Heavily influenced by the quintessential American power pop acts Fountains Of Wayne and Jellyfish, York, England’s 1998-formed Farrah originally comprised former video shoot runner Jez Ashurst (b. York, North Yorkshire, England; guitar/keyboards/vocals) his school friend Mike Walker (b. Michael Ian Walker, York, North Yorkshire, England; bass/vocals) and Tom Marsh (b. York, North Yorkshire, England; drums/percussion). Intelligent guitar-based English acts such as Squeeze and Supergrass also provided inspiration to this exuberant outfit for their unashamedly catchy, hook-filled material. Andrew Campbell (b. Uppsala, Uppsala Ian, Sweden; guitar/keyboards/vocals) joined a year later, in time for the release of their debut single, ‘Terry’. This caused a minor furore when confectioners Terry’s Of York objected to their chocolate being featured on the artwork.
When 80s pop sensation T’Pau re-formed in promotion of their Red album in 1998, Ashurst was part of their live set-up and would remain so for many years, alongside his frontman role in Farrah. Marsh was replaced in 2000 by Max Fidani prior to the recording of Farrah’s debut, Moustache, with T’Pau’s Ron Rogers. While the tapes impressed Warner Chappell enough to offer the band a worldwide publishing deal, they were also signed to Miles Copeland’s Ark 21 Records. Fidani’s tenure with the band was short-lived and he was soon replaced by Mike Hopkins (b. England) when the band relocated to London. A further line-up change came in the form of occasional Montana member Michelle Margherita (b. Cooma, New South Wales, Australia; bass/vocals) when new father Walker moved back to York in 2001.
While 2004’s Me Too displayed a harder rocking edge and 2007 brought the eclectic, slickly produced follow-up Cut Out & Keep, the band failed to break into the mainstream and Hopkins soon departed. Between these releases, Ashurst had carved out a career in composition, writing material for ex-Blue pin-up Duncan James and Japanese superstar Kaela Kimura among others.