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Why Jez still has Farrah to go
FARRAH'S power pop is bubbling once more with Monday's release of their third album, Cut Out And Keep.
Eleven tracks rush by in 36 minutes of bittersweet lyrics, West Coast harmonies and bracing tunes by Jez Ashurst, the singer and songwriter, who may live in London but never leaves behind his York past.
He hopes the new album stands a better chance of making an impact than its predecessor in 2003, Me Too. "Our press people so much let us down on that album that they gave us our money back, " says Jez, looking as slim as ever in the City Screen bar.
"We got let down and it was frustrating, as it sold well in Japan and Spain and was very popular in France, and it was a shame for us in Britain as we really loved the record, but with northern grit we've just ploughed on, as Yorkshire people do.
"I think this new album is our best; we really pushed ourselves by writing 45 songs. If you're on a small label you can make the music you like, whereas Coldplay, Keane are the Ford Focus of music, because they're inoffensive, not particularly exciting or brave. We can take more risks. We pay the price commercially but we're happy to do that. I suppose we're more of a boutique band."
The line-up retains its York roots with Jez and Andrew Campbell, from Badger Hill, who are joined by Mike Hopkins, a member since 2000, and the Australian bass player Michelle Margherita, who joined four years ago.
"She was in a band a bit like us in Sydney called Montana and after Mike Walker left and came back to York, she was getting bored with life in Sydney and wanted to live in London.
"I sent her our record; she said she liked it and could she come and join us. It was one meant to be for just one tour, but she loved it and has stayed ever since. Being female, she adds a different dynamic to the band."
Michelle takes lead vocals for part of the first single off the new album, Fear Of Flying, a song that has been given a memorable promo video at a cost of only £18. "That was the cost of two taxis to borrow some lights, " recalls Jez. "We're huge fans of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer video, and we had a digital stills camera, so although we didn't have any training, we set about shooting a four-minute stopframe animated video.
"It has 10,000 still photographs; it took us six weeks to shoot, and it's all done with one camera shot.
The first day we shot just two seconds, 48 frames, and we realised what we'd let ourselves in for.
"I had to stand in the same position for three weeks, lip-synching all the lyrics. It's one hell of a way to spend your time, and now none of us wants to be Nick Park, but we got it done, and though we'll never, ever do it again, it was worth it.
"When Lol Crème - who made lots of pop videos in the Eighties - saw it, he said, 'What do you mean it cost £18?'."
Should your curiosity be roused, check out YouTube.
Farrah's Cut Out And Keep is released on Monday through Lojinx.