George Harrison said all things must pass. Dylan said it’s all over now baby blue. Bob Marley said stop that train, I’m leaving. International Farmers said upon these million miles of open road, take me far away from my abode… And so we must say farewell to a beloved South Bay band.
The International Farmers are disbanding for the foreseeable future. With the departure of founding member, guitarist and vocalist Daniel Primavera, who’s flying from one paradise to another with a landing strip set on the Hawaiian Islands, we’re left little choice but to wave goodbye with gratitude for the music left behind.
The band –Daniel Primavera, Lara Beers (vocals), Jamie Bullock (Rhodes, Hammond, clavinet, Moog, piano, melodica, etc.), Preston Nelson (drums), Brian Landau (saxophone), Erik “Cabeza” Cardinal (percussion), Jeremy Odom (bass)– began piecing together its distinct brand of Progressive Reggae in 2002, although their origins span two decades.
“Danny and I have been friends for over twenty years, going back to high school in Virginia,” says Odom. “We started the idea of this band together in summer of 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia. We moved to California and gigged as a three-piece for a couple of years, swapping drummers in and out, until we met Preston Nelson – our drummer search was over after that, plain and simple. Along the way we picked up Brian Landau on saxophone, and then met Jamie [Bullock] and Lara [Beers] – who had just moved from Virginia as well, and we had a few mutual friends… A couple of weeks later we were performing at the House of Blues, and the band began to take a life of its own from there. This full version of the band has played together for about seven years.”
Over which amount of time they managed to tour about fifteen states throughout the country, as well as up and down the west coast, alongside bands like John Brown’s Body, The Wailers, Fishbone, Rebelution, Eek-A-Mouse, Fortunate Youth, Josh Fischel, Massive McGregor, Zen Robbi, Tribal Seeds, Juan Nelson (Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals), The B Foundation, Bushman… and the list goes on.
“Some of my best memories come from being out on the road,” says Odom, “dragging a U-Haul trailer from state to state, gig to gig, and your only job is to get to the show on time and play. So few people get the chance to do that – and to have done that with some of my best friends created some pretty special lifetime memories for me.”
A collective appreciation for life, love, and all the people who have helped shape the International Farmers, both individually and musically, is strongly apparent in their song writing – as represented on their 2008 debut LP “Closer Than Close.” Musically, while they draw influence from artists like Steel Pulse, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Operation Ivy, Minor Threat (and so many others), their own sound is their own. It’s not just Reggae. Nor is it in the vein of Reggae meets Punk. It’s like a well-done, crisp and clean Progressive Rock Reggae. Meaning, there’s an identifiable element of fusion and jamming that’s full of transitions, segues, and trip outs.
Odom says, “International Farmers have a unique sound. In our minds, nobody really sounds like us, and that’s one of the things that we’re most proud of.” He describes their music as Progressive Reggae with elements of Jazz, Funk, Rock, and Hip Hop, with Reggae as the root.
Speaking of roots and farmers and such… “The band name comes from an old, rather obscure song by Peter Broggs called ‘International Farmers,’” recalls Odom. “Danny [Primavera] and I were listening to this song at my parents’ house in Atlanta [Gerogia] one night, and I said something like, ‘This would be a cool band name.’ We started drawing up a few logos, and the name just stuck. The name itself has a rather broad meaning, but comes from something very specific. I think in a lot of ways that was very fitting for us – we brought together a pretty broad selection of sounds and styles, and made it something very specific and unique.”
It will be exciting to see what the International Farmers have harvested for their long-awaited sophomore album. Oh, you didn’t think they’d be leaving us behind empty-handed did you? The 14-track LP titled “Stories You Rewind” is scheduled to drop in August.
“We’re all really proud of this upcoming album,” admits Odom. “We spent the extra time and resources to make sure that it sounded right and how we wanted.”
Bullock, who studied jazz piano and composition under Grammy Award Winner Chip McNeil for five years while performing in the Virginia Tech Jazz Orchestra, adds, “We’ve been working on it for practically five years. We are very proud of the work that went into it, and it features various guests: Juan Nelson, long time bass player for Ben Harper… Big Nes, of Big Nes Music and Chapter 11… local trombonist Lance Keller plays throughout the album, as well as Nobody Cares’ Dustin Willis on trumpet.”
Odom continues, “‘Stories You Rewind’ is a fitting title for this album because it’s meant to take the listener back through some memorable experiences, while creating some new stories to rewind in the future. I think it’s a fitting way to sum up this moment for us – being a part of International Farmers has given us all a lot of stories to rewind.”
Taking quite a literal stance, Primavera has said, “The new record is very much to the point – I can’t stop pressing repeat while listening to the early mixes. That’s always a fantastic sign.”
A single from the album, titled “King of Defeat,” which is available on the band’s website, has been in circulation (DirtyHippieRadio.com included) for well over a year. Finally, you can expect to see the full-length album available in places like iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby by sometime in August.
The wistful fun doesn’t stop there. Of course, they intend to go out with a bang and whet our whistles for the new album, leaving us wanting more after they’re done. It’s the International Farmers’ Farewell Show at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA on Friday, June 21 with Irieside and Black Salt Tone.
“This is the final International Farmers show for the foreseeable future,” says Odom. “Danny [Primavera] and his wife Cara are moving to Hawaii; and life, jobs, and family are happening with the rest of us as well.
“I think there is a sense of nostalgia in the band among everyone. We’re all proud of the things we were able to accomplish, and the great times and memories that we had. We’re also excited for what the future brings for all of us – everyone has a lot of good things going on in their lives. The band was an amazing experience for all of us, and you just never know what the future holds…”
As for any future possibilities of further International Farmers incarnations or offshoot bands, Odom says stay tuned…
Say farewell to the International Farmers at Saint Rocke tonight, Thursday, June 21. Show starts at 9 p.m. with opening support from Irieside and Black Salt Tone. Tickets are $10. (Originally written for print in the Easy Reader newspaper by Jeff Vincent.)