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Far and Away

Michael Mueller

Hard-rock band Far defies the odds and makes it from Sacramento the big time

By Nicky Baxter

It's not a pleasant admission, but it appears true: Sacramento is not the choicest spot from which to launch a vertically inclined rock career. Not that it hasn't been done before, but it's not easy; just ask the guys in Helen Keller Plaid or Cake. (It's no coincidence that Helen Keller Plaid had to migrate south to make some waves; and even then, the group never quite took off.)

Hard-rock outfit Far, however, is not ashamed of its central California roots. Look where it's gotten them so--ahh--far: a record deal with label major Epic and a subsequent new release, the enigmatically titled Tin Cans With Strings to You. The quartet is currently touring with mid-range buzzers God Lives Underwater (they play July 17 at the Edge in Palo Alto).

From the ashes of a savage-sounding hardcore act five years ago, guitarist Shaun Lopez recruited drummer Chris Robyn, a high school acquaintance, bass player John Gutenberger and singer Jonah Matranga. Scrapping a handful of cash together, the boys recorded Quick, selling the CD at performances. But it was the four-song EP In the Aisle, Yelling that drew the attention of Immortal Records, an indie affiliate of Epic.

Hellbent on making the kind of heavy rock that semiliterates could get with, Far has cited smart alecks like PJ Harvey as well as brutal dudes Helmut as sonic road marks designating where the band wants to go, musically. Judging by the tunesmithing on Tin Cans, Far has succeeded in sidestepping the dumbo-rock tag. While very, very capable of rockin' the bells with gale force, the quartet can also go on the quiet, as well. Despite its humble Sacto beginnings, Far is going places.

Far plays with God Lives Underwater July 17 at the Edge, 260 California Ave., Palo Alto. Tickets are $6 adv. (415/324-EDGE)

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