Jon Berry of Runner Runner
When Alternative Press tells us to watch a band, we usually listen, however, we may have dropped the ball on this one! Crowned one of AP’s “Bands to Watch in 2009” it wasn’t until we heard their insanely catchy single “So Obvious” that Runner Runner first hit our radar. While we tried to wash the song out of our heads for days they did the unthinkable and unleashed an even more addictive stop-action video for the song to create some buzz.
Runner Runner (Ryan Ogren on vocals, Nick Bailey on guitar, Peter Munters on guitar, Jon Berry on bass and James Ulrich on drums) came together first as friends and then slowly morphed into the band they are today. Hailing from bands like Rufio and Over it, the sound that Runner Runner has evolved into is a bit more pop rock than their past projects but they seem to have found their calling. Writing songs in their backyard and putting together quirky videos is just the beginning of getting to know these guys. Their self-titled debut release (produced by Dave Darling) comes out later this summer and the band is currently finishing up a tour with Amber Pacific and Cartel before they head out with Secondhand Serenade and The White Tie Affair. We didn’t want to wait any longer to talk to these guys so we hit up bassist Jon Berry for all the scoop.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette
Let’s start off with a little history, you were all in different bands before you came together as Runner Runner and your paths sort of crossed out on the road – can you tell us how you went from chance meetings to a band together?
I’ve known the guys for awhile, we were all in different bands that toured together and at various times we’d all take each other out on the road. I moved in with Ryan, Nick and Peter about three years ago. We started writing together and it felt really cool and was a lot different than what we had done before so we decided to keep it up. We started recording and playing some shows and it eventually turned into Runner Runner.
Your new album is coming out soon and most of us have only heard the song “So Obvious”. I’d like to throw out a few song titles to you, and ask you to tell us a bit about the song –
We started that in our backyard one day. Peter and our friend Andrew (who’s in a band called Friday Night Boys) started working on it together and then the rest of us got involved and made an acoustic demo that day. Ryan came back with a new version for the verse that we all liked and it’s a fun little sentimental song. It has a power ballad type vibe.
That song is fun. We got the music from a DJ friend of ours out in New York – he set up some music that we thought was pretty sweet and so we went back one day and Ryan had a chord for it and we added all the melodies and when we recorded it. The song’s original demo was really a remixy kind of pop, dance feeling and now it’s more of a rock AC/DC vibe.
You wrote over 40 songs for this album and I’m always amazed how bands are able to whittle those down to the final cut, what’s your process?
We have so many songs. I feel like there are so many sides to us, we have so many personalities and we had to narrow it down to what fit the album the best and management and the label helped us. Because we wrote them all we cared what went on this album but we knew the rest of them would be heard as well so we didn’t get too worried about it.
So let’s talk about the viral stop motion video that you made for “So Obvious” – it’s very creative and completely catchy and addictive – where did the idea start?
My girlfriend actually made that for us. We were just hanging out one day and she had the idea to make a video and she had done stop motion before. It took about 30 minutes to make because it’s just continuous photos. The part that took the longest where probably writing out the RunnerRunner.com messages on the front. It was fun.
You have admitted that you’re all a big fan of 80s music, do you think that influence can be felt in your music?
Yes, I think there are influences throughout the songs, there are some throwback moments, but then there is also a very modern feel to it as well. 80’s jams are the best.
You worked with producer Dave Darling on this album who is most known for his work with the Stray Cats and Brian Setzer - but when you went into the studio the songs were pretty much finished so what was his approach with you and what did he contribute to the process?
The album was done, it just wasn’t recorded. When we met him the first time we just vibed well with him. His take on music is very organic and I feel like he had the approach that we wanted for this record. We wanted a really cool, lively, modern rock/pop vibe with it. Working with him was awesome, we learned a lot from him.
You’ve been named as one of Alternative Presses 2009 bands to watch – what kind of impact did that have on you, did you find new fans seeking you out?
It was very flattering. I don’t know if there’s any pressure, we’re just doing our thing. We love playing shows, we love interacting with our fans and you should definitely watch us and come out to a live show, you’ll have fun.
When people listen to your debut album for the first time, what do you want them to take away from it?
I’m hoping that when people hear this record that they’ll be inspired to have fun and just let go. I want them to take it all in and have fun. It’s hard to put in words really. When I listen to it I just peace out and reminisce and have fun with it.
Is there one song on the album that was the most rewarding for you to hear the final product of?
I’m really happy with how “So Obvious” turned out and “Life After You” I’m really happy with. “So Obvious” is my favorite right now.
Are you able to play the whole album live right now?
We play about 7 songs right now but I can’t wait until we can play the whole thing.
Since we may be introducing you to some music fans for the first time, can you describe each of your band mates in one word?
Ryan – funny
James – I need a good word for James….serious, but not too serious.
And myself – all over the place…
The band name is a reference to winning against the odds – do you feel like you’re fighting the odds with this band or did you just like the name?
We had a dry erase board that had tons of possible names on it and it was hung up in our house and we would write things and erase things and Runner Runner withheld the test of time. There’s always a risk when you do things in life and we feel it’s very appropriate.
I read that you’re a big surfer, is that what you miss the most when you’re on the road (other than your family and friends)?
Nick and I do a lot of surfing, I was actually just thinking about the beach today. I miss sleeping in my bed and having a normal routine – waking up and chugging a pot of coffee and not living out of a suitcase is nice sometimes.
For more on Runner Runner:
Runner Runner is set to hit the road this summer with Secondhand Serenade and White Tie Affair check out the tour dates below.
17 Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, UT
18 Marquis Theatre, Denver, CO
21 The Loft, Dallas, TX
23 Warehouse Live, Houston, TX
24 Scout Bar, San Antonio, TX
25 Brester Street Ice House, Corpus Christi, TX
27 Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
28 The Social, Orlando, FL
29 The State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
4 Recher Theatre, Towson, MD
5 Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA
7 Royale, Boston, MA
8 Higher Ground, S. Burlington, VT
10 Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
11 Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA
12 Eagle Theatre, Pontiac, MI
13 The Loft, Lansing, MI