Despite the fact that their self-titled debut LP doesn’t drop until February 25th (on Nettwerk Records), Run River North have already accumulated a bevy of accolades, including being shortlisted at Cannes and gaining over 1.5 million YouTube hits. Over the summer, shortly after first getting signed to Nettwerk, vocalist/guitarist Alex Hwang took some time to chat with me about the band’s brief history, in addition to where they’re hoping to be heading. On the band’s career highlights thus far, Hwang tells me “Probably, collectively, getting onto Jimmy Kimmel, touring with Anberlin, and then, more recently, getting signed to Nettwerk.”
The San Fernando Valley-based sextet are currently producing an aggressive brand of indie pop, indebted to the folk tradition that their debut EP rung of, but bursting with far more energy. Their sound incorporates both electric and acoustic guitars, in addition to violins. Run River North’s first full-length was produced by Phil Ek, a critically renowned producer, engineer, and mixer, best known for his work with Built to Spill, Fleet Foxes, and The Walkmen. Hwang tells me that he thinks Ek deserves some of the credit for getting Run River North to the sound of their upcoming release.
“He’s stretched us and pushed us to be better than we ever had been. He brought out some of the big, epic sounds. He’s helped to make us bigger than we’d ever been. As kind of amateurs, as we were all still relatively young when the band started, we couldn’t get the biggest sounds we wanted, around all the great vocal harmonies and the violin. Recording has been the hardest thing to do and figure out who we are, as a band. We were naïve and thought we could just go in for a month and knock out an album, which isn’t really how it works.”
When I ask if Run River North have any particularly profound influences, Hwang tells me that it varies to a great degree between members.
“Personally, The Lion King has been a big inspiration. It was just a big part of my childhood… For our drummer, it’s bands like The Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons, and Deathcab… Our bassist could care less and he’s into Tenacious D and he doesn’t know what Pitchfork is.”
Although Run River North doesn’t currently have any live dates on the books, Hwang tells me that they’re hoping to be on the road in the near future: “We’re just hoping to be touring and playing outside of LA, sharing our story with as many people as possible. We have a lot of fun onstage. We are very intentional about how we set up every show and we really appreciate every show we’ve gotten to play so far.”