Farrow ready, willing the second time around

MATTHEW FARROW has navigated these waters before. Back in the early 2000s, he was the circuit jockey behind Pharaoh Amps, which among other things had a successful run of pedal releases. So much so, that Farrow quit his day job to devote his full attention to his MI business. Pharaoh was a one-man shop in Raleigh that produced stomps like the Class A Boost, Jubilee Silver Overdrive and the Echo Jr. He was 24 years old.

“I got to the point where I could not keep up with the orders coming in,” recalls Farrow. “It happens to a lot of one-man pedal shops. I wasn’t real great at managing cash flow and I was basically at the point where I needed to hire somebody to keep building and getting stuff out and I was too afraid to do that. I didn’t want to be somebody’s boss. I didn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s rent. Then we got pregnant, I got a regular job and went back to school.”

Flash forward seven years and Farrow found himself playing bass in a thrash metal band with his sole foot-level accompaniment being a Line 6 M9. He was bent on teaching himself the intro to Metallica’s ‘Battery’. There are guitar harmonies over that, so Farrow planned to use the M9 looper for those.

“So I had this loop of the intro of ‘Battery’ stored,” says Farrow. “I go to band practice and play it and I look like an idiot. I have to turn the pitch shifter on and all this. What I really needed was a way to control the looper while in effects mode. So I’m reading the manual and there are all of these midi commands in there. I thought midi is not that hard. I can do midi… and my day job was designing imbedded systems. So I put together a little board and, alright, send a program change. I wrote a state machine to manage the looper states and I put it in a box with six footswitches and six LEDs. The same spacing as the M9.”

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