“My friend, get on your horse. Where are we going? It does not matter, as long as we go far. Far away from the urban noise and the daily grind. Let’s see where the winds take us.” And off they went into the sunset, while The Far Sound‘s debut album played softly in the background, guiding the two adventurers on their journey without end.
Armed with his banjo and pedal steel Rick Pedrosa is the man in Portland you go to when you want that typical warm Western slow paced sound. You might have heard him with Abronia, or else with Federale, but he also does his own thing from time to time, and we as listeners should rejoice that he does.
This self-titled debut feels a bit similar to Can‘s Soundtracks compilation in that it never becomes quite clear what came first; the images or the music. Inevitably though the images will come to you, beckoned by the sleepy sounds of the pedal steel and the rippling coziness of the banjo. Pedrosa starts all his compositions with one of those instruments, and then colors the images with percussion and whatever else is necessary for the right feel and form.
Like a painter that creates studies on light and darkness, Pedrosa creates his own studies on captivation and sound depth. We as listener get to watch over his shoulder as he summons wide vistas and endless horseback journeys. It is a magnificent thing to behold.
Hi Rick! How are you doing? How was the pandemic experience for you?
Well currently I’m doing pretty good. Playing a lot of music with a lot of different people which is always fun. Always meeting new people and such. The pandemic was quite the time. At first seemed like a good break. Abronia still met every week. Virtually at first, then slowly in person. That helped keep my sanity which started to deteriorate after a while. Also gave me to time to dive into my own stuff. That’s when I started recording this release. Man what a joy when shows starting happening again!
Can you introduce yourself and your musical outlets?
Well my name is Enrique Pedrosa but I go by Rick. I am originally from Maryland but lived in Portland for the past 13 years. I started play music when I was 5. I went from piano to sax then to guitar at 12 and have stuck with stringed instruments. Studied guitar with a teacher then studied jazz in community college but dropped out. Played in guitar in some bands but got a pedal steel when I was 21 and just really focused on that. After some years I started play steel in bands and have played in many bands since then in many different styles.
What is your musical background?
Kinda answered this in the last question. Still play some guitar in bands really steel is my main deal. Have played in everything from country to free improv. I just like playing and I’m always down to play with friends and other nice people no matter the genre.
What does an average day in your life look like?
Right now I have my own small business. I have a custom woodworking shop. I make a lot of furniture and home wares but occasionally get to make some guitars or cabs. I’m usually there during the day either working/dealing with small business stress but it gives me the freedom to take off kinda whenever for music stuff which was half the reason for trying to work for my self.
What is the best thing about The Far Sound?
I don’t really know the best thing is about this project. To me it was pretty freeing to do everything myself and rely on my own influences to make something. I’m usually playing in bands or learning songs to sit in with someone, so it was cool just to layer sounds that I hearing. A nice change of pace for me.
What is the biggest difference between TFS and your other bands?
Creatively, TFS is solely just me. I play all the instruments, recorded, and mixed it. My other projects are a mix of democratic Creative process that take time and playing/writing parts while recording. I like all the ways to create and feel they all help make me a better musician. This project is nice because I can take my time or not. Just do things when I feel it.
Who are some of your contemporary heroes?
I mean there’s been so many bands and artists I’ve shared bills with that really have inspired me over the years. As far as heros or people who look to as kinda musical role models 2 people come to mind. 1st is Greg Leisz. He is a LA session pedal steel player and has played with everybody. I like his attitude towards music and his openess to playing any kind of music. Not only that he’s a great player with an interesting approach. He also is a humble guy and seems to move through his career with immense gratitude. 2nd I think is Danny Barnes. He’s an amazing banjo player and artist. Again I’d admire his openess to playing music and just doing his thing and making work by working hard. Also just seems like he has a good head on him. I don’t listen to everything they play on but the stuff I like, I really like, and try to keep that same attitude of openess.
How do you compose and record songs?
So I’d say most of these songs started on the banjo. The ones without banjo started on the steel. Usually starts with a couple lines, then I create a structure with other parts. After that comes percussion, bass, guitar. Then organ and steel is usually last. There’s just a lot of trying stuff out. See what gives me a good feeling. There’s some improv in then soloing and a lot in “Midnight Prarie Rust”. That started out with all percussion and Bass. Everything else is improv. There comes a point where I know it’s done. Nothing else will add to the overall vibe and vision.
What are your immediate future plans?
Well my immediate plans are finally releasing this tape then getting ready for the Abronia and Federale shows coming up. Abronia has a tour coming up in July. I’m also sitting in with handful of people playing steel around town and a Euro tour in November with a group but it hasn’t been announced yet.
What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?
I’d say take take a deep breath and relax if only for a minute.