Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Twelve Bands of Christmas: Day Four - Middle Distance Runner

If you read IA with any kind of regularity, you are familiar with today's band. Middle Distance Runner has been here many time before and their craziness has always made them a site favorite. With that said, you really can't do a list of underground acts from the region and not include them. They really have been everywhere over the past few months and deserve to be a part of it. So we asked them back and like always, they brought something fresh. Is the insanity just an act or are they really certifiable? You may get an answer. They also brought along their brand new Holiday song and they are premiering a brand new remix of Out of Here.

Middle Distance Runner
Washington, DC, USA
1998 or 2005, depending on who you ask...
Stephen Kilroy, 24, Crap Office Job -- Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Erik Dean, 23, Crap Office Job -- Drums
Allan Chappelear 23, Crap Office Job -- Guitars, Keyboards, Accordions
Jay Smith, 36, Crap Office Job -- Guitars
Ian Glinka, 23, Crap Office Job -- Basses
Single and looking
2006 - Plane in Flames (Self recorded/released)
Upcoming Live Dates :
December 16, 2006 @ The Black Cat, Washington DC, USA
January 17, 2007 @ Arlene's Grocery, NYC
February 2, 2007 @ Rocks, Richmond, VA
February 3, 2007 @ TBA, Newport News, VA
February 16, 2007 @ Millennium Music Conference, Harrisburg, PA
Febraury 18, 2007 @ Trash Bar, Brooklyn, NY

How did the band form?
Our singer (Steve Kilroy), drummer (Erik Dean) and guitarist (Allan Chappelear) all went to the same high school and have been playing together for about 8 years now. Back in the day, they mainly played classic rock covers with the occasional Radiohead-inspired original tune peppered in for good measure.

Operating under the alias "Undefeated Astranoid," Middle Distance Runner started out in 1998 as just another typical high school band. Over the years, the name was changed to its current, more songs were written, and our second lead guitarist, Jay Smith, was added to the lineup in 2001. Having two distinctive lead guitars has proven to be very helpful for our sound. The way Jay and Allan play are very different, as they have much different backgrounds and influences, and it shows. Due to the nature of the effects Jay uses, people will often confuse his guitar for a keyboard when reviewing the album.

MDR never really got serious about gigging and getting their name out there until the summer of 2005, when I joined the lineup on bass guitar. They had toyed around with several bass guitar players before, but they never ended up working out long-term for various reasons. I originally moved here to start my own band with Allan, but once I heard MDR was practicing and needed someone to play bass for a while, I figured "what the hell." A couple of practices later and I didn't want to start my own band anymore.

Once all the pieces of the puzzle were together, we started playing shows and began recording what was intended to be our first EP. We got five songs recorded, and then thought ... "Let's do another one. We already have all the equipment set up. Why not?" Since we were doing the recordings on our own in Jay's basement (our practice space), time wasn't a restriction... and we were having fun, so we just kept going. We recorded another one, then another, then another, then another, and before we knew it, we had an album's worth of material. After getting the mastering, artwork and duplication taken care of, we released the album on our own accord earlier this year.

How was '06 for you?
Oh, you know ... pretty good, pretty good... We've been building up our regional fan base by gigging and making the music as available as possible. One strategy we've used a lot that has worked wonders has been standing outside the entrance of big shows and passing out home-made demo CDs to everyone as they walk out. It's not uncommon for us to hand out between 600-800 CDs in a single night. It's a horridly tedious task burning and labeling that many discs, and giving away that many CDs gets expensive, but at least people are listening to the music! Pretty much 100% (or more) of all the money we make at shows or on merch goes right back into promotion for the next show. We have a horrible business model.

It really sucks sometimes, because while a lot of our friends are out drinking on weekend nights, we're at the house making demo CDs and watching cartoons. I often ask myself "did The Strokes have to fucking do this shit?" I'm usually left with the answer "Probably not. They were rich as hell to begin with, so they (or their parents) probably just paid companies to do this crap for them. Jealous? Fuck yea, I'm jealous!" Oh well, if we bust our asses now, we can party later ... at least that's the thought process.

