Learning to fight for the ones you love and the things you care about.
This album is a result of the band holding it together through two near breakups in the year 2015.
Following a lengthy year of touring in 2014, Run River North was at a breaking point.
END OF TOUR / December ’14
We had just finished our first and only headlining national tour for our debut album. Despite a lot of great memories, great shows and meeting so many new fans, selfishly and personally — all I took away from the tour was Joe watching football on his phone during one of our shows and not wanting to be in the same band as Daniel.
I actually thought we had come off a good last leg of tour. We were learning how to tour better, learning each other’s ticks and habits, learning how to conserve energy and pass the time on the road.
That was just me ignoring real issues beneath the surface.
We had a little bit of a break ahead since the new year was upon us.
We got through our last show in Denver, but I had a feeling that we were going to have a “we need to talk” type of band meeting. We needed to.
BACK FROM TOUR / January ’15
Run River North finished their last leg of their first national tour and came home to a break for the holidays.
Honestly I had been doing the bare minimum in the band. Play bass and go home. Alex wanted to meet up and I told him that music wasn’t my passion. I never wanted to be at practice. I was sick of our first album.
I promised I would stay for the next album and do my best to carry my weight, but I was not sure if it would carry on to a third or fourth album.
I talked to Joe and Sally separately after tour to confront them about their roles in the band. Everyone in the band gets an equal share and it seemed like people weren’t pulling their weight. Their responses were apologetic, saying that they would try harder, but also that Daniel was a part of their own frustrations in the band. I didn’t see it then, but I see now that
I was just looking for more reasons to validate my wanting not to be friends with Daniel and making Joe’s and Sally’s frustrations with him the final excuse to push him out of the band.
I remember we decided to have a band meeting after tour.
I remember it was one of the most uncomfortable settings to be put in.
I was tired of it all.
All the responsibilities that were building up:
- dealing with family issues and the emotional/physical stability of one band member,
- impatiently and unsuccessfully covering the musical talents of another,
- hearing story after story of frustration of one band member from others,
- convincing another band member (and myself) that this is the group of people that deserve to be here, and then on top of that,
- feeling the burden to write the next batch of songs that we were going to make a living off of with the originally agreed equal split six ways (after management, agency, label, business management, lawyer and publishing cuts).
I decided to put all of this frustration unfairly on my broken friendship with Daniel.
I didn’t want Daniel in the band. At the time, we had such contrasting perspectives when it came to finances, priorities, relationships, etc., that we would always bump heads. I was also affected by things from a past band we were in.
I thought that if I simply stated that we weren’t really friends this past year and that I couldn’t see myself being able to write songs with someone who I wasn’t friends with, that he would want to leave the band. I told this in front of the rest of the band during a band meeting.
It was pretty fucking awkward.
I am not the best with confrontation so the harsh words going around the room made me cringe.
I was just so overwhelmed with everyone in the band and he was the easy target and this seemed like the easy solution to some of my problems. But he didn’t storm out, he didn’t leave.
We took some time off but decided to talk through our own personal problems outside of the band environment.
Because there was a lot of resentment, it was very easy for me to vote to kick him out if it came down to a vote.
As uncomfortable as it was, I felt like all of it was appropriate. I knew letting it all out was better than storing things inside, letting it become this monster that eats you up. As things were being addressed and one person would attack another in the band, one thing I promised myself was that I wouldn’t choose a side. I could agree with some of the things that people said, but I didn’t want those 2–3 issues to define that person as a whole.
Alex simply said he didn’t want to make new music with someone he couldn’t stand. I felt like my world was crashing down. I was stunned. I remember sitting there stoically, but inside
I was absolutely crushed. Every part of me wanted to storm out of the room, but I thought it was important to keep my ass in that chair.
Inside, my mind was racing with all kinds of thoughts and emotions. I was pissed. I couldn’t stand the thought of Alex. I couldn’t be in the same room as him. I distinctly remember on a couple of occasions Alex would walk into a crowded room and I would just book it. I thought of all the sacrifice, the cushy finance job and full benefits I left, the arguments with my parents about being a musician, the months and years on tour.. all of it.
I was pissed that the rest of the band was not fighting for me, that they were totally okay with the way this was going down. It was overwhelming.
But, I knew we had to just lay everything out and find some kind of starting point, so I sat there and took it. I felt hopeless, but in my frantic searching for a solution, I suggested we meet with our pastor to try and work it out.
Our pastor facilitated that first conversation. It went a lot better than I think we both expected. At the end of it all, there was a small voice in my head that said two things.
- forgive him and ask for his forgiveness, and
- he’s going to be in the band.
I really hated this voice because I just wanted one of those things. The forgiveness part seemed doable,
but I wish I could just do that once and never have to see him again.
And I think that was the Jesus part of that small voice — telling me that the fruit of our forgiveness will be seen in our continued relationship rather than a parting of ways.
I had no idea at the time but this would shape the next year and begin the themes of the next album. It wasn’t about forgive and forget, but forgive and keep giving, keep sticking around.
All of these fcking meetings were so damn awkward. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. The second meeting did go well though, and I was glad we were both willing to try.
I still didn’t want to work with Daniel at this point. Though he’s talented and added a lot in this band, I didn’t think it was worth it. He did mention though that he went through a lot in the last couple of months outside the band, and that he was trying to change.
AFTERMATH / (January ’15 — February ’15)
At the time we had a lockout in Van Nuys we had pre-paid three months for. The room was just sitting there, we had already moved all our stuff in, and it didn’t make sense for it to go to waste. So, we met to rehearse. I figured what the hell, I’m gonna show up regardless of how anyone else felt. I give Alex a lot of credit for simply showing up.
