Friday, June 12, 2020

Keeping the beat with Coriky's Amy Farina / Feature story

Amy Farina drums with The Evens in Seattle in 2013. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy 

Amy Farina vividly remembers the day when she first fixated her 12-year-old eyes on the drum kit sitting in her dad's garage. It was like a parting of the seas, she said, and the youngster eagerly ventured inside.

"It was like, 'Wow, I wanna do that,' so I started banging away," said Farina, whose pop bought the kit, an amp and PA for her older brother, Geoff, a bassist. Dad saw playing music as a constructive activity, which his children firmly embraced at the outset and they continue performing in the music realm to this day.

Today, Coriky -- which features Amy (drums, vocals), her husband Ian MacKaye (guitar, vocals) and Joe Lally (bass, vocals) -- unleashed its self-titled debut on Dischord Records. Two songs, "Clean Kill" and "Too Many Husbands," were released digitally in February and May, respectively, to spread the word on the album, which is best described as a Fugazi/Evens amalgamation but with arms stretching all across the post-punk and indie landscapes.

Coriky began playing in earnest five years ago and recorded the album 1 1/2 years ago, so Farina said the songs feel distant to her. With the two full-album precursor songs fresh in people's minds, Farina hopes the total package resonates with fans when they fire it up on their turntables. The album's release was delayed from March 27 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and closing of independent record shops. 

"I hope it brings something to somebody somewhere, (that) would be really amazing," she said. "I feel just lucky to have been able to make some music. I guess it's all pretty surreal. I think when I was younger and I was in bands, everything was so immediate -- you know, you write a song and you play it for your friends or you play a house party. The energy was instant, and it's not that way now. For us, it's really, we do a lot of toiling by ourselves and it's hard to know if it's even music, it's hard to know what it sounds like or what effect it has."

With the few shows the band has played over the past two years, Coriky has received copious positive feedback. They hoped to tour this summer, but those plans were canceled due to the pandemic. Farina said it's a gift to be able to play with MacKaye and Lally and she looks forward to getting the trio back in action soon.

On the gigs they have played, Farina said: "People, they come out and they're enthusiastic and it feels like we're connecting with people. The close friends who have heard the record have all had nice things to say, so it's been good. It's still a little abstract to me ... There's so much other life that goes on that it's pretty trivial, the record."


Farina said that music and art are essential parts of her being, and she moved from the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, when she was 18 to study fine art at the Corcoran School of Art -- which is now part of The George Washington University -- and play music.

"I feel art and music -- like so many other people, you included, I'm sure -- those things really, they saved my life and they really define life for me," said Farina, who teaches music and art enrichment at some DC schools.

Cat Rose photo

A few days after her arrival in DC for college, Farina started the band Mister Candy Eater with a pair of Dischord employees, and later played with Lois Maffeo, The Warmers, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and then The Evens with MacKaye, who appreciated her drumming and provided encouragement.

Ever since her foray into drumming, Farina played what she felt was interesting to her and that's remained consistent throughout her career.

"Over the years, I've done a lot of studying. I practice and I study because drums are really like my meditation. I could spend all day just trying to learn. I tend to come at things kind of backward or sideways or whatever," she said.

Farina first grew up on a steady diet of The Beatles and classic rock and also soaked up her mom's jazz records and other eclectic sounds wafting throughout her home. Later, Geoff turned her on to punk rock at age 12 or 13 and she began blasting the sounds of Minor Threat, 7 Seconds and more of the fast-'n-hard stuff. (She later attended a ton of punk shows in Harrisburg, DC and Philadelphia.) 

She was also a huge Minutemen fan around that time, adding that "I always thought George Hurley was the coolest drummer." Not one to get stuck in a box, she was also fueled by the hammering drumbeats of John Bonham and myriad rockers along with jazz and other styles. 

"Mostly I just listened to music and really wanted to be in a band and played drums by myself in the garage," said Farina, who played orchestral percussion in the community symphony and learned how to read music as a pianist before she picked up the sticks.

Nowadays, Farina feels in a comfortable zone playing alongside MacKaye and Lally in the Coriky camp. While she does like singing -- which she did in The Evens as well -- it's the drumming that really drives her musical journey.

It's an extended family affair with Coriky as Farina and MacKaye's 12-year-old son Carmine does his part to make things happen. The youngster enjoys the tours and gigs and considers himself part of the band, Farina said.

"He loves music, he's a great listener. He's like really tuned in, he loves all kinds of music, he always has," Farina said. "He has a lot to offer in terms of his impression of things, and he often will say, 'Yeah, that's not like your best song' or 'I really like this part.'"

Coriky songs are out in the world today for all listeners to weigh in on.

Coriky art

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