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Striking A Chord Pt 2 With James Farrow

Our instrumental series in gaining momentum, and I’ve had some really interesting answers to our questions so far. This time round James Farrow from The Unloved answers my interview about guitars.

First off can you introduce us to you, and your guitar playing history?

My name’s James, or Faz for short. I play in a band called Unloved at the moment, playing mainly hardcore punk mixed with crust influences. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 16, but wasn’t in my first band until I was about 20. Before then I mainly messed about on my own and got good enough to be able to teach a friend to improve his playing. I have previously been in two punk bands, Subject to Change, and the B******k Stoppers, and have an acoustic project that I’ve been working on for ages.

How do you find the guitar as an instrument to play?

Very easy to be honest. It’s probably the easiest instrument to pick up the basics with, but the mastery of some of the fiddly bits takes a lot of time. It took me quite a while to build up speed so I could play some of the stuff I wanted to play, but when you manage it, it opens up a lot of writing possibilities.

What do you think are the most common mistakes people make while playing the guitar?

Playing wise, there’s not that many mistakes you can make. Writing wise, there’s loads. I think the worst thing you can do in my experience is write as if no one else is in the band with you. While that may sound weird, what I mean is that it’s easy to write all the riffs so the attention is on you all the time, whereas the vocals should be the main focus, and other instruments need space as well. I suppose just because you can play something complex, doesn’t mean you should do it all the way through every song, as it can turn into one big solo.

Is there anything specific you have to be aware of when playing different types of music?

Well, you have to generate a different kind of mood and emotion with each style, be it anger, sadness or happiness. You just have to bear in mind what you’re trying to do really, so no ska breaks in a death metal song. It definitely doesn’t work, from experience. So if you’re writing a song about the Rwandan genocide, its best to stick to minor chords, as otherwise it just sounds weird.

Are there any websites, learning methods, resources you’d recommend to learners?

Well, the way I learnt was just getting tabs off the internet for songs I wanted to play, and just progressively getting harder songs. I’d normally also pick something new up with each song, so you can slowly progress while keeping it interesting. I’ve never had any tuition, which shows sometimes, but I’m always able to do whatever’s required of me. Another thing that helps is to play with other guitarists, and to be open to new ideas and ways of playing. Everyone has their own style of playing, and you can find out a bit more about yours by playing with others.

Can you play any other instruments, or would you like to?

I can play piano and was taught up to about grade one and a half when I was younger, but as a result I can’t really write anything on piano. And I do have a tin whistle at home somewhere but I can’t do anything on it.

Are there any interesting, surprising, or even slightly cheesey songs among your guitar playing repertoire?

I did try and learn total eclipse of the heart, but I couldn’t work out the piano bit on guitar. I think I can still play Rollin by Limp Bizkit, but it’s not something I go back to very often. And the terminator theme tune, now that I think of it.

You’ve got the Rock Band game out all ready to play, but who would you love to complete your ultimate band line-up?

I think I’d have the drummer from monster squad, Justin sane from anti flag on guitar, the bassist from behind enemy lines and Greg Graffin on vocals. I think they’re all masters of their craft.

As your now playing professionally in a band, what would you like to tell us about them?

We’re the best! Cheers.

Faz x x x
www.myspace.com/unlovedfyp
www.myspace.com/bilbopunk

If you play Piano/Keyboard/Saxophone, or any other instrument (not guitars), please get in touch. lauren.john@music.co.uk. I’d love to hear from you and send you an interview!

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