RUN RIVER NORTH Talks – Jimmy Kimmel, Hanging Out With Mozart At Bonnaroo, Filming Their First Video And More!
Posted On 17 Jun 2014
Tag: Arcade Fire, Beetle, Bonnaroo, Copa Vida!, Death Cab For Cutie, Disney, Emily Blunt, First Aid Kit, Folk, Frank Ocean, Hodor, Honda, JMR, Make Music Pasadena, Max And The Moon, Monsters Calling Home, Mozart, Pasadena, Run River North, Sarah McLachlan, St. Vincent, Tenacious D, The Lion King, The Lion King soundtrack, The Troubadour, The xx, Thrice, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Yoda
Run River North is a band that’s gotten a few more breaks than most on its level. Last year, the Los Angeles based Korean-American musicians produced a music video from inside their Hondas,which you can watch below. The video went viral and straight to the car maker. The company rewarded the group with a surprise performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Before the band landed on the popular late-night program, Run River North had already been approached by a major label. But things didn’t work out quite as they imagined. After the band’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the contract offers slowed, then eventually stopped coming in.
After the unexpected setback, Hwang and his five band mates dedicated any free time they had in between full-time jobs or full-time classes at Cal State to songwriting, producing and promoting their music. They built a local following and eventually sold out LA’s Troubadour, a hot live-music venue for up-and-coming artists.
A few gigs later, an offer came from Nettwerk, the Canada-based label that signed the band and Run River North are now making festival appearances, selling out venues and having their song used on NBA finals commercials. Find out more about your new favorite band here:
How would you describe your music to those who have not had the pleasure to be introduced to your sound yet?
Stories of folks you know or imagine, swelling strings both classical and electric, dynamic and bombastic rhythm section, both sweeping and subtle soundscapes, gang vocal harmonies and whiskey.
There are six of you in the band, what were all your musical backgrounds growing up? And how did you all meet? Pretty diverse musical backgrounds – from jazz to American folk, Death Cab to Arcade Fire, classical music to Disney soundtracks, Thrice, The XX, Tenacious D and St. Vincent. We met through the song Monsters Calling Home – the six of us were the first to acknowledge the monsters in us and our families. And when we first got together to play the song, the sound was instantly exciting and worth working on.
I recently saw you guys play at both The Troubadour (for the record release) and at Make Music Pasadena. You guys blew the roof off that outdoor stage! It was an incredible set and the highlight of the festival from many that I talked to there. What was it like being about of that festival? What were the highlights for you?
Thank you so much! That really is so great to hear. Being a part of a local outdoor festival feels like home. We frequent the Pasadena area for the awesome food, drinks and shops of friends (Copa Vida!), so to be able to play our songs around the places we hang around is comfortable and genuinely fun. It’s like an elaborate (and massive) backyard bbq/picnic.
Some of my personal highlights were getting to go into the audience during our set and stealing Sally’s hat during Fight to Keep. We got to hear Max and the Moon right before us and that was awesome – great sound, good people.
Also, having been at SXSW, it was fun to imagine the potential of MM Pasadena with more folks walking around and finding your next favorite bands playing just around the corner.
What’s your favorite song that you have written and can you share with me what was the influence?
I go through phases, but at the moment, I’ve been really enjoying the lyrics to Beetle. I remember when I wrote each part of that song and it was a process that took 3 years. From a girl that I was trying to date, to certain recurring dreams and then also a impromptu writing session that I can distinctly visually remember – each time I sing that song, all of those memories come at me like a short film and the song is the soundtrack to all of it.
Also, the first words always ground me and remind me how fleeting this kind of life could be. At one point, you can be playing on the biggest stage and then the next day, playing to no one. I don’t know where to begin, if this is where it will end up.
What was the first piece of music that you fell in love with growing up?
The Lion King soundtrack. It’s epic and also, curiously, great tool for extending your vocabulary as an 8 year old.
If you could meet any musician that isn’t alive anymore, who would it be? Why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go? What would you want to do? What would you want to ask them?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Because he is Mozart. I would take him to this year’s Bonnaroo and see as many acts as we could. We would rage into night, wake up hopefully and be there as he responds musically to the weekend.
How has the tour been so far? How has life on the road been treating you all? Can you share with us any memorable stories from the road so far?
Tour has been amazing. It will always beat a 9-5 job. Road life is long. We don’t have a TM or extra hands so we’re all the ones driving, setting up, selling merch, packing and also playing music. So far, the memorable moments, the ones that truly encourage us is when we hear about fans and friends who sometimes drive further than we do to come see the show and hang out. Meeting those fans really helps to keep the fire burning.
If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
Rather than things, I would bring people – Emily Blunt, Hodor and Yoda.
What is in your current music playlist? Any guilty pleasure songs?
Frank Ocean, First Aid Kit, JMR. Guilty pleasure: Time after time – the one featuring Sarah McLachlan.
Do you have any hidden talents we don’t know about that you would like to share with our readers?
A fan made a *kendama for us recently and Joe and I are pretty good. But John is a natural.
(*A kendama is a traditional Japanese toy which consists of three wooden cups of different sizes placed on the center of a wooden spike, with a smaller cup at the spike’s base and a ball connected by a string to the center piece.)
I know family plays a BIG role in all your lives and you are now seeing some tangible milestones. How does your family feel about all this now that the momentum is building and the tour dates are rolling in?
They’re all still in amazement. We just recently heard our song during game four of the NBA finals for a bumper and things like that continue to be tangible milestones for us and our families. I think we’re in the same boat as our families when it comes to moments like that and having a full summer tour schedule – grateful and just trying to enjoy the ride.
What’s on tap next for you guys this year?
Tour! Tour! Tour!
To learn more about Run River North and to find out when they’re coming to a town near you, check them out here !
Run River North – Fight To Keep
Run River North – Growing Up