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Progressive Rock Interviews

Farpoint

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Farpoint from 2009
MSJ: Can you give our readers a look at the history of your group and your involvement in music?
Kevin Jarvis: Well, the basis for the group was my meeting with Rick back in '95 or '96. I had been writing some songs with a few other people but they had kind of drifted off in different directions. I met Rick and found out he played drums and was very into some of the bands I loved...Yes, Rush, Kansas, Floyd, and so on...So we kept in touch and eventually I asked him to play drums on some of my songs. Our styles worked together so well and so naturally that we immediately decided to start a band. This would have been early '97. From there we spent a couple of years writing, recording, and searching for other musicians. We started playing out in late '98, recorded a 2 song single in 2000, and our first album, First Light, in 2002. Of course, Rick had to step away from the band for a couple of years for personal and job related reasons, but he came back in 2003 and has been with us ever since. We played a bunch of shows and released two more albums in 2003 (Grace) and 2004 (From Dreaming to Dreaming). The core of the original lineup split up in late 2005, but Rick, Frank and I reformed in 2006 with new singers Dean Hallal and Jennifer Meeks. Our fourth album, Cold Star Quiet Star, came out in 2008. We've been through a few lead guitarists since then but we now have Dave Auerbach in that position and it looks like he'll be around for a while.

Frank Tyson: I taught myself guitar starting at age 14 and within a year or two added bass to my interests, so I've been playing guitar and bass since the beginning. I've been in several bands playing bass or guitar since the tenth grade (1972) and always appreciated classical music, and the connection to progressive rock was clear to me from the start with Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Yes - Pink Floyd, etc. I first met Kevin and Rick in 1999 after nearly a decade of not playing in any band. We spent three or four weekends trading musical ideas and getting to know each other. It was during this time that I was facing the decision as to whether I would be the guitarist, leaving us to hunt for a bassist, or vice-versa. After a weekend of reasoned thought I settled on being Farpoint's bass guitarist, because the new prospect of performing original compositions with a typical bassist going BOOM-BOOM-BOOM playing eighth notes and "staying with the drummer" conjured up a plethora of dismal adjectives in my mind. I was determined to keep things busy, interesting, and at least deviate somewhat from what's considered a bassist's traditional role. In the ten years I've worked with Kevin and Rick, I pulled duty on 12-string guitar, baritone guitar, 8-string bass, and guitar-synthesizer too. I'm confident the other band members will agree, there's little in life that brings more joy than playing music for an audience that came straight from the heart. We've been through some member changes, which always throws a monkey wrench into a group's stride, but each time we were blessed with new friends, new talent, and a positive outlook.

It's a joy working with Farpoint, really. No one's copping an attitude, no one's trying to be "the star", or the boss, and everyone has room to contribute according his/her gifts, experiences, and abilities.
MSJ: Where does the name Farpoint come from? Is there some significance to it?
Frank Tyson: Kevin will be the one to let this cat out of the bag. However, I do continue to maintain a proper set of sideburns courtesy of Cap'n Jimbo T. Kirk.

Kevin Jarvis: It's actually from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We liked the sound and the simplicity of it, as well as the indication of striving to reach something that's difficult to achieve.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
Dean Hallal: Wishing I was involved in music.

Frank Tyson: Hmmm....lemme see here, I don't play golf, tennis, football, baseball, ...I don't hunt, I'm a lousy fisherman, got no interest in "bubba-racing" (NASCAR), and I'm not confident I could pass the phase one entrance test for membership in the liar's club. Heck, if I couldn't be involved in music, I'd have to lay down and die of boredom!

