With their first EP Monad, see our review here, Farer have created 4 tracks of despair and suffering using two bass guitars, drums and the human voice in all its severe forms. An intriguing combination and something we wanted to know about. Luckily we managed to sit down and set some questions to Frank de Boer and Arjan van Dalen – Bass/vocals and drummer/percussionist Sven Jurgens.
Difficult times, how has this crisis affected you guys as a whole? All safe and well?
SJ: Difficult times indeed. First of all we are fortunate to not have experienced the full impact of covid first hand. Our thoughts are with those who have and we hope that everybody is safe and well. All impact it had on us is small compared to that, but still it has impacted us all to a different degree.
FdB and AvD have seen a lot of their work disappear, as they are both have been working in the music business/cultural sector. As for myself the impact was minor in my day to day work, but these are uncertain times for all of us.
First things first. The fact that you use two bass guitars. We have had bass led bands before but two seems an interesting twist. How do you go about recording instruments that are similar in range especially when the only other contribution is a drum kit (vocals excluded of course)
SJ: Although we make use of two bass guitars, they are not equal. We have tried to treat basically one of them as the lead bass and the other as the true bass. This meant playing in different octaves, different equalizing and different set-up in terms of effects and amps.
FdB: With lead bass and true bass we mean that lead bass is being implemented the same way you would a guitar in a traditional drum, bass, guitar setup. Meaning it’s less about interlocking with the drums and more about telling a story on top of the rhythm-section (That being Sven and Arjan.). Once we decided what the roles were, it was a matter of trying out ideas to see what worked in terms of dividing two basses but also have them complement each other at the same time. For starters, Arjan is playing fingerstyle and I’m playing with a pick. Combine that with Arjan playing mostly on the low strings and me at least one octave up from that and you’re beginning to get somewhere. To throw in some gear talk; I’m playing a Fender Precision through a Sunn Beta Bass into a Marshall 1960 and Arjan is going for the old Rickenbacker 4003 into a Trace Elliot AH1000-12 amp and cab 4×10. There’s also some pedalmagic going on.
How do you even go about writing for two bass guitars? I’m guessing it was a conscious decision to go this route but do you guys miss having more than the four strings?
SJ: Sometimes four strings is all you need to get the point across 😉 More seriously, it is great working in this set-up. Creativity often comes from setting limitations. Also for the music that we want to make this setup give us more depth and low end, which really works well. We also tried to work a lot with layering in the recording process and where we couldn’t achieve our goals with bass alone, we used synthesizers.
FdB: As I explained earlier, once we had decided who had which role in the arrangements it gave us handholds in how to approach the writing process. Not missing a guitar at all. There’s an old saying in the Netherlands: “Vier snaren en de waarheid”. Which basically sums it up.
How did you guys come to be in a band together? Do you all share common inspirations?
SJ: FdB and myself have played together in Ortega and a number of other bands, so we know each other for a long time now.
AVD: The music scene in Groningen is very interesting but not that big. I went to the same university as Frank and played in a couple of different projects with them both before Farer came to be.
You guys took a while to perfect your debut? Where did the ideas for the tracks come from? Is working with a theme important to your song writing?
SJ: we definitely tried to work from a unifying theme on this record. All songs have been around for some time as an idea or basic framework, and have gone through numerous iterations to get to what they are now. The process usually starts with FdB coming up with the basic idea, which gets moulded and shaped by the three of us over time. Especially for this album it took some time as ideas continually changed into a more and more extreme form and in making sure that we were happy with every part of each song.
AVD: It was our first time, as a band, creating an album, and we were just really curious. In my memory the process was never really painstakingly. It was quite the opposite. A real collaborative effort.
FdB: I guess, back when we started writing as a band, I had interests in different fields of sciences, and wanting to have a theme or concept to have us all facing the same way in terms of artistic input, I just suggested all kinds of articles, wikipages, books, and films to Arjan and Sven. Seeing what peaked their interests made me go deeper down some rabbitholes and eventually that culminated in what the album is about.
I particularly like the art work to go with the EP? Who was behind that? Is the artwork something you guys hold up as quite important?
SJ: We see the music and artwork as a complete package. The album is written around a certain theme, that must be reflected in all other utterances, be it music, artwork, live shows or videos.
For the artwork we had the pleasure of working with our long time friend Niels Verwijk. He really knows what we are trying to achieve, and it worked out great.
AVD: The interaction with Niels is very natural. We present a story with a clear mood/tone and from there on it is all him. There is very little polishing that needs to be done from that point on.
What songs are you looking forward to playing live when you get the chance? What does an average Farer gig look and sound like?
SJ: We’ve only been able to play the new songs live twice in a couple of tryouts, so we are really anxious to share them live with everybody.
AVD: In a way the record is one complete piece divided into 4 songs. The idea is that the listener immerses itself completely by listening to it uninterrupted from start to finish. The same goes for our live performance. We play the record in its entirety, which is emotional and psychically very demanding.
Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of? AVD: I would love to have shared the bill with Fugazi. Not that great of a match genre-wise, but since we are hypothetical.
FdB: I would love to see/play together with Big Brave. Their last album is amazing.
Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like for the band?
SJ: Our first (and only) certainty for now is the release of our full length on November 20th. What comes after? Who knows. We at least hope to again play some shows in the foreseeable future. Regardless however, we keep ourselves busy with writing new material.
AVD: I think the creation of new music and the experimentation that goes with it, is the core of our band. At least for me. So I am grateful that we are still able to do that.
What music are you digging right now? Any particular artists do you would love to see make it?
AVD: At the moment I really enjoy May Our Chambers Be Full, the collaborative effort from Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou.
FdB: Can’t wait for that The Body and Big Brave collab.
Thank you to the guys for answering our questions.
Check out ‘Phanes’, below: