reviewing the bands newest release Normal for Glide Magazine, Dan McCurry was nice enough to get in touch and we conducted this interview to follow up on some things. Enjoy!
Dan McCurry of Run Dan Run: We first began in 2006 as a recording project without any immediate intention of being a band. Nick Jenkins (the drummer) and I got together over a college spring break and recorded 3 songs of mine in the wee wee hours of the morning. We were pretty excited about what came out of that and showed Ash Hopkins, a local recording whiz kid at the time, who was also excited about it. From there it took about 6 months to actually all play a show together officially as a band. I am not sure why it took 6 months. Anyhow, from there we began playing a lot around town and regionally, recorded our debut album, toured a bit along the east coast from MA to MS, recorded an acoustic EP, toured a little more, etc. I would say that 2006-2009 we were pretty busy. Things slowed down for us 2010-2011 during which we recorded our sophomore album Normal. Now we're a bit more active again though not in all the same ways.
RtBE: Your acoustic EP 27 Coming St. give a stripped down version of the band that sounds intimate and direct, what was the inspiration to recording live in a living room?
Dan McCurry: We play pretty well together and I think at the time we were just feeling tired a little with the rock 'n' roll sound. I have a nice living room with a nice old upright in it, actually the piano from my childhood. It just seemed like the thing to do at the time and I think it was. It may happen again, it may not. It is a recording of the moment for the moment. It is entirely different from our full-lengths Basic Mechanics and Normal.
RtBE: Normal is your newest release and your second full length, it sounds confident and as if the band is growing, how did this recording process go?
Dan McCurry: It was a bit spread out. We started in June 2010 with a live drum session. We tracked 8 mics on drums but still played live in the same room, the 3 of us, with our guitars/keys running direct through the headphones so they weren't recorded. we wanted to get the right energy of playing together but still retain the clarity of tracking individually.
In this first session we tracked drums for 6 of the 10 songs on the album. After that I worked on the tunes on my own and built things up. Then we did a 2nd live drum session tracking the other 4 tunes on the album. I did more work on my own, then caught up with Ash Hopkins to record his guitar and bass parts once I had the songs pretty well mapped out. Once he did his parts I was able to wrap things up.
We all got together another time or two to go over mixes and track a few random parts but from that point it was pretty well done. So basically it is recorded in this patchwork style. We all live in different states now so this is pretty much how we have to do things. We like to let things stew a bit rather than knock it all out in a 3 week studio session. There really are too many little parts and layers to track in a matter of a few weeks anyhow. Also we have our own gear, pretty decent stuff, and do it all ourselves, minus mastering. I prefer this method honestly. Gives us more freedom to experiment.
RtBE: On both the 27 Coming St EP and Normal you seem to juxtapose sweet sounding musical backing with some cutting lyrics that wouldn't be out of place on a much more aggressive album, why do you guys take this approach?
Dan McCurry: I suppose I am just not much of a love song writer. I figure there are plenty of other writers doing that and doing it well so I choose to write about the subject matter that is a bit darker and harder to handle, the stuff we all think about but don't care to talk about. That's my own approach to writing.
RtBE: I need to ask about "Lovesick Animal" off of Normal, it is still one of the catchiest songs I have heard this year, what was the inspiration behind it?
Dan McCurry: Glad you asked! I don't think I've been asked this question before. This is probably the oldest song on the record written in 2007 after a break up. It somewhat analyzes both the situation and the mindset of the ex-gf, her hang ups, my own mindset, that sort of thing. It then all boils down to making the statement that really we're all lovesick animals (demonstration by all of the spoken parts, people admitting "I've been a lovesick animal" followed by the screamed chorus from about 8 people? I'd have to count). There may or may not be some sexual connotation in there, I don't know.
RtBE: All the instrumentation in that track is wonderful, sometimes it feels like indie bands will just add sounds/instruments to be quirky, but this track pulls it all together, who is playing on it?
Dan McCurry: Oh gosh! Well, 17 people total contributed to this track! Most people either spoke the line "I've been a lovesick animal" while a few screamed the chorus (same lyrics, gotta be resourceful). I played guitar, keys, & percussion & of course sang. Ash Hopkins did some more guitar work & electric bass. Nick Jenkins played the drums and some percussion. Our friend Kevin Hackler aided by playing trumpet parts and John Kotab stepped in to lend some sweet trombone action. There isn't a person who participated on this song that didn't contribute either a spoken, sung, or screamed vocal to it. This track was a monster with 100+ tracks to the session. The additional vocal contributions came from Mike Mewborne, Joe Suthers, Alex Muller, , Amanda Mae Monson, Elise Porter, Karis West, Amanda Lewicki, Julie Naleda, Cindy Barnet, Giovanna Allegretti Hopkins & Megan Elger.
RtBE: Labels always tend to suck, but are a necessary evil when it comes to reviewing albums, you guys seem to embrace the indie label and your local scene, also are you OK with dance-able white indie rock?
Dan McCurry: We certainly embrace the label indie. I think we relate to it because it is both a sound (non-commercial, non-glazed-over-pop-BS) and a mindset. As far as "dance-able white indie rock" goes, if it relates to someone, I am fine with it. We're certainly trying to be relative. We're not trying to be in-accessible, though we're also not trying to chiefly be accessible as that will just produce a load of crap.
RtBE: What's next for Run Dan Run?
Dan McCurry: Well, we're still working on a few music videos for the tracks on the album, still following up with press, setting the occasional show, etc. Things are generally a little harder to coordinate though as we're spread out a bit, myself in Charleston, SC (our home base), Ash Hopkins in Durham, NC, & Nick Jenkins in New York City. We've gained a bit more momentum with this album and I hope we can follow up with a third album in the near future.
We have plans to release a b-sides in the next 6 months I believe. There are a few tracks that haven't made an album for one reason or another but are lovely songs that we'd like to share. Plus I figure if they sit too long they die and become irrelevant. Also, we're working on building up our own label, Hearts & Plugs, so that is a bit of a 2-way street; we're giving it some cred and it then gives us some clout, and vice versa. Our album is the first for the Hearts & Plugs catalog and we'll be soon releasing our friends The Lovely Few's album The Perseids next month as the 2nd release. Due to circumstances and distance, we have to carve our own path. Some steps we take might be a little out of order but it is what works best for us at the time. Either way though we'll be taking steps and staying busy I am sure.