w/ Looks Bad Feels Bad, Short Division
Sat. Sept. 28
1026 E. Montague Ave.
In addition to mentioning that the three members of Charleston’s Super Runaway “look incredibly beautiful while simultaneously melting your faces,” the band’s Facebook page lists some key influences: Superchunk, the Replacements, and Mission of Burma. And on the relatively new group’s upcoming EP, Failure to Thrive, at least two of those influences are fully on display.
Two of the EP’s songs, namely the first single, “No Resolution,” and the final track, “Universal Remote,” have their roots in Mission Of Burma’s signature wall-of-sound guitars, essentially using them as texture while Brendon Shealy’s dexterous basslines provide the main melodic thrust. And “Janine,” a song written by singer/guitarist David Lynn, is a dead-ringer for mid-1980s, Twin/Tone Records-era Replacements. It’s a goofy, off-kilter stomp with jagged riffs, a stop-start beat, and an I’m-a-lovable-bastard persona that Paul Westerberg would die for.
What’s cool about Failure to Thrive, and about the band’s overall sound, is the way that the influences combine into something greater than the sum of their parts. Super Runaway is far more interested in catchy melodies than Mission of Burma ever was; the rhythm section of Shealy and drummer Rhett Leonard is far tighter than the Replacements’ Chris Mars and Tommy Stinson ever were; and Lynn has a real knack for layering his buzzsaw guitars into the songs.
All of that skill probably comes from the fact that, even though they’re a new band, the guys from Super Runaway aren’t rookies. Shealy plays with local hardcore act Hybrid Mutants, and he was in the late, lamented glam-punk-electronica outfit Glass Lashes. Lynn and Leonard have played together for years as part of Silent Twin, né Hubris.
After Silent Twin ran its course in 2018, Lynn and Leonard decided to continue on and started looking for a bass player.
“We knew Brendon from Glass Lashes,” Lynn says. “We’d played with them a few times around town. We kind of put it out into the ether that we were looking for a bass player and he stepped up.”
After dealing with larger ensembles in the past, Lynn and Leonard made the decision early on to keep Super Runaway a trio, at least for now.
“The first band that Rhett and I were in, we had a lead guitar player, but he wasn’t able to record with us,” Lynn says. “So, we recorded as a trio for our first EP. But, with a three-piece, there are less things to worry about. Being in a band, a lot of it is communication and compromise and scheduling, and it’s a lot easier to do that with three people than four. The more people you have in a band the more complications there are. It’s also a lot easier to hear every instrument.”
[Editor’s note: Ironically, Super Runaway added a fourth member, guitarist/keyboardist Kenneth Hopkins, after this interview was conducted.]
In addition to being a first-rate bassist, Shealy also brought a love of punk music to the band, adding a more ragged edge to their sound.
“Brendon came in to the band knowing what to expect, but he brought more of a punk aesthetic,” Lynn says. “We’d always played around with the punk thing, but we’d never been a punk band, per se. We knew what each of us were going for, and we tried to meet somewhere in between.”
The band recorded Failure To Thrive at The Jam Room in Columbia last March, working with Jay Matheson, studio owner and engineer — and we do mean engineer.
“Jay has recorded a lot of different artists,” Lynn says, “including our first two EPs with Hubris and Silent Twin. He’s the consummate professional. But he’ll tell you when you go there to record: he’s not a producer; he’s an engineer. He’s not trying to make you sound like he wants you to sound; he’s trying to make you sound like you want to sound. So just having that type of mindset going in, he’s a good person to work with.”
With that approach, Super Runaway was able to be themselves, channeling that mix of power-pop and punk rock into a cohesive set of songs.
“There are some people who record you that want to put their signature stamp on the sound,” Lynn says. “Jay doesn’t do that. You can listen to multiple things he’s done, and there’s no signature ‘Jay’ sound. They all sound unique to the band, and I appreciate that.”
It’s fortunate that the band was able to capture their own sound, because these Charleston music-scene vets plan on making Super Runaway their main concern for the near future.
“This is my only project, but Rhett and Brendon both play cover band gigs,” Lynn says. “This is the artistic release, though. With the cover gigs, you can go out and play and it scratches a certain itch, but the creative itch is more present in this band.”
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