Following Runabay’s debut as finalists at Chordblossom’s own 2014 Kickstarter contest, the band have been working steadily on their material and breaking into the Northern Irish scene. With an already impressive list of shows behind them, which include performing at the Giro D’Italia celebrations in Victoria Square, the band also have a lot of new shows and festivals lined up for the summer. Runabay have been steadily working on their material for over a year, and have just released their aptly entitled EP ‘The June E.P.’ on the 19th of the month. We met up with vocalist John McManus to hear about the band’s progression since their beginnings in 2014 and find out all about their new EP.
► John, it’s lovely to meet you. Can you tell me a bit about your new EP ‘The June E.P.’?
John McManus: Nice to meet you too! Yes of course, well as you have stated, it’s called ‘The June E.P.’ and it consists of five songs, which took 18 months to be written, fine-tuned and finalised. The EP itself has a very melodic feel to it, it’s very harmony based and it’s a mixture of folk, pop and a bit of trad as well. I think the EP itself is very much a reflection on where the band has come to and shows our musical progression. We are already looking ahead at how we can differentiate and experiment but this EP showcases our sound as it is now and we are really happy with it. It has a mixture of tunes, some are a bit slower and more folk based and some are pop tunes.
► Runabay was a contestant in Chordblossom’s Kickstarter in 2014, how have the band progressed since then?
Yes, actually the Chordblossom competition was the first time we all played live as a band! We really enjoyed it. Since then we have actually progressed quite a lot and are really trying to become a break through band. We have been played on nearly every local radio station, like Across The Line, BBC Radio Ulster and Blas Ceoil which is great news for us and we have played some great gigs. Runabay also have a lot of gigs and festivals lined up and of course we have just launched our EP so it’s been a fairly upward trajectory for us this far!
► There are six of you in Runabay, how did the band form?
Three of us come from the Glens of Antrim and we have known one another for years. The other three come from Belfast and we all met through different situations so it was a random formation. I had been working on song writing and making my own music for a while and my friend Gary Graham and I decided to record some material. We asked our friend George Sloan to join us as a drummer and then we basically looked out for more members. This led to us finding Dean Walker, our bassist and Gerard McHugh who plays percussion and then we found our cellist, Declan McCartan.
► Do you all come from musical backgrounds?
Yes, we have all been playing music for quite a long time and have lots of experience with it. I actually used to play drums for example. We are all really passionate about music.
► How would you describe your sound?
Our sound I think is best described as uplifting and melodic. We are keen to become more experimental, but on this EP we stick within the folk/indie/pop genre with elements of trad.
► Where would you say you derive your influences from?
There are a lot of bands who have influenced us musically. I think some of the most notable ones would be Fleet Foxes, The Shins, The Beatles, Band of Horses and the Beach Boys. We quite like the epic pop sound. Also, three of us come from the Glens of Antrim, which has amazing scenery and we think that has influenced our music so we try to have a rustic coastal vibe present in our sound.
► I personally really enjoy your lyrics, who does most of the song writing and where do your inspirations come from?
Two of us write the songs, myself and Gary. I write the majority of them, but certainly not all of them. I would have to say again that where we come from influences how we write, as well as bands that have inspired us. I really like the song writing of Johnny Cash, Morrissey and The Avett Brothers. I think we will start becoming more experimental as we progress. I love good pop with a twist. The Shins do it really well and they are definitely an inspiration. We are still evolving as a band but kind of want to get to a point where our lyrics sound unique to us.
► Have you been doing any touring?
Not yet, but we played at the Guinness Amplify concert in Westmeath and in the Summer we will be playing a few festivals round the country, including Swell Festival in Donegal, Sunflower Festival and Dalriada Festival.
► Will you be playing any gigs soon?
Yes indeed, we are headlining Hidden Machine in Voodoo on Thursday the 9th of July to promote our E.P, which will be available for sale there. You can also get it on Bandcamp if you want to check us out!
► John, it was lovely to meet you and thank you very much! Is there anything you want to add?
Thank you, lovely to meet you too! Just check us out on Bandcamp and hope to see you at our Hidden Machine gig on the 9th of June!