Kevin Jarvis: I've tried my hand at writing a little...I enjoy it but am not sure if I'd be any good at it. Music is my passion and my calling, and I can't see anything else ever replacing it.
MSJ: How would you describe the sound of Farpoint?
Frank Tyson: It ain't easy to nail us down, short-n-sweet. Play two songs from any Farpoint album for a stranger and they'll most likely think it was two different bands. We've recorded a respectable variety of tones, colors, textures, and attitudes over the last eight years, some a bit grungy, some are spaced-out, others earthy-folksy, and some songs have ended up downright symphonic. It's a safe assumption that folks who enjoy the majority of  progressive rock's original progenitors will find plenty to like in our recordings.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Kevin Jarvis: Well, we are currently preparing to begin recording our fifth CD, tentatively titled “Paint the Dark.” Hopefully we'll begin final recording in January, release the album in the springtime, and play some shows in the summer and fall to promote it. Then we'll see how we feel and base where we go from there on that.

Frank Tyson: Keep contributing to the band's diversity...Is there funk in outer space? If so, we'll probably figure out a way to articulate it, but only if it feels right.
MSJ: Are there musicians you'd like to play with in the future?
Kevin Jarvis: Oh sure, lots of them. In fact, I am just in the earliest stages of a project with three musicians from established progressive rock bands around the country whose work I admire. I'd rather not say any more on that subject just yet but hopefully there will be an announcement coming early in 2010.

Frank Tyson: It's always a give and take learning experience to pluck strings with a new acquaintance. Aside from that, it sure would be fun to play bass-guitar for Steve Morse, or Steve Howe, or Steve Hackett, or Steve Khan, or Steve Roach, or....well, you get the idea.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
Dean Hallal: The easier it is for people to get to music the better it is for musicians to get their music out there. Rather than the "come to us" attitude of the major labels, the industry has to take advantage of the technology available today to appeal to a wider base of listeners. Lower sales of records is just a sign that the industry has to adapt to the listeners' needs. If they didn't over the years we'd still be listening to 8-tracks. Music is a universal language meant to be shared. The artists that make the big bucks are just a way for the folks who "own" them to make their money. Do we want to sell lots of records and make money? Sure, but our first reason for doing what we do is to share our passion for our music  and the message we want to convey and if that means someone hijacking our songs for free somewhere and becoming a fan and changing in some way because of that then so be it.

Frank Tyson: I have an IPOD loaded to the gills with albums from my collection, and I've never downloaded anything! I don't want to download any music, ever! I'm a music lover. I wallow in Jazz, Classical, Prog, Metal, New Age/space/ambient, etc...and if I like an artist/selection, I want to OWN
IT! - you know, a CD, an LP, (those really big black CD's), something tangible, permanent, with cover art, photos, lyrics, up to and including all of that "we wish to thank" stuff. I suspect that the bulk of the rip-off thieving downloaders are younger tech-savvy consumers of pop culture fare. However, not to belittle anyone's musical preferences, artists hailing from all genres have been knee-capped, or at least short changed to some extent.

Would I agree? Dern-Toot'n! It sticks in the craw of musicians, producers, engineers, even the lowly-humble fat-cat cigar-chomping executives. Think about it, if the masses enjoy your works for free, why bother working?
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Kevin Jarvis: Personally I have no problem with this. A live show is very different from a recorded album. Honestly I'm flattered to know someone's into the band enough to want to record and trade for our shows.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?
Dean Hallal: Marilyn Manson. Not because of his music but because of the misconception vulnerable youth get by the way he looks and the darkness they think the songs portray.

Kevin Jarvis: Sometimes I feel like musically I'm my own worst enemy...Does that count?
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
Kevin Jarvis: Good question, and I'm sure my answer would be different if you asked me tomorrow, but for today here goes. For diversity's sake I'll try not to include more than one from any established band.

Chris Thompson -vocals

Mary Fahl - vocals

Mike Oldfield - guitar

Tony Banks - keys

Chris Squire - bass

Simon Phillips - drums

David Ragsdale - violin

Frank Tyson: Steve Morse and Eric Johnson to cover the guitars, Larry Fast
(Synergy) on keys, Carl Palmer on skins, Mike Oldfield on anything/everything else, Tony Levin on bass & stick. Lead vocals would best be served-up by the down to earth grit of Joachim F. Krauledat. Most of us know him as John Kay.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing?
Frank Tyson: Steppenwolf, Grand Funk, Robin Trower, Van-Halen, Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Pat Metheney Group, Larry Fast, John Serrie, Steve Roach, Mike
Oldfield.

