Shared love of vinyl bonds rock duo Farnsworth

photo: Rick Bennett

Farnsworth celebrates the release of its debut EP with an in-store appearance at Budget Tapes and Records Friday evening, followed by a show at The Empty Glass that night.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a CD cover is a different story. The cover of “I’ll Tell You When I’ve Had Enough,” the debut EP from local rock duo Farnsworth, encapsulates everything Chris Vance and Jason Reese are about: classic rock records and rocking out.

On the cover, Vance and Reese are pictured at their rehearsal spot, Reese at the drum kit and Vance, the singer-guitarist, on the floor amidst a sea of bottles and records from their favorite rock bands: Free, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Grand Funk Railroad, among others.

Talking over the phone from Reese’s apartment, the pair said the cover is wholly indicative of what they’re all about and that their in-store EP release performance at Budget Tapes and Records Friday brings them back to what helped bring them together: the records.

“All of the albums on the cover are big time, huge influences on us,” Reese said.

Both musicians collect vinyl, and Vance said they bonded at the record store before they became a band.

Untitled“What’s funny about having the release show at Budget is that’s where we first started getting together,” he said. “We’d meet at Budget once every couple of weeks, and go through the record bin and talk about bands that we like like Free, Lee Michaels, Deep Purple and Mountain.

“That was that was a big thing for Jason and I getting together; we would just talk albums. And Jason has the best record collection I have ever seen,” Vance said with emphasis and awe.

Fast forward to the present. After starting out with a bassist last year, Farnsworth is now stripped down and back to raw rock and roll roots, Vance said.

“It’s a chemistry thing," he said of his and Reese’s musical bond. “From the first time I played guitar with other people, it’d be just me and a drummer jamming. And it’s funny now that Jason and I are in Farnsworth together, because that’s how I got my start -- just jamming with a drummer. There’s just something really raw and primal about that connection.”

“It’s a little different; it’s freeing,” Reese said of the configuration. “When we had a bassist, I just played in the pocket. I didn’t really branch out or do anything flashy. There’s more sound to fill out.”

Vance said recording the EP with Bud Carroll at Trackside Studios in Barboursville was invaluable.

“Recording with Bud Carroll was an absolute pleasure,” he said. “He’s been a friend of ours for a while. He’s a great musician; not only that: he’s a great guy, and he has a really good ear.”

The singer-guitarist recalled the inexplicable hilarity of meeting Carroll when Farnsworth was still a trio.

“We were rehearsing on Lee Street, and we were playing Free’s “Mister Big,” just jamming out in the dining room, and there’s a picture window that looks out onto the street. We’re playing and I’m going into this solo, I open my eyes, and I’d never met Bud Carroll, Jason had, and there’s Bud Carroll and Sierra Ferrell formerly of 600 lbs. of Sin, and they’re standing right in the living room three feet away from me.

“We finished playing and he introduced himself and we talked music and kept in touch. For us really it was a no-brainer and seemed so natural to use Trackside Studios. Bud is a great engineer, and a great producer.

“When we went into the studio, it was really an experiment because we’d been together for a year, and seven months out of that year, we were a three-piece and we had just changed to a two-piece. So we were like ‘We’ve got these songs we’ve been working on, but let’s try to record this.’”

While citing more contemporary influences and favorites like Buffalo Killers, The Suede Brothers and Shepherdstown’s The Demon Beat, Vance recalled a particularly transformative experience seeing a two-piece rock band as a teen.

“The first band that I ever saw that really got my blood going was a band from Baltimore called Stars of the Dogon. They played the American Legion in Saint Albans. I was like 15 years old, and I couldn’t drive. I remember seeing them come in with guitar amp after guitar amp and a drum kit, and it was just two guys on stage.

“We were like ‘Where’s the bassist?’ And they just put on this show that I’ll never forget. It changed me from then on. It was the most passionate, raw thing I’d ever seen.”

He hopes that Farnsworth will inspire just as much passion in others as Stars of the Dogon did in him.

“We hope to play as much as we can, for whoever, whenever, wherever,” Vance said. “We’re hoping that when we play shows, people feel the same thing that Jason and I do when we listen to these records or see these great bands. We just hope it takes us where we want to go.”

Vance said that as Farnsworth, he and Reese -- two dudes in their mid-20s with an affection for records older than they are -- embody something timeless about rock and roll.

“I’ll say this: first off, us being big vinyl fans, one of the first questions I get, and I imagine Jason gets a lot is, when you talk to people about records, some go ‘They still make those?’

“One of the best things about playing out of state or going to Budget is, there are new vinyl records being pressed every single day by amazing and wonderful bands like The Demon Beat and The Suede Brothers,” Vance continued.

“I don’t know. I feel like people want to say that rock is dead, but it’s out there, and the passion and the lust for pure rock and roll is out there. It never goes away.”

Vance said that he and Reese hope to release a full-length record by this time next year. It’s safe to assume it will probably be on vinyl.

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