Chris Robyn: Drums | John Gutenberger: Bass guitar | Shaun Lopez: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric) | Jonah Matranga: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals

Genre: Alternative, Rock

Sound description: Ambient indie rock that defined, if not created, the screamo genre.

RIYL: The Deftones, Argent, the Refused, the Revolution Smile, Milwaukee, Gratitude, Jackpot

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Inception: San Diego, 1994

Current Status: Following Far's break-up in spring 1999, singer Jonah Matranga reemerged with Onelinedrawing. On tour with the band Thursday, he discovered the guys were Far fans, and they teamed up on stage to perform "Mother Mary" from the album <em>Water & Solutions.</em> "We tacked a different ending on to it, but essentially played it true," he says. "There's also a U.K. band, Funeral for a Friend, who cover our song "The System." Jonah still plays his Far songs onstage. Guitarist Shaun Lopez has formed his own band, the Revolution Smile, while drummer Chris Robyn and bassist John Gutenberger formed the band Milwaukee.

Influences: Fugazi, Promise Ring, Sunny Day, Quicksand, Jawbox, Argent, the Revolution Smile, Gratitude, Jackpot


Far had its beginnings in 1992, in Sacramento, California, featuring guitarist Shaun Lopez, singer Jonah Matranga, his high school pal Chris Robyn, and bassist John Gutenberger. The quartet issued their first album, Listening Game, in late 1992 followed by Quick in 1994. When Quick became a local success, the group followed with several 7-inch vinyl singles and a popular four-song tape.They're considered one of the first "screamo" bands.

Wikipedia defines screamo as being "...a musical genre which evolved from emo, post-hardcore, more specifically hardcore emo in the early 1990s. Characteristic of the genre are hardcore screaming vocals and harmonized guitars.... In California in the early 1990s, Gravity Records from San Diego released many defining records of this style."

Troy Davis agrees that screamo had its beginnings in San Diego. When he was booking tours for Three Mile Pilot in the early '90s, he needed a band for three shows in Northern California. Davis realized that locally based Far was from Sacramento, so he contacted the band and went on to manage them during the early part of their career (from 1992 until early 1996). Davis considers Far's 1996 major-label debut, Tin Cans with Strings to You, to be the first screamo record.

"Plus, what screamo band doesn't have ballads?" Davis inquired as we listened to the final song from Tin Cans, the ballad "Sorrow's End."

How does the early version of the genre compare with today's brand of screamo?

"Every song wasn't structured exactly the same," says Davis. "Far was more influenced by grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins, but what differentiated Far from most of those bands was lead singer Jonah's screaming....

"The screamo scene has basically turned into the hair metal scene from the '80s. The kids look the same, the bands sound the same; it's the same way that Slaughter and Skid Row were marketed. It will go away as quickly as the hair-band stuff. The music is very timely and doesn't have much lasting potential."

Far's 1998 album Water & Solutions would be their last. The group split up in 1999. In 2006, Water & Solutions was named the third Most Essential Post Hardcore/Emo album by Kerrang! magazine. Last year, the same magazine listed the album in their Top 50 Most Influential Albums of All Time.

-- "Blurt," 11-22-06


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