Tonight is one massive night for 3rd & Lindsley. The Goo Goo Dolls are coming through on their SOLD OUT tour with one of the fastest growing indie-alternative bands around, Run River North. When a multi-platinum headliner like that could easily fill up the Bridgestone, we could see a sell out at this tiny venue coming a mile away. It’s going to be one rare and intimate night with the Goo Goo Dolls, and high-fives all around to any readers who snatched some tickets. To everybody else, keep an eye out for our show review with photos, and make sure you aren’t the last one’s to hear of Run River North! We had the pleasure of getting an interview with Run River North’s Alex Hwang, and you can read it in full after the jump.
Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls need no introduction. John Rzeznik and Robby Takac have been shelling out killer tunes since 1985 and they dropped their 10th album, Magnetic, just last year. Don’t let the fact that they’ve been around for decades fool you. These guys have never slowed down, and haven’t wavered in their quality. In fact, they just put out an EP, Warner Sound Sessions, earlier this month! We’ve got a lot to say about tonight’s show, but this should sum up our expectations, “Old dog… new tricks.”
Run River North
Run River North, formerly known as Monsters Calling Home, are the little giants in indie-alternative scene, and they’re moving faster than the Mississippi. They’ve only been a band since 2011 and have already toured with the likes of Goo Goo Dolls, Anberlin, and Moon Taxi, and have been featured on national programs like the Jimmy Kimmel Show and NPR. If the River keeps growing at this rate, Nashville is in for yet another freaking ridiculous flood. Below is our little chat with Run River North’s Alex Hwang, and then you can check out their track “Monsters Calling Home” from Altar TV’s Ballroom Sessions.
No Country: For a lot of people here in Nashville this might be their first time hearing you guys. Could you tell us about your start?
Hwang: Sure, we’re a kind of indie-alternative rock band. We have violins, we’ve got drums, a bunch of guitar, keys, and acoustic, and everybody sings. I like to call it gangster folk oriental, because I think, even if thats not who we are, that should be a genre.
No Country: That’s awesome.
Hwang: So yeah, I think our name really exemplifies what we do on stage. There’s a lot of quiet subtle moments and then things kind of swell up into these bombastic dynamic instrumental sections. We’re always trying to figure out new ways to keep the movement of the entire set going. So yeah, I feel like “River” really describes what our sound is like. Even the fact that everybody sings, we enjoy doing a lot of multi-part harmonies. I guess that could have a little bit of a country folk influence to it, but there’s also a lot of different influences in our band that make for very cool jammy sections that get a lot of build up. So yeah, all that combined makes for a pretty interesting live show
No Country: Yeah, we’re psyched! You mentioned your influences. Do you have any specific influences that you pull from? Maybe with your gangster folk oriental theme?
Hwang: For sure. I mean we love listening to hip hop on the road. So, Mos Def, but with so many people in the band, there’s a lot of different stuff. John’s been listening to Thrice and Cold War Kids, and still does. Daniel’s really into Mute Math, and Death Cab for Cutie. Joe is just getting into a lot of classic rock (Zeppelin). But he and I actually love Tenacious D. They’re awesome and they’re not given enough credit. Jennifer has been on a St. Vincent kick recently. Sally is into The xx. And then collectively we all like big bands that have [good] storytelling like Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, The Shins, and Modest Mouse. We have a lot of influences. So it’s a lot of fun to talk about what everyone’s listening to in the band.
No Country: Yeah, that’s great. You’re formerly known as Monsters Calling Home, and one of your most popular songs is called “Monsters Calling Home“. Could you tell us a little bit about the significance of that name?
Hwang: Yeah, that’s actually how we started the band. [We] went on this backpacking trip to Zion. We just found similar skeletons in our closets from our immigrant families’ stories. So, I wrote the song called “Monsters Calling Home,” and then I wanted to perform it on this, I guess, Asian-American competition called Kollaboration at a big theater in LA. So I auditioned with the song and, since it was such a big stage, I wanted to fill up the stage and I asked people who I admired. So, I brought the song to them, asking what they thought of the song and if they wanted to play for the one gig. And, after that gig, we didn’t end up winning, but ended up with a lot of fans and vibed pretty well on that song, and I brought more songs to them. That’s how the band started rolling, and we didn’t have a band name so we just picked the song title as a name and tried to brand it as much as we could. We ended up just changing [our name] for other reasons, but that’s how we started as Monsters Calling Home.