But yeah, we're so crazy about promoting this band, I even posted a message on my ex-girlfriend's wedding website advertising our album's availability for purchase on CD Baby. The best part is -- I haven't talked to her in years, and in fact, I still despise her quite a bit! She fooled around on me with the guy she ended up marrying. She's probably the least favorite person I've ever known. But whatever, I sure hope her family buys a CD!! At least they know where to get it now!

Anyway, as you are aware, we have also started reaching into the blogosphere for some assistance in getting our msuic out there. We're doing our best to reach out to as many blogs as possible, but there are SO FUCKING MANY of them! On top of that, ... sometimes it's hard to get the bigger blogs to listen to the album. I don't know how many emails/packages they're getting from bands like us, but I'm sure it's a lot to go through. It's tough to get on top of the pile sometimes.

Highlight of the year?
Releasing the album was the best thing we've ever been a part of musically. We're all proud of it, and happy to have something we can give to people and say "here ... take this and listen to it. we think you might actually like it! no, really take it... our gift to you. seriously, don't worry about it. dude ... what the fuck is wrong with you?? take the god damned album!"

What do you have in store for '07 (touring, albums, etc)?
We are looking to take things to the next stage ... touring more extensively, working with management and labels and all that fun (and frightening) stuff. We will most likely start recording some of our newer material at some point in '07, but the focus is definitely still on getting our debut album out there and making the biggest splash we can with what we already have.

Goal for '07 and beyond?
We would love to make enough money with the band to purchase our own island and set up an independent country. Can you still do that? Seriously, though ... we are contacting (and being contacted by) labels/PR/management companies ... so by the end of next year, we will probably have some kind of structure like that set up. No word yet on details, but we're working on it.

Plane in Flames (2006)
Up In a Tree
Man of the People
That's a Lie
Out of Here

Bonus Tracks
XMAS Party (2006 holiday single)
Out of Here (ACE's Feverish Remix)

3 favorite songs of '06?
Glossy Eyed Sweetheart by The Hard Tomorrows
Balls to the Wall by Snake and the Troublemakers
Naturally by Middle Distance Runner
Speaking in Tongues by Eagles of Death Metal
Patterns by The Hard Tomorrows
The Madness by Middle Distance Runner
That's a Lie by Middle Distance Runner
Man of the People by Middle Distance Runner
Out of Here by Middle Distance Runner
Hi Rise by Ladytron
Span the Universe by Soundpool
Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
Pussy by Brazilian Girls
Hips Don't Lie by Shakira

Favorite album of the year?
Sufjan Stevens -- Songs for Christmas (if only for the ridiculously thorough packaging)
When did OK Computer come out?
Middle Distance Runner - Plane in Flames
Too may to choose.
Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black

Best live show you saw this year?
Beck at the Black Cat Backstage -- was one of about 200 people there in a tiny, sweaty room, about 15 feet from Beck.
Death by Sexy at DC9
Middle Distance Runner anywhere
Echo and the Bunnymen.
Brazilian Girls - 9:30 club

Favorite holiday song and artist?
John Lennon - Happy Christmas (War is Over)
Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You
Middle Distance Runner - XMAS Party
The entire Danny Mathis Christmas album.

Best present you ever received
Guitar, Christmas, 1995
The Micro-Korg I get this year (Hopefully)
Train Track
Sega Genesis

Worst present you ever received?
No such thing.
The Clap! Thanks, Singapore.
Chocolate covered cherries; every year.
Two dime-sized, plastic pigs that you tossed. It was supposed to be a game, but it was just depressing.

Check out their Choose Your Own Adventure post from November

The Twelve Bands of Christmas
Day 1: Telograph
Day 2: AVEC
Day 3: The Hard Tomorrows
Day 4: Middle Distance Runner
Day 5: Thrushes
Day 6: Georgie James
Day 7: Exit Clov
Day 8: Jette-Ives
Day 9: These United States
Day 10: Cedars
Day 11: Two if by Sea
Day 12: Soft Complex

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