BOSTON COLLEGE HEIGHTS

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Texas' finest 'Fair' travels to Boston
By: Frank Gatto
Issue date: 2/15/07 Section: The Scene

Dallas, Texas may not be the epicenter of the musical universe, but it does appear to be the origin of the future of rock 'n' roll. This, my friends, is no hyperbole: It's reality. Straight out of the land of cowboys, big hair, 10-gallon hats, and chicken-fried steak is Fair to Midland, a band composed of brains, melody, and pure energy.

More specifically, FTM is a five-piece rock unit. Covering vocals is madman Darroh Sudderth, who scurries across the stage and dives from impossible heights without even flinching. Keyboardist Matt Langley delivers the mood, playing off the wily riffs of guitarist Cliff Campbell. Keeping the insanity in sync is drummer and all-around swell guy Brett Stowers. Finally, where some bassists almost become an accessory to the music, bass guitarist Jon Dicken transcends his low-end duties and ties up any loose ends left by his crafty bandmates.

At this point, you may be wondering what this could possibly sound like. To compare FTM to any other band would be a bit of a disservice, but for argument's sake, imagine throwing the Deftones, Dredg, Glassjaw, and Pink Floyd into a giant steel blender, straining the contents, and pouring the mix into your finest cocktail glass. The resulting concoction is brilliant, fine, and refreshing on all of the body's senses.

The story of FTM is every garage band's fairy tale. Five years ago, the group released The Carbon Copy Silver Lining, but its real attention-getter dropped in 2003 in the form of inter.funda.stifle. This album was a prog-rock opus that sprawled across the spectrum of sound in juxtaposed fits of destruction and beauty. And luckily, the band's live show was nothing short of biblical, which eventually captured the ears and eyes of System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian. After a period of courtship and weighing their options, the Texans signed the dotted line with Tankian's own label, Serjical Strike Records, in 2006.

The present and future look even brighter for FTM. Currently, the band is on the second leg of its tour opening for Japanese megastars Dir En Grey. FTM will follow up with spots on both Coachella and SXSW, a tour with fellow Texan natives Flyleaf, and finally an outing in Europe - all in anticipation of its forthcoming major debut, Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True.

Obviously this is a whole lot of success for a very young band, and with much success comes much pressure. "There is most definitely a huge amount of pressure on us now. There's just the fear of how or if you'll be received. I'm sure the majority of the pressure I feel is self-inflicted, but it's pressure, nonetheless. This isn't an industry prone to give second chances," said Sudderth.

It seems that most of the pressure Sudderth experiences hinges on the success of FTM's upcoming full-length; "Selling records is the hard part. We've done all we can do as far as making the best possible album we can make for the time being, but we're not the one's buying the album. All we can do is hope and pray this album will get the push and attention it deserves," he said.

The unknown outlook for FTM has only sharpened the band's ability to deliver a top-notch concert. "Most people aren't quite sure what to make of us the first time they see us. It usually takes seeing us at least twice before they're able to make up their minds as to whether they like us or not, or so it would seem," said Sudderth.

Yet last Wednesday, the band rocked the Avalon and jolted the crowd into a heated frenzy of flesh and motion. FTM took its sound to unforeseen heights, debuting new material such as "Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes" as well as "April Fools or Eggmen," in addition to their classics, such as "Dance of the Manatee." Clearly, the Boston crowd had no trouble getting the message.

FTM's upcoming album drops in June. Check out www.myspace.com/fairtomidland for weekly samples of new material.