The State Of Music: Part 32: South Carolina: Run Dan Run

It's been so long since I was put on to South Carolina's Run Dan Run I cannot even remember who put me on to them. I know for sure that I didn't find them through my own steam, which is often becoming the case as I run headlong towards the end of The State Of Music project. Indie rock with hints of Broken Social Scene (especially on track 2 'Lovesick Animal'), Run Dan Run come across as a well accomplished band who not only know how to knock out a decent tune, but also how to turn those tunes into an album that "works". Listening to "Normal" just feels right.

So as usual, enjoy the album below, and buy it if you feel the urge, then read my interview with the band below.

CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who are Run Dan Run and where in the world would we find you?

Run Dan Run is Dan McCurry, Ash Hopkins, & Nick Jenkins. Physically we can all be found across the Eastern Coast, Nick in New York, Ash in North Carolina, & myself here in South Carolina.

CMM: How long has the band been in existence and how did it all start?

RDR first came to be in 2006. We had met one another in college, be it through classes or the music scene, and came together one at a time through that year to form Run Dan Run. I had been writing songs since middle school and had a handful of new tunes I wanted to record, so over spring break I called up Nick and we did a little recording together on what would be our first EP titled "Safety." It wasn't polished by any means but it showed some potential. I called in Ash to do some mastering on it and he seemed pretty excited about the material. After a few months the 3 of us played our first show together at The Map Room (RIP) and the rest, as they say, was history.

CMM How would you best describe the state of South Carolina?

Well, it's probably not quite as bad as the media might make it out to be but it is indeed rather conservative and traditional. There are quite a lot of pine trees as well. It has a few gems for sure such as downtown Charleston where I live. It's a beautiful, beautiful city and has such a nice feel to it, not too big, not too small. It's a very liveable place. I think most people after visiting Charleston would entertain the idea of moving here. It's fairly ideal.

CMM: How best would you describe your music?

We once got "dream pop" in a review. I liked that pretty well. I mostly just consider it to be straight indie rock though as I just can't keep up with all these sub categories/genres. But there are a few key elements to it; solid lyrics, atmospheric guitars, dreamy voice, & killer drum grooves (courtesy of Nick Jenkins). And just a lot of little things, especially with our new album "Normal."

CMM: What is the music scene like in South Carolina right now? What is the genre of choice out there at the moment?

Well, I will tell you that indie rock is certainly not the 'it' genre in SC at the moment and probably never will be (though there are some notable figures from SC like Toro y Moi, Washed Out, Band of Horses, Slow Runner, etc. to name a few). I imagine it varies a great deal across the state depending on if you're in a city, the suburbs or the country. I remember growing up in the suburbs it seemed like hardcore music was particular popular amongst angst-ridden teens. Then I moved into the city and I never heard any more of that. In downtown Charleston there is a fair amount of cover bands and generic funky stuff. It also seems like folk/alt-country is fairly popular in town. But honestly, I really don't know. I don't go out. I just see these things on facebook.

CMM: One thing I am hoping to find in this series is some kind of link between where a band is based and their music. Do you feel as an artist you are influenced by your surroundings and the scene around you?

I am sure that plays a part in it somewhere. I have lived in Charleston since I was 4 so this is home for me. If I grew up in some other town I think I'd be a different person influenced by different customs and norms, etc. To say that I ever directly write about this city, no, never. I tend to avoid writing about specific locations or people in songs as I am always trying to leave some room for a listener to insert himself/herself into the song/experience. As far as the scene goes, I'd say it has had an impact in the day-to-day operations department directly and perhaps that works its way into your being which will then work its way into your art.

I'd say being an indie rock item in a city where indie rock isn't carrying the hot ticket is tough and molds you in ways that other more indie rock oriented cities might not. It makes you have to really think more about what you're doing every step of the way, what you really mean to say. You have to deal with a form of isolation that can be both affirming and destructive. Naturally, you can say this about anything (you can say anything about anything really). I believe location certainly influences the art as much as the art influences the location (though in the age of the interweb this relationship can be both magnified and nullified).

CMM: What other influences does the band have, musical or otherwise?

We generally all like a lot of the same stuff but then also have our pockets of interest. Everyone in RDR camp likes Blonde Redhead, Radiohead, Broken Social Scene, Andrew Bird, Bjork, The Postal Service, and I'm sure some others that I have failed to mention. Ash is pretty well versed in the Beatles (more than most human beings). Nick is into some electronic music that the rest of us don't keep up with. Nick is probably the most well-listened of the group. It always amazes me how much he can listen to music and listen to new music and then find some more new music and still listen to that. Ash & I both get a little jaded in that department I believe. I know Nick has really been digging Com Truise and Little Dragon lately. Personally I am into Beach House a lot as of late. I am eternally Kevin Drew's (of Broken Social Scene). I also can never get over The Notwist, Benjamin Gibbard (older stuff, don't care for the new material), David Bazan, & Laura Veirs. I am chiefly into lyrics. I also spend a lot of time listening to sounds these days as in HOW an instrument sounds in the mix, the quality and character of the sound.

CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the music you have released so far?

Officially; Basic Mechanics (2007), 27 Coming St (2009), Normal (2011)

CMM: Are you able to get out an play live much? Where are your favourite places to play both in and out of state?

Around town currently would be The Village Tavern and The Tin Roof. David Warren at The Village Tavern is great to work with. Also, their sound guy Harrison Ray is on top of his game. They recently redid the space and it looks and feels great. They also make a mean burger. On the other side of town, The Tin Roof keeps it real and dirty. They are the perfect little dive bar and make some excellent dogs. We used to have more excellent smaller rock clubs like The Map Room and Cumberland's that we loved but unfortunately those closed some time ago. It seems there has been some turnover in the club scene in recent years.

Unfortunately we don't get to play much live as a full band due to all the members living in different states. Right now we're running a press and radio campaign with Team Clermont to get the word out both locally and nationally. We hope that perhaps some opportunities will come down the pipeline after these campaigns. We have certainly toured a bit in the past from Massachusetts to Mississippi. It's hard to pick a favorite place really be it state or venue (besides locally). For me, and I think for us, touring is more about the entire experience. It is hard to separate one from another when you're on the road for 2-3 weeks.

CMM: What's next in the pipeline for Run Dan Run?

Who knows? I know that we plan to release some exclusive tracks on our label Hearts & Plugs in the new year as a sampler alongside label mates Ashley Hopkins and Mr. Jenkins. We also plan to release the instrumental versions of Normal at some point in 2012. The music minus lyrics came together so well that I'd be nice to put that out there. I believe we'll also begin recording the next album in 2012. That's all I can say for sure. There's very very little certainty in this line of work.

CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?

On-line we can be found at rundanrunband.com, twitter.com/rundanrunband, facebook.com/rundanrunband, rundanrun.bandcamp.com

We can also be found on iTunes, Amazon, CDbaby, etc.


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