Most 9-month-old bands are happy with a few really good rehearsals and a handful of successful gigs. The rockers of Cincinnati’s Farehaven had no interest in a lengthy incubation period when they coalesced last June.
“I think our first gig was a month and a half into being a band,” bassist Rob Jamison says while laughing over coneys at Camp Washington Chili. “We were scared, I ain’t gonna lie. I was like, ‘Man, that’s way too quick.’ ”
“I was impatient, man; I was ready to get out there and go,” vocalist/guitarist David Sizemore says.
“I felt like I was getting too old. I was like, ‘Let’s go, let’s play shows, I’m gonna be a grandpa soon,’ ” he adds, jokingly.
That same determination motivated the band to tweak Sizemore’s existing songs and come up with new ones and to start work last November on Farehaven’s debut full-length, the just-released and improbably accomplished Upside Down. The disc reveals a band that blends Classic and Modern Rock, touching on core influences like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Creed yet moving beyond them.
“We’re going to keep progressing and raising the bar on ourselves,” Sizemore says. “I’m proud to have an album done by a full band.”
This is the second iteration of a Sizemore band with the same name. The earlier incarnation of Farehaven (named after the street where Sizemore grew up) was comprised of high school friends who weren’t interested in pursuing music as a career. With the discovery of Jamison and drummer Dan Durrant, Sizemore has bandmates that share his commitment, ambition and passion.
“These guys have the same mentality — they want to make it, they want to be serious, they want to practice and be good,” Sizemore says.
“That’s what makes it work. We have the same musical interests and passion and drive. I feel like we’ve got a strong foundation and we’ll be together a long time.”
There is an element of destiny in this new configuration. Sizemore and Durrant found each other last summer through CityBeat’s musician classifieds. Sizemore was looking to resurrect Farehaven as a serious band and Durrant was dissatisfied with his band situation.
“Our guitarist was constantly changing what he wanted to do and I couldn’t wait for him,” Durrant says. “Then I found David. The first few times were kind of iffy — we were just trying to learn his songs that he’d already recorded. Then we actually did a jam and that’s where we connected.”
After several practices, Durrant and Sizemore recognized a palpable synergy between them. Durrant then contacted Jamison, a good friend and sporadic bandmate since junior high. Jamison had relocated to Pennsylvania for college and moved back, but had largely abandoned any thoughts of music.
“I’d been out of the game,” Jamison says. “I came back and Dan talked me into it. The first time we practiced, I didn’t even have a bass. It was Dan’s bass and this little amp.”
Farehaven has benefited from some interesting connections along the way. Sizemore’s mass demo mailing, prior to Farehaven’s new lineup, got him a polite refusal from entertainment attorney Owen Sloan. But Sloan steered him to former Capitol Records executive Don Grierson, who mentored Sizemore as a songwriter. And occasional gigs with a different band ultimately led to Sizemore’s introduction to Blessid Union of Souls’ Eliot Sloan, who in turn introduced the band to Chris Schmidt, who recorded and mixed Upside Down.
Farehaven doesn’t fit comfortably in any single genre, as they borrow liberally from various styles to create an energetic Rock hybrid that works within a wide range of musical contexts. That flexibility will make them an excellent opening/multi-bill act going forward.
“I’ve asked people, ‘What would you consider our style? Who do we sound like?’ and they’re like, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Jamison says. “That’s awesome. It’s just Rock.”
“Bands like Kings of Leon or Muse have a Classic Rock vibe, but they do their own thing,” Sizemore says. “That appeals to people because you’re different. I’m not saying we’re the most original thing ever, but we have our own sound.”
So far Farehaven hasn’t had many opportunities to play out of town (a Louisville show has been the band’s longest trip), but they’re planning to increase their tour radius while expanding their local fan base.
“We were less experienced as a band,” Durrant says of their Louisville trip. “We’re more in tune with each other now. When we first started, our shows weren’t at their full potential, but we’re getting up there.”
“We’ve been on stage now and we’re getting our routine down,” Sizemore says. “We keep getting more comfortable and confident with it. We’re slowly building our following. It’s just making everything stronger.”
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