the band).
Originally just a joke of a cover song for what was then known as Hot Little Pony (a fake band name that acted as a placeholder of sorts until the group officially decided to give Far another shot), the song somehow managed to find its way into the hands of radio DJs in late 2008, and ever since has received significant airtime.
From there, the group started swapping ideas from cities all across the state (Matranga from San Francisco, guitarist Shaun Lopez from Los Angeles, bassist John Gutenberger from Sacramento and drummer Chris Robyn from San Diego), a process that Matranga actually preferred to writing and recording all in one place.
“I think it was kind of cool for all of us,” says the perpetually soft-spoken vocalist. “We didn’t get caught up in all the little things we might have if we were in the rehearsal room. I got to sit with songs and send [my] ideas off, then other people would get to sit with them and not have to react in the moment. I think it made for a great writing atmosphere.”
This atmosphere would eventually be the basis for At Night We Live, out on Vagrant Records on May 25, the title of which refers to a revelation Matranga had following a dream about former Deftones bassist Chi Cheng who, after a November 2008 car crash, remains in a comatose state.
“The feeling of looking into his eyes [in the dream made me realize] how important it is when we look each other in the eye and we’re actually there. Because I’ve been looking into his eyes [in the hospital], but he isn’t there.”
The title track of the album isn’t the only song that came to Matranga in a dream; while on tour in England, the chorus for the song “Burns” also manifested itself in his head, in the form of a nameless, faceless pop-punk band playing it in a dark club setting.
All dreams aside, past this month, the frontman has absolutely no clue what’s in store for Far, or if they’ll even be around.
“The last show we have booked right now is May 29th in San Francisco, and there’s no promise that that won’t be the last show we ever play,” he says of the current Far tour, which includes a stop this Saturday at Pomona’s The Glass House. While that sort of uncertainty might seem downright frightening to other musicians, Matranga wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have no plan. We’re just taking it as it comes, and it feels very, very good.”
Far w/ Dead Country, Normandie at The Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802 ; www.theglasshouse.us, www.thebandfar.com. Sat, May 22. Doors 7:30PM. $15.