Fair to Midland has been turning heads since they first formed and amassing a loyal fanbase in the process. One head they turned was that of Serj Tankian of System of a Down who saw them as a perfect fit for his Serjical Strike Records. We spoke with Darroh via email a while back to find out more about the band and their new album, in stores this month.
antiMusic: Fair to Midland is a bit of an unusual name, where did it come from?
Darroh Sudderth: It’s just an old saying originally used to grade cotton. It’s a synonym for average and/or mediocre. I’ve always used a lot of old clichés, so it also kind of pokes fun at my lyrical tendencies. It was one of the only names we all came to agree on as well.
antiMusic: How did the band get together?
Darroh: It started with our guitarist Clifford and myself, and the current lineup was later solidified with; Jon Dicken (bass), Brett Stowers (drums), and Matthew Langley (keyboards). It was really out of necessity more than anything. We are all from small towns within a 30 mile radius of one another and were among the only musicians within the area.
antiMusic: You have a CD coming out on Serjical Strike Records, how did you hook up with Serj?
Darroh: Well, during one of our independently funded tours of the west coast we became good friends with Mike Haitayan, who just so happened to be an acquaintance of Serj’s. Mike coaxed Serj into coming out to a couple of shows; and it was at our second show in Malibu that Serj was kind enough to offer his help. We’ve been extremely fortunate and have nothing but good things to say about Mike, Serj, and Serjical Strike.
antiMusic: Indie fans know and love from your previous releases, can your established fans expect the same musically or are they in for something different?
Darroh: It seems like each of our songs differs so much from one song to the next already. There are definitely a few songs on this album that will throw some of our long time friends for a loop.
antiMusic: With that in mind you’ve had some pretty diverse comparisons from Mars Volta to Pink Floyd and Pantera, how would you describe your music to someone that hasn’t heard it?
Darroh: Well, I’m not the best salesman and even worse at knowing how to describe our sound. I’ve been told it’s very eclectic and progressive. Given that’s the most common ‘genre’ we’re thrown in, I’d be inclined to say it’s probably as accurate as one can get.
antiMusic: Inside Track. Here is where we ask you to give us some insight into each track on your new CD. Whether it is the inspiration behind the song, or a story that goes along with it (recording or live experience etc).
Darroh: Well, it’s hard to pinpoint the inspiration behind each individual track, and it’s still a toss-up as to which songs will make the cut. But I can mention a few that I’m confident will make the cut and try and give the general vibe on each:
‘april fools and eggmen’- probably the most up-tempo track and very guitar and piano driven. One thing I love about this track is it has somewhat of a spaghetti-western vibe to it, somewhat akin to something Tarantino might find good use for.
‘say when’ - this was one of the first songs solely written by our keyboardist(Matt Langley) and is very space-rock-esque. I hear a lot of Janes Addiction, Radiohead, and Muse on this track.
‘tall tales taste like sour grapes’ - I think this track has turned into a favorite for a lot of the guys. It’s got the 6/8 tempo giving it kind of a sway like a waltz. It’s very guitar driven and definitely one of the heavier tracks on the album. It’s also the only track on the album featuring the fiddle. Every time I hear this one, it reminds me of a sea-chanty.
‘the wife, the kids, and the white picket fence’ - I was really surprised with how this one turned out. It’s probably the prettiest song we have and is very soary. This was also the first song I had written for this full-length album.
antiMusic: Favorite tracks from the CD?
Darroh: I’d probably have to say ‘the wife, the kids, and the white picket fence’ and ‘april fools and eggmen.’
antiMusic: What was it like working with David Bottrill?
Darroh: He’s a great and sincerely good-hearted person. He’s been extremely patient with us and done a better than good job in helping us try to make the best record we possibly can! But if anyone ever tells you it’s easier working with a producer, they’re probably lying. It’s just like adding a new member to the group. So as a result, there’s an extra person there to tell you what they do and don’t like. I can’t complain though, it has made for a better album.
antiMusic: What’s next for Fair to Midland?
Darroh: Well, we’ve got the full-length slated for a release in April ‘07. After that, your guess is as good as mine.
The CD hits stores on Jun 12, 2007, so mark your calendars! Our European friends can catch them early this month including a performance at Download. They head back home for their official CD release show on June 12th in Dallas and will hit the road with 69 Eyes, Wednesday 13, Night Kills The Day for a summer tour. See their official site link below for dates.