Every once in awhile a local band comes along and you can’t help but think, “Wow, they really have what it takes.” The Farthest Edge is the newest band to join the ranks of the Billings greats, acts like Grudge, Spurge, The Forestry, Krunk, and Reid Perry and The Montana Avenue band, and many others.
The Farthest Edge is a veritable Billings hard rock super-band that came together almost by accident. Guitarist Rich Candelaria, of Grudge fame (and now engineer at Hi Def Studios,) had some guitar riffs that he was developing in his spare time, some of which he had been working on since his Grudge days.
“He had some guitar tracks and some programmed drums. As far as demo tracks go, they were all pretty much solid finished products. He approached me with the instrumentals asking if I would write some stuff to them,” said lead singer Patrick Lee Michaelis, who had just gotten back from ten years in New York. Michaelis did not have any serious music endeavors at the time, outside of a cover band he would occasionally play in with a few of his buddies.
The original intent was to make a few simple tracks here and there and possibly put them on iTunes. “Neither of us had any interest in playing a bunch live or coming together as a full band,” said Michaelis.
Yet fortuitously, when Michaelis came to the studio with his finalized lyrics and melody lines, things went a little too well to be just a part-time side project. Both Michaelis and Candelaria decided to take it a step further and find a drummer.
Candelaria knew that local teenage drum savant Zack Goggins was not in a band. Candelaria had seen what Goggins could do during sessions at Hi Def Studio and asked him to lay down some drum tracks.
Despite still being in high school, Goggins is, according to Michaelis, “bar none one of the best drummers I have ever played with.”
Candelaria then got Matt Gilg, formerly of These Final Days, to play guitar and Michaelis brought on bassist John Keebler, who played with him in his band The Return. All of a sudden they had a full band and were deep into writing their first full-length album and preparing for live shows.
The Farthest Edge describes themselves as straightforward hard rock.
“It’s alive and well in LA but seems to be a little dead here,” said Gilg. “There is a large gap between the indy acoustic stuff and metal in Montana. Hopefully, we can fill in some of those gaps just being hard rock.”
Michaelis added, “I think we are pretty honest and identifiable, and not too cliched or trendy.”
Along with a professional sound, The Farthest Edge has a professional look including a brilliant logo and engaging promo photos.
“A band is a brand and you really have to take it seriously,” he said. “The way we present ourselves visually is a high priority.”
One huge asset The Farthest Edge had in that pursuit was local photographer Tez Mercer. The Farthest Edge was one of the last band shoots Mercer did in Billings before leaving the state.
It’s been nothing short of breakneck speed for The Farthest Edge No sooner did they have their first full-length album recorded and ready to be mastered than they were doing their first show, then they were opening for national act Pop Evil. Shortly after that they found themselves at the world famous Whiskey A Go Go.
“It was crazy; there is a ton of history and photos of legends everywhere but it’s real inviting. It’s just a rock bar, you know. We rocked our absolute hardest. We were twice the band we were at our first gig and that was only our third gig,” said Michaelis. “It was funny: One of the things the sound guy, who worked with huge acts on a daily basis and a ton of LA bands constantly, says to us is he knew we weren’t an LA band. We asked why and he said, ‘Cause you’re not so jaded.’ Simple stuff, like I asked a guy if we could take beer up to the green room. He was floored; he didn’t know how to answer because people just take whatever they want up there. They got a kick out of it.”
While in LA, they did a few more showcases, and they met with industry luminaries like Kevin Black (former executive of Interscope and Warner Brothers) and Bruce Sterling (AEI Entertainment Development), whom they met through their manager, Jaynie Jackson.
You can buy The Farthest Edge’s four-song EP (including a Big J fan song) on iTunes or Google Play or on Spotify.