Taken from an article by Ian Jacoby in Volume One. Thursday, June 25, 2009.
South Farwell is a band almost too earnest for its own good. “Just make me sound witty and charming,” laughs lead singer, Bill Boles over the phone. It comes at the end of an interview that has seen Boles dish out plenty of both aforementioned qualities, but perhaps even more pervasive than wit or charm is the feeling of earnestness that Boles emanates. He believes in his band, he believes in his songs, and (most refreshingly) he believes in the pure and simple beauty of a life restarted.
Boles is perhaps best known as an integral cog in the local “porch-rock” band Easychair. Boles joined the group in 2001 at the tender age of 21, and continued until they started to wave in 2007. The years since the band broke up have seen Boles grow as a singer-songwriter, opening up for local acts at venues across the Chippewa Valley. As Boles says, South Farwell was a natural progression from where he was as a songwriter.
“With Easychair it was a great guitar-driven rock sound, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I’m much more into people like Patty Griffin and Ray Lamontagne. Really personal singer/songwriters.”
The result is the beautiful Tear Everything Down, coming out July 10. Boles, along with Tim Coughlin, Phil Juodis, and Cory Dahl evoke the spirit of early Springsteen, Ray Lamontagne, and even local favorites DeYarmond Edison.
“It’s weird,” says Dahl. “We originally started three years ago, then had to stop (for various reasons) ... we restarted last year with some of the same material, but completely revised it.”
The new direction saw the influence of local producer Mike Vlahakis. “He brought a more polished sound to what we do; we always envisioned having (different instruments) on the album, but Mike really brought them to life,” says Dahl.
And it is true. Tear Everything Down is awash in chops of B3 organ, in shimmering horn lines, and in plenty of rollicking piano, but the biggest asset to the band is still its pure and simple earnestness. Dahls’ drums thump with a weight that works its way into your very bones, Coughlin and Juodis lay down severely solid sonic foundations, and on top of all of this is Boles’ voice, ringing and clear. It’s deceptively simple, and beautifully executed.
It may be simplistic to think that a band can change your worldview, that something as trivial as music can change the very foundation of the world we live in. But just maybe, there is something to the idea that music can transcend the fear that exists in perpetuity in these United States. If that is the case, South Farwell may stand for something that exists beyond danceabillity or hipness. South Farwell may, in fact, stand for hope.