Water & Solutions by Far has reached the grand old age of 20!

The world of 1998 when Far first released Water & Solutions was a different place: festivals are now multi-corporation events, Metallica are picking their set-lists via Spotify, the world is sadly without The Man Who Sold the World (R.I.P. Bowie), Trent Reznor has gone from the outsider to winning Oscars.  In an age when you can have an album streamed to your phone in seconds, it might seem strange that people would purchase albums on tapes, vinyl or CD and play them indoors.  But that was the world back then, times have certainly changed and not always for the better.

What hasn’t changed though my feelings towards Far.

Water & Solutions was released on March 10th, 1998 via Epic Records/Immortal Records.  It was their second album to be released via Epic after 1996’s Tin Cans with Strings to You. Both were preceded by Listening Game and Quick.  At the time, you would have possibly thought that they were about to explode onto another level.  They were touring with long-time friends Deftones, they were being offered tours with Incubus and System of a Down and were being called the King of the Emos by Kerrang! magazine.

Far from 1998


But for Far, it all fell apart and the band went their separate ways.

In 2010, they reformed and released At Night We Live.   This was (and still is) a beautiful return, but it was also a little too brief as Far went their separate ways again after its release.  But one thing that has been constant is that all the members have been doing something else, they have all created more music, which is a wonderful thing.  As Water & Solutions reached its 20th year of existence, Jonah Matranga has been touring the planet and playing it in its entirety to audiences big and small.  It’s been a passion project, one which I was lucky enough to witness in Newcastle upon Tyne at the Think Tank.  I’ve also been lucky enough for Jonah to agree to answer some questions in relation to Water & Solutions.

Photo by Gordon Armstrong

B.G.M.: Firstly, I would like to thank you for agreeing to answer these questions.

JONAH: Thanks for asking!

B.G.M.: Can you remember how you were feeling as Far approached recording Water & Solutions?

JONAH: I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what we had. We’d been fighting over songs & arrangements. Sardy (our producer) helped immeasurably.

B.G.M.: As with all Far albums, the main thing I take from the album is the depth of emotion that is on show. You’ve never been one to hide what you’re thinking, which is something I’ve always admired about you.  Do you still identify with the emotions on show on Water & Solutions?

JONAH: Yea, definitely. In fact, singing the album 20 years later, I’m hearing the songs in new ways. I tend to think songs are smarter than me. By the way, thank you, that’s sweet.

B.G.M.: Over in the UK, I still remember hearing “Mother Mary” and really digging the riff and the words.  Is there any moment of the album which stands out for you?

JONAH: Yea, I’m really happy with the way that one turned out from start to finish. The sonic moment of the record for me is the kick-in at the outro of “In 2 Again”. Honestly, Sardy made everything sound so good, we were worried after we made it that we’d never be able to live up to it in concert. We settled in, though.

Photo by Gordon Armstrong

B.G.M.: Without wanting to sound rude here, have you ever tired of any of the songs or do they still hold the same allure as when they were new?

JONAH: For real, I still enjoy them all quite a bit. That’s kinda the reason I wanted to tour the album this year, cos I realized I still really enjoy the music, I think it’s aged well. There’s a lot of great records from back then that didn’t.

B.G.M.: After Water & Solutions, Far would lay dormant until the release of At Night We Live (another album I would recommend people check out).  How did that recording compare to W&S?

JONAH: Oh, totally different. Shaun did pretty much everything recording-wise for ANWL. He and I spent a lot of time sending ideas back and forth for ANWL, whereas we bashed stuff out in the rehearsal space for WS.

B.G.M.: As you mentioned at the recent show I saw in Newcastle, the members of Far are currently doing their own things.  Would you be able to confirm what the others are currently up to?

JONAH: Shaun is an amazing producer, always running around, so I’m not quite sure. Chris is in a pretty heavy band called Black Map that’s making some noise and travelling around, seems like it’s going well. Johnny still makes music with his wife in a great project called Two Sheds. Everyone seems happy. I’m happy about that.

B.G.M.:  When I saw you in Newcastle recently with the brilliant Witching Waves, you played “Nestle” and you read a piece from your book, Alone Rewinding.  This was a very moving way to open a show, how did you feel after you finished writing Alone Rewinding?

JONAH: Man, writing a book was exhausting in every way, but really rewarding. Makes writing songs look easy, honestly. I mean, writing a good song is really tough too, but yea, a book is a whole other animal. I can see why so many writers end up drinking too much and dying alone. I’m so happy I made it through, though. It’s a document that will always be there for anyone in my family, or a close friend, or anyone curious about trying to live a full life, really.

B.G.M.: I love the way that you’ve managed to continue making music on your own terms.  The way you promote and sell your stuff via your website (http://jonahmatranga.com/) is brilliant.  One of my favourite presents was a wedding present from my wife of a recording you made for me..  The idea, style and delivery are a great example of DIY and an inspiration, but how does it feel from your end?

JONAH: Thanks so much. Honestly, while I’m happy for the more traditional bits of success I’ve had, like releasing records on different labels and all, easily the most satisfying parts of my musical life have been the personal bits, and the longer I’ve gone on, the more I’ve focused on that. Knowing that the music is people’s lives that way is something that still blows me away.

B.G.M.:  Would you ever consider releasing one of the recordings of W&S from your current series of shows to celebrate its birthday?

JONAH: I’d love to if heard the right recording. I’ve never heard a whole recording that really felt like being at the show. I’ve heard bad recordings of great moments, and nice recordings of shows that just didn’t quite get there. I’ll keep trying, but I’ve not quite gotten it. We’ll see.

B.G.M.: If you could talk to yourself 20 years ago, would you give any advice to him?

JONAH: Part of me wants to tell young me not to argue so much, not to overthink things, not to try so hard, and there’s wisdom in that for sure. At the same time, all those things helped get me here, and I’m happy here, so who knows.

B.G.M.: What does the future hold for yourself?  Will you be out with R2 at any time soon?

JONAH: Yea, I’m definitely dreaming of some solo-ish shows with beats next year, and bring in the little robot out for fun. She might want too much money, though. She’s a total diva.

For me, Water & Solutions is Far at their creative peak.

Whilst I love all their albums, Water & Solutions is the one where it all comes together.  You can trace a lot of bands genesis point to this recordMuch the same way that you can with Angel Dust by Faith No More.  It started a genre before it became something that marketing departments would change.  It was one of the original Emo records! This is “Emotional Rock” before it was a fashion statement when it was a youth movement.  At that time, it was all about raw and heartfelt messages and songs.

You cannot fake those emotions, it’s just not possible. If you do then you’re quickly found out if it’s fake.  Far where (I still want to type are) a band who would wear their hearts on their collective sleeve.  They were also a band that made the world listen.  Jonah is also spot on when he says that it’s aged well.  “Mother Mary”, “Bury White”, “Waiting for Sunday” and “In2 Again”, I could name each song!  Each of them still has those moments where the chills are sent down my spine.  That feeling of excitement when this is played has never left me, I don’t think it ever will.  In a world that changes all the time, it’s nice to have some constants as well.

If you’ve never heard Water & Solutions before, why not do it now?