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CSULB freshman looks to strike musically with The Bolts

Cal State Long Beach music major Addam Farmer's dance rock band The Bolts has received airplay on KROQ's

The Bolts

Cal State Long Beach music major Addam Farmer's dance rock band The Bolts has received airplay on KROQ's "Locals Only."

Adam Pringle

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By day, Cal State Long Beach freshman Addam Farmer is a music major who studies vocal performance and sings classically. But once the school day is over, Farmer straps on his bass and takes his place as singer/bassist for The Bolts, who specialize in playing dance rock gaudy and stylish enough to make 1981 proud even though most of the band members (including Farmer’s two brothers, singer/guitarist Heath and keyboardist Austin) are still in high school.

However, the band is more than just a two-gig-a-month hobby for Farmer: Not only have The Bolts landed gigs at the Troubadour and the Knitting Factory in Hollywood since forming in late August, but their song “Like a Fantasy” has received radio airplay on KROQ’s “Locals Only.”

Farmer describes his band’s sound as a cross between The Killers and Muse, with a dash of The Beach Boys thrown in.

“We’ve been studying the way [The Beach Boys] put together harmonies because that’s a sound we find really interesting and harmonically beautiful, so we’re trying to bring that in,” Farmer said.

The Irvine native began playing the bass in the seventh grade, when he became the bassist for a worship band at his church even though he had his heart set on playing guitar riffs.

“I auditioned for guitar for the middle school band, and they had nobody audition for bass,” he recalled. “The worship leader asked, ‘Do any of you own a bass?’ and I was the only one who owned a bass, so he said, ‘All right, you’re going to be playing bass,’ and I was just like, ‘What?’ But it has actually opened up many opportunities for me. There aren’t many bass players out there, so I have been able to do a lot of things, whereas everyone plays guitar.”

Farmer became particularly driven to play in bands after listening to the post-hardcore band Thrice, a nationally renowned act that also came from Irvine.

“[Thrice singer/guitarist] Dustin Kensrue is the main reason why I kept going in bands,” he said. “The fact that a band came out of Irvine and became famous inspired me. I wanted to be like him.”

During his high school years, Farmer played in a number of bands, including The Jakes, which got one of their songs played on “Locals Only.” After the lead singer of The Jakes went away to Stanford, Farmer and his brothers decided to start their own band, which became The Bolts.

Over the last few months, The Bolts have been making a name for themselves by playing steady gigs at places such as Disneyland, where Farmer has played since his days with The Jakes even though the House of Mouse isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind when it comes to Orange County spots that feature up-and-coming bands.

“That never really happened in [The Jakes], where people went, ‘Oh, they’re not cool anymore because they play at Disneyland,'” Farmer said. “I’m sure there are people who saying that behind our backs, but if anything it’s opening up more opportunities for more things because when you go up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’ve played for Disneyland,’ they automatically take you seriously as a band.”

With “Like a Fantasy” getting airplay, the guys plan to record their debut EP over the winter break so they can sell it at their shows before the end of January. Although they are currently unsigned, they aim to build a following before they take the plunge into sending demos to record labels.

“What we’re doing right now is focusing on trying to get a fan base together and just go out and play and just try to build up what we can do on our own,” Farmer said. “Time will tell if we’re able to get label financial support, but we’re trying to get ourselves propped up in that position.”

One of the ways The Bolts seek to cultivate a fan base is through merchandise such as T-shirts, which they sell at their shows.

“We’re also planning on getting stickers so people can slap them on their binders or cars or other peoples’ cars,” Farmer said.

Even though Farmer said he devotes all of his spare time “besides sleeping and eating” to the band, he is considering working in either the producing or recording fields of music if The Bolts don’t take the rock world by storm.

“It’s good to have a safety net even though safety in music isn’t necessarily a safe thing,” he said.

Ultimately, Farmer isn’t looking to give the Killers front man Brandon Flowers a run for his money in the dance rock superstardom sweepstakes. Instead, he’s in it simply for the love of the game.

“That’s the main reason why we do all this,” Farmer said. “We love being able to create all these things. We’re just going to go out and have fun, promote and play.”

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