The Backstabbers host farewell show at Audie's

The Fresno BeeMay 7, 2014 

The Backstabbers, a local retro-punk band, play their final Fresno show Friday night.


Jessie Farnsworth met Kevin Thomason in cliché rock-band fashion — he put up an ad for a bass player.

Thomason replied.

"Which was odd because no one ever replied to my ads," says Farnsworth, who started the retro-rock band The Backstabbers after meeting Thomason in 2009.

The band plays its final show Friday night at Audie's Olympic Tavern with The Hangmen from Los Angeles.

Farnsworth and Thomason bonded over their love of obscure primitive rock-and-roll, bands like The New York Dolls and MC5, The Hellacopters, Stooges and Ramones. They even took on the rock-star monikers Jes Reckless and Kevin Empty.

The Backstabbers — which includes Wade Krause on drums — plays fierce proto-punk that is as loud as it is fast and sans any fancy embellishments.

"We're just trying to bring back the good old days," says Farnsworth, whose move to New York City means the band will go on hiatus.

This is not the end of The Backstabbers, he says: "I don't want to end it. I never want to say never."

The band has recorded several songs for a sophomore album, a follow up to the "Full Blast" EP, which was released in 2012. Farnsworth and Thomason also recently teamed up with Ted Neeley (of "Jesus Christ Superstar" fame) to record parts for his upcoming EP.

Farnsworth will still be busy with music. He plays with the band Newsted, a metal band from former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted that released its debut album last year. That band includes Fresno native Jesus Mendez on drums and Mike Mushok (of Staind) on guitar.

Farnsworth isn't exactly a metal guy, and he certainly is not a shredder like Mushok, but he shares with Newsted an affinity for early Judas Priest and Iron Maiden records and does his best impression of Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke.

"I can fake it pretty good if I have to," Farnsworth says.

Mostly, being in a major metal band and playing arenas around the world was the kind of opportunity one can't pass up. "I played Donington (Park, in London)," Farnsworth says. "I have a video of AC/DC playing Donington."

And yet, it's in The Backstabbers where he gets to play the kind of music closest to his heart.

"That would be the band I would start if I started a new band," he says.

Show information

The Backstabbers with The Hangmen and Third Rail Power Trip, 8:30 p.m. Friday at Audie's Olympic Tavern, 1426 N. Van Ness. Tickets are $10-$12. Details: (559) 233-3733

This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, or @jtehee on Twitter and Instagram. Read his blog at

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