The Black Hollies Jon Gonnelli Talks Farfisa Rock

The music: The Black Hollies are a rock ’n’ roll band comprised of equal parts pop, psychedelia, freak-beat, garage, and soul. Our music is best experienced live. Keys on the new album Softly Towards The Light: A Hammond B-3 with a Leslie 122 cabinet, a late ’60s U.K. model Vox Continental with wooden keys, a late ’60s Farfisa Compact, a Wurlitzer 200A, a broken Mellotron, and a Betsy Ross Spinet upright piano which was damaged in a flood.
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The music: The Black Hollies are a rock ’n’ roll band comprised of equal parts pop, psychedelia, freak-beat, garage, and soul. Our music is best experienced live.
Keys on the new album Softly Towards The Light: A Hammond B-3 with a Leslie 122 cabinet, a late ’60s U.K. model Vox Continental with wooden keys, a late ’60s Farfisa Compact, a Wurlitzer 200A, a broken Mellotron, and a Betsy Ross Spinet upright piano which was damaged in a flood.
Live rig: For live performances I alternate between the Vox and the Farfisa. I run the organs through a Vox AC30 guitar amplifier. I’ve found that the Farfisa is more durable for the road whereas the Vox Continental is very sensitive with regard to being battered upon live.
How to find musical space for the keyboard in a loud rock band: In the Black Hollies, the organ’s musical place is that of a rhythmic impressionist, the purpose of which is to add textures and colorings that guitars and drums are not capable of. Less is always more. It is important to know when and where to lay back in order to let other things stand out.
Favorite keyboard instrument ever: Hammond B-3 with Leslie cabinet.
The Farfisa: The thing that appeals to me most about the Farfisa Compact is the way the bass notes react through a guitar amp — the warm, full, and nasty bottom end. There’s also something about the tone of the Farfisa that blends so well with guitar and bass in the “freak outs” that the Black Hollies rely on to open songs up a bit.
Words of wisdom: I’ve learned that success in a rock band has a lot to do with your attitude and perceptions. Try to be a positive influence on those around you. Musically, if something sounds good to you, then it is good. Be a good listener and always be open to learning new things. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with something that doesn’t come easily with the intention of making the finished work better because of it. Making music is supposed to be cathartic, celebratory, and fun, so try not to take yourself too seriously along the way.

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