Dear readers, we are pleased to offer you in this article an interview with an American band that released in 1971 one of the most sought after albums by fans and collectors. Welcome Farm.
Hi, how are you?
Hi, doing fine here in rural Southern Illinois.
The band was formed in 1969, how did this project come about?
Originally the idea was to get our sound out to radio and fans. Fifty years later now the torch has passed to Guerssen Records keeping our music alive.
In those years Psychedelic and Rock sounds were forged, what memories do you have of that magical period?
I still have vibrant memories of the fun we had and comaraderie between band members, sound crew, roadies and fans. The first few bars of every show were exciting as the sound came together. I don’t remember it ever feeling anything but right and tight. I could always hear everyone well and we played together with ease. This allowed for a wonderful creativity.
“Farm” is a milestone for collectors and lovers of Heavy Blues / Psychedelic sounds, what can you tell us about the record?
Seems to me our sound man George Leemon, chose Golden Voice Studio where we recorded. Gerry Milam had great outboard gear and microphones. Not a lot of it, but the really great gear, API console, Pultecs and LA2a’s so sought after today. And…. we were recording together, live, to analog tape. Chet Atkins had been referring folks to Golden Voice, legendary engineer Bill Porter worked there….Jerry was very hip. I have a clear memory of Jerry being “straight” looking but in fact he was one of us and treated us really well, with concern and kindness. He helped immensely. The tracks were cut quickly with few stops or re-takes. We played fairly loud, but only used a small portion of our amps. Del had a little Fender Vibrolux as I recall. While it was pretty loud in the studio with only panels partially separating us, considerable bleed into all mics especially drums, congas and timbale mics, it contributed to the live sound.
Your only album “Farm” was released in 1971, what themes was the album about?
The only themed record I knew of back then was “Tommy”. Nothing of that sort here. We had just lost our lead singer and were putting down some of our current live show. We already had a large repertroire but lost a some of that with the departure of our singer.
The live activities and the festivals were intense in that period, is there any event in particular that marked your experience?
Our first gig without our lead singer about a week before we cut the record was at a Farm outside of Mt. Vernon. A spur of the moment gig, we set up on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon on three or four risers in a field. Word spread like lightning and a nice crowd of Farm fans and friends gathered. No police. We were loud. Not a big rumble like today, but crystal clear volume. Today the police would shut down a spontaneous show like that! I went out front and sat with friends on a blanket for Jim’s bass solo and Mike’s drum solo. It was a wonderful time. Everyone on blankets in the field together.
Your album has recently been reissued by Guerssen Records, and is available in different formats, what are the characteristics of this new edition?
The new release is on vinyl, cd and available for download. Nice inserts with memories, some pictures and interviews. I’m working on records most days. I work at Inside-Out Studio in rural Southern Illinois and am partnered with the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama. I produce records for artists from both the U.S. and abroad as well as playing guitar dobro and harmonica on sessions. This fall I’ll be working on sessions in Nashville and work closely with acoustic guitarist Ivas John both live and in the studio.
Given the renewed interest in the band thanks to the new reissue, are there any plans for a resumption of musical activity?
I have no plans at present to begin new work with Farm. We do have the one surviving live tape at Muscle Shoals and shall see if there’s something there. I’d love to find some film or recording of Farm from the 71, 72, early 73 era. Currently, I’ve six records in progress. Those require attention and time to bring to fruition.
Music has changed a lot over the years and is constantly evolving, how do you see the future of the Rock genre?
Personally, I don’t listen to modern rock nor blues. It’s so far removed from anything I played and loved. I do listen each week to The Beatles, Creme, Traffic, Dylan, The Byrds, ect. Albert King still spins on the turntable round home along with Savoy Brown and B.B. Thru my friend Greg Hopkins, I got hip to NRBQ over thirty years ago and have seen them live many times. They shared a lot of similarities with Farm….powerful, dynamic and great sound, no smoke and lighting bullshit just great music. I love NRBQ. Maybe if live sound can evolve to being good again there could be some hope for rock music. I’m pretty skeptical that can happen in the U.S. Sound crews here seldom know much about how to properly mix.
What advice would you give to young artists who approach music by offering more refined sounds like yours?
Young artists should study and work at how to sound good when playing with others. How to stop relying upon pedals. How to set up close together and listen to each other. The drummer and bassist have to lock in together. How to play with dynamics and use good vocal technique. Please don’t just “eat the mic” Have a look at Roger Daltry fronting a very loud “Who” None of them ate the mic. Learn how to play very clean as well as with distortion. Use tube amplifiers. Play together and not in your own world. Smile and have fun!
Years ago while on a European tour, I was doing an interview in The Netherlands with E.O. from the National Broadcast Center in Hilversum. The interview was quite well respected yet his first question to me was “Why is live sound so bad in America?” I think we must have great sound onstage again. If we can get that then we must teach sound engineers how to translate sound to the audience.
Thanks to Farm for the interview and the opportunity to review their great music.
I’m very thankful to have a record made with old friends that lives on today. I appreciate everyone’s efforts, especially yours and the foks at Guerssen Records. Farm Out!
Read our review of the album here: