Former AP&R pick RUNNER RUNNER have signed a label deal and unlike most, they made history in the process. The SoCal-based pop-rock quintet have partnered with late-night TV powerhouse David Letterman as the first signing to C.E. Music, Letterman’s new label. The band, comprised of members of Over It and Rufio, are currently in the studio with producer Dave Darling (Brian Setzer, Jack Johnson) finishing up their self-titled debut, which will be released this fall through C.E. Music in a joint venture with EMI's Capitol Records and MRV. Here, Runner Runner frontman RYAN OGREN and guitarist NICK BAILEY fill us in on the specifics of the signing and what implications the band’s deal has on Over It’s future.
INTERVIEW: Evan Lucy
How did you guys get involved with David Letterman’s people?
Bailey: Our management company is actually part of Worldwide Pants, which is David Letterman’s production company. They were shopping some music to people at EMI, and it kind of evolved from there. We’re going through Capitol with our management team, and we’re really excited about learning more about the label.
Were you courted by a lot of labels?
Ogren: We’ve been talking to labels for a while. Some have been good situations, some not as good.
Bailey: We’ve been playing music and writing songs and touring for a couple years now, not necessarily as Runner Runner but as artists. We’ve met a ton of labels over the years, but our mission has always been to write great songs. Living in Los Angeles, we’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of labels, but this situation definitely feels the best.
Ogren: We wanted to find the right team that we believed in and who believed in us. I think we found it here. Our management and record label are more than business. It’s like a big family. We have people surrounding us that really care about this project and the music we’re making and really want this to come full-circle.
Have you actually met David Letterman yet?
Bailey: Not yet. I can’t wait, dude!
Ogren: I’m stoked. I’m going to be like, “You got any gum?” [Laughs.]
Maybe a collaboration with Letterman’s bandleader Paul Schaffer down the line?
Ogren: Oh, man! Paul! The little segues he writes are awesome. That’d be so cool.
Over It didn’t seem to have a lot of success with the EMI label family. Why go back with them?
Bailey: I think it’s one of those situations where you’re working with the major-label world or any label at this point, it’s a bit of a gamble. That’s the nature of the business. We’re willing to roll the dice because we feel really good about the songs. As far as Over It goes, that was a completely different situation. Over It dealt with a completely different EMI. It’s a whole new team with fresh new faces. We’re just excited to put out music we love and believe in. We want to make great, honest music that people will be exposed to and enjoy.
Ogren: The business is changing so much. Literally whole staffs are coming and going from label to label. Within the past two years, I’m sure the bulk of the people who worked on the Over It project aren’t even there anymore.
Did you ever consider going the indie route and then upstreaming, or was it “major label or bust” from the start?
Bailey: We actually were originally going to go the indie route and then look for an upstream scenario, but when we turned the songs in to our management, EMI and Capitol heard the songs and were excited to start working them right away. We thought, “Why wait? Let’s just go with people who are excited to work with the band.”
You guys are currently in the studio. What’s the status of the album?
Ogren: We’re actually just moving into the mixing stage of the album. We finished vocals the other day. We’re probably going to touch up some stuff, but we’re on the last legs. We’re very excited. It’s cool to see everything come together.
Bailey: We were turned onto [producer] Dave Darling by someone at the label. We met up with him, and he had a great vibe. We liked where his head was at, and we were fans of his work with Brian Setzer. It’s been a great learning process for us.
Ogren: When we first got with Dave, he instantly got the vision of what we were trying to do. We hit it off before we even started the record.
Is the first single, “So Obvious,” pretty representative of the album?
Bailey: There’s a lot of depth to the record. We have some newer stuff we’re excited for people to hear. It’s a blend of songwriting and sounds.
Ogren: I definitely think people are going to be surprised when they hear this record--in a good way. It’s not just full-on bubblegum stuff. There’s some darker stuff and some really personal and meaningful songs.
Does this signing effectively close the door on the Over It era?
Bailey: I don’t think so. We looked at it like we’re artists. Over It were a period of our paintings when we had a certain style. When we came together as Runner Runner, we wanted to change up our “artwork” a little bit. We still love Over It, and we’re really happy with that. It was a natural progression to write this stuff. We’re letting Over It sit in the museum and at some point, when we have some free time, we’ll do more Over It stuff. We actually have some unreleased Over It songs, and there will be more written, but we’re so excited to show everyone where our songwriting has taken us. We’ll put Over It in the wine cellar for a bit and let it get nice, and then we’ll have a little champagne party down the line. You guys bring the cheese, and we’ll have a nice night. alt