No Country: Nice. Yeah, I think Run River North fits you guys well with that movement that you were talking about. That’s great. Also, it’s my understanding that are all of your parents Korean immigrants?
Hwang: Yeah, all of them are Korean immigrants, and we’re all second generation Korean-Americans as a band.
No Country: Nice. And were all of your parents always supportive of all of your choices to pursue your music careers?
Hwang: Um, you know, I think like any parents, they probably see music as a pretty unstable and high risk move for anyone’s part, rather than the fact that we’re all doing it together as a band and not seeing, you know, anybody on the landscape look like us. It’s definitely still an on-going conversation, but I think that was important with our parents. It’s not whether they say yes or no absolutely, but its just [that] we’re always in dialogue with them, and the stories that we tell in our songs are always in an ongoing process now. So, for the most part, now that we have a great label, we have managers, and we have all the support, and all this early kind of fireworks in our career, it’s been a little bit easier to ease them into the idea that this is something that we could be doing for a career. But yeah, it’s always tough. They wonder what it means to be on the road, or what does it look like to get on TV, or why aren’t you guys on a festival. All these different questions. We’re still struggling as well too. The main point is to always be in dialogue.
No Country: Right. Yeah, they must be really psyched about you guys touring with the Goo Goo Dolls though.
Hwang: I mean, frankly, I don’t think the majority of them really know about the Goo Goo Dolls. But we are! I mean I grew up playing “Slide” and obviously, everybody knows “Iris.” So it’s just been a blast! I think not only do we open for them, but we actually play on a lot of their songs and we’re actually a part of their set as well, so Jennifer and Daniel will play violin for a couple of their songs, and do percussion and come up for back up vocals for a couple songs. We’re integrated into their set, so it’s kind of surreal for the songs to be sung by us as well. They’ve been really gracious about letting us be a part of their full set.
No Country: Yeah, that’s great. We heard you also played with Anberlin.
Hwang: Yeah, that’s kinda how we got started. I think maybe 2 or 3 months into being a band, we played with Anberlin at USC in SoCal, and, being Christian as a band, [they] just asked if we wanted to come on an acoustic tour with them. And then that’s how we met our manager. That’s how it all got started. That was the first time we actually came to Nashville. We played at the Mercy Lounge. I think that was our first show outside of LA, and it was really interesting because we didn’t know what to expect. You know, obviously, Nashville’s a tough crowd. That was a great time. Anberlin was just really gracious to us and, playing in Nashville, we won over a lot of fans. We got to eat at Arnold’s, and, yeah, it’s been great. And coming back to Nashville, this is going to be our first time playing as Run River North in Nashville. So we’re pretty excited to be coming back.
No Country: We’re excited too. It’s going to be great. Your videos are awesome. Your songs are great. We watched that video of Jimmy Kimmel surprising you guys. That looked like a special moment.
Hwang: Oh yeah. That was a really good crowd. So they really did punk us. I mean, we thought like maybe we would get like free cars or something. But to play on national TV was definitely… they did a really great job with surprising us.
No Country: Yeah, it looked great. A lot of our readers here in Nashville are young musicians chasing their passions. What kind of things would you say to them? Some advice maybe?
Hwang: I would say don’t cover so many songs and try to write good songs. Try to figure out ways to showcase those songs. I think, for us, that’s what happened because we just didn’t have enough money to go into the studio to record, so we just found out that the car had good acoustics and we wanted to make a video that was different and didn’t look like other videos, and I think thats what Honda really gravitated towards. It was organic, we just really looked like we were having fun doing it, and we believed in the songs. For any musician, just write great songs, find your voice, and and know that no one can write like you or sing like you, so try to make your own story. Try not to do so many covers. For me, every time I look on Youtube it just seems like everyone wants to cover other artists and no one wants to do their own songs. So it’s refreshing to hear, whatever genre you’re in, someone’s opinion about something. That comes out in your original songs. That’s all I can say for now. I’m still one of those young artists too. So I could use a lot of help and critiques as well from other people.
