What's your favorite
Runaway Symphony album?
The story of a band, like any story worth hearing, has distinct chapters. There is a bright beginning, with new acquaintances and bold dreams to change the world or, at least, look vaguely cool. There are stretches of struggle-filled songwriting and mediocre performances, small victories, countless lessons, and a precious handful of unforgettable moments as the characters grow up in front of your eyes. The adventure unwinds itself like the plot-line of an admirable, if a bit ambitious, American novel. The chapter we’re on now is the year 2015, and it has been a particularly special one for Runaway Symphony. The year isn’t even over, but so much has happened to us as a band and as individual people already, that I (Daniel) feel like it should be etched in the official record of the internet.
We began the year with a running start, rolling in on the momentum of what felt like career-defining performances. 2014 had seen us finally breaking into the Seattle music scene, with a wildcard slot on the bill of Doe Bay Fest serving as a launchpad into the fascinating world of west-side music culture. We were overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the opportunities we were given that year, and all of the wonderful people we met*. And so we returned home to Moscow, Idaho, feeling like heroes, to begin the new year with a collection of new songs for our newfound friends and fans. While we started to hammer out the record, we decided not to take any breaks from performing. The songs needed time and attention, sure, but there were so many amazing concerts popping up in front of us that taking any 'time off' was the last thing we wanted.
One of those amazing concerts came in February, when we got to share the stage with one of our heroes, Kris Orlowski, at The Bartlett in Spokane. Mr. Orlowski, who is much more successful than we, comes from the same Seattle scene that welcomed us so warmly, and despite our difference of origin, we felt as though we shared some brotherhood or heritage. It was such an honor to play in that gorgeous room that night, that we dressed up and wore bow ties. For four Idaho boys, it may as well have been the Grammys. Later that month we traveled to my hometown, Bonners Ferry, to play in the High school Auditorium. Yes, Bonners Ferry is a tiny town, and it isn’t exactly on the way to any bigger hub of the entertainment industry. She isn’t much. She is my home. It was a special night, for me personally, and for the band. We discovered that the smallest town we had ever played in was home to one of our biggest fanbases.
March rolled around, and we headed out west to do a couple shows for our friends in Washington. We played at the world’s best house show venue, Two Bar in Wenatchee, which is really just Scott and Jenny’s living room. But aside from making fantastic margaritas, these friends of ours from Doe Bay promote their shows and treat their bands better than most “real” venues. Which is why, I suppose, they’ve been able to book bands like The Head and The Heart and Pickwick. The following morning we made the familiar journey over the pass to Seattle, where we set up our gear in the loft of a downtown art gallery and prepared for a significant night: Headlining a sold-out Seattle Living Room Show. It was kind of a fluke, really. Nobody knows who we are. We didn’t sell out that show because we were popular. The sisters who run SLRS do a great job at creating culture. A culture that supports and listens to bands. We were just lucky enough to be invited.
Around that time, we signed a publishing deal with Sleeping Giant Media to promote our music and ‘pitch’ us to films and television. In light of this newfound outlet, we turned our attention to finishing our short album. It was only 5 songs long, but we felt like they were the best 5 songs we had ever made, and we were eager to share them with the world. The four of us had been playing together for about 5 years, and we understood one another better than we ever had, both musically and personally, which made us a better band. We knew how to read one another’s playing, how to sort through abstract creative ideas from four different brains and turn it into a unified song. Basically, if we were in a motivational football movie, we were at the part where we overcome our differences and become an odds-defying, well-oiled winning machine. We were getting tighter as a band, but more importantly, we were getting braver and more ambitious. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn or something. We realize that we’re a little silly and not a big deal, but we also wanted to make the biggest, greatest five-song EP that we possibly could. So we named the record Titans, and threw everything we had at these songs.
As the finishing touches were being put on the mix, we decided to try something we’ve never done before: make a music video. This is usually not a good idea if you don’t have money or experience. However, if you have community, you don’t have to look far for creative, driven friends who are willing to help for nothing more than a slice of pizza. Our talented friend and collaborator Eric Foss agreed to shoot and edit the whole thing, which gave us the experience and production value we were looking for, and with a combination of ingenuity, thrift store shopping, and a lot of gold paint, we were able to fill north Idaho’s woods with props from a fairytale universe. We shot the short film over a weekend, and finished right after Titans was released. I’m a little biased, but I think the video is really good. I’m insanely proud of everyone who who helped make it. We have the most giving, most fun, most talented group of friends in the world. I would make a whole record’s worth of videos with that crew if I could.