Kevin Jarvis: Well, to be the ultimate festival it would probably have to be about a week long (Can you say "ear fatigue?") and include some old favorites like Yes, Kansas and the Moody Blues along with some less known groups like the Rocket Scientists, Grey Eye Glances and Seven Nations (with Neil Anderson onboard, of course). Maybe throw in a reunion of Gentle Giant and a reunion of the original October Project for good measure.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
Dean Hallal: David Crowder Band, Remedy.

Kevin Jarvis: Muse - The Resistance (as good as current pop-rock gets, in my opinion); Tomahawk - Anonymous (unlike anything else I've ever heard, and very powerful); Astra - The Weirding (retro, but in a good way); Fates Warning - A Pleasant Shade of Gray (my favorite prog-metal album of all time, so full of emotion)

Frank Tyson: Leonard Slatkin: St.Louis Symphony Orchestra (track 1) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Immerse yourself in this one-visceral, yet relaxing.  (track 6) Percy Grainger - Irish Tune From County Derry, "Danny Boy". When  Percy passed away in the mid-60's he left us with a vast legacy of folk music and traditional arrangements, all of them correct, complete and fully encompassing their meaning/origins. The first time I ever heard this tune, I was four years old, and it was a jazzed-up ditty of theme music for a weekly sit-com back when television was black-and-white. Over the years I've encountered numerous versions of this song, but nothing like this! It has now been elevated to its proper and lofty pinnacle. A true music lover's heart will skip a beat or two when this one plays. And the icing on the cake – it’s on the TELARC label, the Rolls-Royce of sonic purity/ recording quality. Git-R-Done on some substantial speakers and every Irishman in the neighborhood will pause in reverence.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Dean Hallal: Trans Siberian Orchestra

Kevin Jarvis: Heart then ProgDay all in one weekend in September.

Frank Tyson: Yes -The Masterworks Tour. It felt like God was trying to remind us of how blessed we are.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Kevin Jarvis: Oh, we've had a few over the years. Our very first show ever would probably qualify, but it would take up too much space to go into all that...I guess I can most relate to the moment when someone called them "Spinal Tarp," because we've been called everything from Earpoint to Ballpoint to Fairport and more.

Frank Tyson: Upon the release of Cold Star-Quiet Star we subsequently played at Patriot Hall, a nearly perfect stage setup with lots of room, big hall acoustics, curtain control, lighting, rear-projection animations from David Frain (our album cover artist), and God bless 'em lots of help from the roadies. We kicked off the set and after the second or third song, the stage lights went from full bright to pitch-black as the song ended. The lights didn't come up until the band started the next song, and there I stood, three bars late frantically trying to hit my foot-switches and pedals to select the proper tone/program. I must have looked like a nervous politician trying to stomp out a fire ant mound! Lesson learned: provide your own floorboard lighting, because MIDI equipment doesn't read minds!
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
Frank Tyson: After slogging through several bands worth of 3-chord roots-rock/pop tunes, it's a joy and a relief to blaze your own trail with like-minded musicians who operate from the same book. Shoot, half the time we're all on the same page. A fellow musician/old friend recently asked me what would it take for me to leave Farpoint and join his band. Leave musical freedom? Give up my steak and lobster for burger-fries-and-a-coke?! Not likely dude. But I suppose a polite group of Italian diplomats could talk me into it...you know, pin-striped suits, pinky rings, a tommy-gun, a burp gun....who knows?

Kevin Jarvis: I'm just thankful for the chance to make this music and have it heard...There may be downfalls to the internet age from a music downloading standpoint, but at the same time it's never been so easy for an independent band or artist to get their music out there, and have it heard. So I'm thankful for organizations like the Music Street Journal who keep on working hard to get the word out there, just for the love of the music. And lastly, thanks to everyone who listens!
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find extra content from this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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