No Country: You guys are really killing it. You’re doing great for young artists. You said don’t cover so many songs and to write your own stuff. About how long have you been writing your own stuff?
Hwang: Um, probably since I liked girls. You know, you start playing music because you want to impress somebody. I think though, before girls, it was the Lion King Soundtrack. I think that was life changing in my eyes. I started writing back then, and I think it was definitely to impress girls at the beginning and then sometime in college I started writing about folks that I know and my folks and that kind of changed my focus on what it was to song write. So yeah, I think I always wanted to tell stories and whether it was to impress a girl or to impress myself, that was [when I started].
No Country: Yeah, nice. Did it work? The impressing girls?
Hwang: I’d say like half-way. I didn’t really get all the way. I mean like I don’t think I’ve really fallen in love yet either. It didn’t work out so well in terms of like, writing love songs is not my forte. [I’m usually] writing about people, not love songs.
No Country: Gotcha. You guys are from LA, right?
Hwang: Yeah, we’re from kinda the suburbs of LA. We’re not really in the Hollywood area but kind of in the Valley and Glendale areas.
No Country: We’re always looking for new music to check out. Do you have any suggestions for up-and-coming bands that you might know from your area?
Hwang: From our area? Man, honestly there was this Nashville act that was awesome and I can’t stop thinking about them. It was Moon Taxi? Yeah, they’re great guys. We learned a lot from them, so we went on tour with them for one of their short West Coast gigs earlier this year. We met them out at SXSW and we’re looking forward to seeing what they’re doing and how they’ve been progressing. I think Moon Taxi is great. They’re Nashville local so you’ve probably heard of them but yeah for me and a lot of my friends back in the West Coast, this is kind of a first time kick about them, and it’s been great. Their live show is awesome.
No Country: Yeah, we’d agree. We love those guys too. They’re great. We’ve only got one more question for you. Do you guys have any embarrassing moments you’ve had on the road?
Hwang: I put oreos in my PB&J sandwich, and I feel like I’m going to do that every day for the rest of my life now. We have this huge fascination with how delicious oreos are. I don’t know if that’s embarrassing enough, but for a group that sings, I feel like we eat way too many oreos for our own good and probably should cut down on that. But we can’t, they’re so good.
No Country: (laughs) You said “oreos on a peanut butter jelly sandwich”?
Hwang: IN a peanut butter jelly sandwich, like you split the oreo, and then you kind of have the crunch, and I don’t know, for me it works. It might be disgusting to some, but actually maybe that’s not embarrassing, because I’m very proud of that.
No Country: No, that’s innovative! That’s great. Well, yeah man, is there anything else you’d like to add for our Nashville readers?
Hwang: Uh yeah, I mean we’re coming through to play an acoustic set, but we can’t wait to come back and play a full band set because that’s a totally different beast and it’s a different channel. And, because I think we’ve eaten the crap out of Arnold’s already and I think we’d like to try out different places, I could probably do with a little less oreo cookies, so we’re also looking for different places to eat in Nashville.
No Country: Places to eat, yeah. There’s a lot of them, so that’s pretty much a whole separate discussion. But, when do you think you’ll be coming back to do a full set?
Hwang: I hope soon. I think we’ve got something in July where we’re going to at least Austin, and then we’re going to see if we can keep going east. So, hopefully in the summer, but if anything just check back at our website. We’re definitely going to be out and about. We’re just trying to figure out any and every possible way can come out and tour as much as we can. I think we’re having a quick stop in Asheville North Carolina for this really interesting festival called Wild Goose Festival. It’s not confirmed, we’re hoping to lock that in soon. We’ll let you know if another Nashville date happens around that time! [NCFNN]
Goo Goo Dolls and Run River North will perform April 19th at 3rd & Lindsley. The show begins at 8:30 PM CDT (doors at 6:00 PM), and tickets are SOLD OUT.