On June 12th, we headlined our hometown art festival, Moscow’s Artwalk, and announced the coming release of our deluxe EP, Titans, and our music video for Fairy Tales. We promoted the EP with a set at Yakima’s Folk Life Festival and an exclusive performance with Seattle’s underground Sofar Sounds. But the year’s most significant concert was yet to come. Through a connection at our local radio station**, we were given the opportunity to open for grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat in neighboring Lewiston, Idaho on August 29th. Truthfully, the guys in Runaway Symphony don’t really have ‘Bubbly’ on repeat in the van, but genre differences aside, it was an exciting opportunity, and a huge blessing. The chance to share the stage with someone who is nationally recognized is, in a way, affirmation. More than that, though, it was a gift. We were like a kid who just received a BB gun for christmas. We had played our share of bad venues and events; some terrible, some genuinely dangerous (example: the drunk guy who hates our music has a gun stuffed down his pants,) and after years of banding together through bad sound systems, small crowds, and
financial peril, this show was literally a dream come true. The stage, sound system, crowd, and merch sales were all incredible that night. But what made the night so special wasn’t how well we did as a band (I had a pretty mediocre night on stage, in all honesty). What made it special was the support we received from our fans, friends, and family. My brother flew in from Colorado, our parents were there, our close friends were there either cheering us on or helping with merch and set-up. We had a few backstage passes that said ‘band’ on them, and we let our friends wear them and hang out in our trailer (this is the only scenario where that is cool, by the way.) It was a beautiful night because all the behind-the-scenes people who help us be a band got to actually be in the band. It was beautiful because our music helped bring people together. We are overwhelmed with the support, love, and grace we were shown that night, and are so grateful to everyone who drove down to Lewiston and paid to see a local band play. We don’t deserve friends like you. We don’t deserve any of the blessings we received that night. From the weather to the weird salad in the trailer, it was all by God’s grace.
As big as this year has been for Runaway Symphony the band, it’s been a bigger year for us personally. I married the love of my life, Laura, in early August. Jason married Ariel, his best friend and true love, in September. And everyone in Runaway Symphony got a new job this year. Chris took a new nursing job, I accepted a Graphic Design position at a Christian college and Church, Aj started renovating houses and running sound, and most recently, Jason started working as a graphic designer for an Economic modeling company. As most of you are probably aware, being in a band doesn’t really pay the bills, so we’re really grateful for the jobs we have. With new schedules and new families, there has been some adjusting we’ve had to do, and the biggest adjustment is location. Chris’s job took him to Spokane, Aj’s job is in Seattle, and my job is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jason is the only one who managed to stick around in Moscow.
At this point, you might be thinking, So you all live in different cities? I guess you can’t play together anymore. This is the end. To those of you who love Runaway Symphony and care about our band and music, I want to make it clear that this is not the end. We’re not going anywhere. I mean, I guess we’re going all over the country, but we still love each other and love music, and we’re going to continue making it. We will have to take some time off from performing, but as we settle into our lives and marriages that’s probably a good thing. For the time being, we’re going to focus on writing new music, and I’m super excited about what could happen. With a new city and new schedule, I’ve been able to make songwriting a normal part of my life, and I’ve been able to find new perspectives and fresh inspiration amidst so many changes. I guess something special happens when a songwriter moves to Bob Dillon’s home state.
*Seriously, we love you. Tos Fackenthall, Kevin Sur, Joe Bay Brotherton, Antoinette, Erin Austin, Nathan Reed, Jason Sees, Watt sisters, Kristopher Orlowski and many more.
**Special thanks to Andru Gomez.
I wish I could give you a preview of what the future has for Runaway Symphony, but right now the projects simply aren’t ready to be unveiled. I don’t know what will end up getting recorded, so the only thing I will say about the future of Runaway Symphony music is this: You can expect to hear from other people. Some of the things that inspire me the most are things that happen in the lives of my friends. My experiences and perspectives are pretty limited, and I think my career as a songwriter would be pretty boring if I only wrote stories that included me.
To those of you who made 2015 such a special year, thank you. Thank you for coming to our shows, and for buying our music, or listening to us on Spotify, or for being forced to listen to us by your crazy roommate. Thank you for listening to Titans. Thank you for sharing our stuff on social media, and singing with us, and letting us be a small part of your life. Here’s to the next Chapter.
Daniel (and Chris and AJ and Jason)
Runaway Symphony is a four member Indie/Rock group from deep in the mountains of northern Idaho. Their history has been built around their passion for story-telling by creating dynamic musical and visual experiences through provocative poetry, and glassy texture and melody that bursts suddenly into musical mayhem.
Contact us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
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