Moving into the Van Nuys space was interesting.. the space was no bigger than a bathroom, so we uncomfortably stood very close to each other, face to face.
For me when we work on music, it becomes a very effective bandage to cover up any existing wounds. I’m a “work with what you got” type of person. I guess I was able to look past this tension and try to write the best songs.
At this point, we had “Anthony” and “Seven” in the bag and the band was definitely moving in a different direction sonically.
SALT POND / (February ’15)
We were at rehearsal and Alex asked if we wanted to hear a song he was working on.
I had the first two lines written in my journal from a year ago —
“Say what you want, call it what you will. Follow the herd or swallow the pill”
It started as my little critique on religion, putting the devil’s mask on and poking at church people. As I continued writing the song though, my frustrations with Daniel materialized into an angry and accusatory finger that ended up pointing right back at me. I wasn’t thinking about writing a pop song or some catchy chorus, I just wanted to put a melody to the mixed bag of emotions I was holding — anger, frustration, guilt, apathy, hypocrisy, etc.
He softly played it on his acoustic, delicately.
You sound absurd even if youre right. Take your step back from me..
Don’t wanna hear another word from you. Hold your breath, I’ll hold mine too
I knew the words were about me and again I wanted to storm out. But I just sat there because the honesty and his vulnerability in that moment was transcendent.
The room froze, everyone looking down at their feet as we listened.
I usually don’t listen to lyrics first, but when Alex played “Salt Pond” for the first time, there was a different spirit and energy behind it. It was refreshing to hear.
Even though all of us were going through all sorts of emotions during that time, we chose to shut up and lend our ears to listen. In this moment I realized that there was forgiveness, there was hope, and there was love.
Salt Pond is one of those songs that leaves you speechless. The honesty and depth that the lyrics and melody conveyed really moved me and I think a lot of us were able to take something different away after listening to it.
This was definitely a special moment. We now had three songs, and there was a unique energy. Desperate, but positive. It just made sense to keep writing.
DRINKING FROM A SALT POND / (February ’15 — March ’15)
A lot of exciting things were happening in this lockout. Alex, Daniel, Joe, and I were really pushing the limits of Run River North. What we were doing wasn’t anything new for every other band, but it felt fresh for us. This freshness, along with the openness to explore, gave me the push to just focus on the music.
We poured so much out into songwriting. It was still awkward as hell, but there was an openness and freshness to the process. We met to write every single day. I remember feeling so physically drained every day after our songwriting sessions. There was a glimmer of hope.
The new batch of songs was a turning point for me.
I felt like there was more freedom for me to express my emotions through my parts. I actually enjoyed creating and jamming with the band.
As we kept writing, recording demos and rehearsing, I felt more of a confidence to do what I could and be proud of what I put down.
We practiced in our small rehearsal space for hours, and I was honestly in such awe and surprised at how hard everyone was working. The new batch of songs that were birthed in that small rehearsal space was the hope I had for this band. Our new music felt like it was shifting the band into an unfamiliar setting; some sort of feeling that was new. I don’t know, it’s something I can’t describe verbally.
Out of nowhere in a matter of weeks, we wrote like thirteen songs that sounded amazing. Lyrically the songs felt fresh. I liked them because they were honest and musically we were venturing into new territory that felt authentic — darker and heavier in tone.
I don’t discredit the turmoil and hardship we went through. This album would not exist without it.
EPILOGUE / (now)
The songs written during this period would go on to make up most of the songs on the Run River North’s 2016 album, “Drinking From A Salt Pond”.
When we got back from our 2014 headlining tour, I promised myself that I didn’t want to be in a van with the same songs and the same people the next time we go on tour. Oddly enough, we’ve picked up a sound guy, we’re renting a silghtly larger van and even though it’s the same group, none of us are the same people we were in 2014. Oh, and we have an entire album of new songs that we’re proud to be bringing out on the road.
I took some time to think about things, and wanted to really work past this tension and situation. During this time, I had come to forgive Daniel for the past. What’s awesome about Daniel is that all the while I was giving him a mild cold shoulder, he received it all and pushed back even harder to try and love me.
We all have our own faults, including myself, and it’s easy to point the finger at someone else. But because of this band, I’ve learned a lot about myself. The real challenge for me is when to hold onto or let go of my own convictions.
I do see the ramifications from what we went through this past year, and am curious to see how it’ll affect this album cycle and beyond. I like to take a step back though, and realize that most bands and organizations go through similar or worse trials. It makes me feel like we’re on the right track.
I really went from the lowest of lows, to ending up with basically gold — an album I poured out so much into, and something I couldn’t be more proud of.
Getting through this has definitely strengthened our relationships with each other and made us better people.
- Fight for the ones you love. If you love them, fight for them, even though it may make no sense at all. This band is absolutely worth fighting for.
- The shit will hit the fan. It’s inevitable. WHEN IT DOES, look at it in the face and accept it for what it is. Even in crappy circumstances, you will eventually find your way out of the mud and you’ll come out stronger. You might just come out with something amazing.
- Even good relationships are messy. It’s normal, so fight FOR your relationships.
“The good life is built with good relationships”.
I am so proud of each and every person in this band for putting in their energy, time, and effort into making this record. Whatever people might say about this new album coming out, I am proud of it. All of it.
All in all, I think conflict is something that can help relationships grow stronger. I have no doubt that this album, tour, and year will be full of growing experiences that will keep us steadfast in our commitment to each other.
Run River North’s sophomore album “Drinking From a Salt Pond” will be released February 26.