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Interview with Surgenor's Runeii
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I loved music from a very young age, I loved the music my Dad listened to - The Beatles, The Eagles, Steely Dan, ELO etc looking back now, I loved a melody, a strong melody, and all the above were masters of that.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I watch loads of documentaries, I'm fascinated with history and even the movies I watch will have some historical themes. I love reading too, Nick Hornby is my
absolute favourite, he loves his music and sport too. I am a keen football fan, I used to be a season ticket holder at York City and also have a love for Scottish minors,
Stenhousemuir. I guess the influences from all these non music activities come from a specific scene in a film, written words from the books I read and meeting people at football games and learning about them as people…. Its fascinating really
How long has your band been around? Also, please tell me about the dynamic of the band of what brought you all together.
I've been in bands for over 35 years but Runeii is a collective of people I have brought together in the past 18 months. These are people who I have met on the music scene who have made an impact on me , whether that be their musicianship/vocal ability, if we connect on a personal level, if we share the same musical taste. I am blown away with the band, I honestly couldn’t have picked better
. They have reimagined my songs and brought them into the 2020’s. I didn’t tell any of them what to do, I played them some guides or old recordings and said where I thought the song should go, but I let them deliver their own interpretation. The result was beyond what I expected. I am very privileged to have them on board and call them my friends.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music? I am based in York, in North Yorkshire. Several other members of the band are also from York but Kirsty and Lauren are based in London. George is Harrogate, Tim is Leeds, Alex is Macclesfield so we are pretty well spread out…. I can't think of many York bands other than Shed 7 and Skylights. I actually grew up in Essex and went to school with Keith Flint from The Prodigy but I was never a fan !
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Runeii is actually a track from the last album of one of my all time favourite bands,
Talk Talk. Apparently it means laughing stock which the band are not overly enamored with but I love it. I have never taken myself seriously and always felt a
little insecure in my own abilities. We also use the butterfly image on all our artwork and that is also heavily influenced from Talk Talk.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
That's not hard as we have only done 1 to date !! We did an album launch at a venue called the NCEM in York in December 2022 and this is a converted church and the most amazing, soulful venue. We played the album in its entirety to around
100 people and it just worked so well. We do have a couple of gigs booked this summer though in York again and in Essex which we are really looking forward to and we go into rehearsals next week.
What is your favourite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I'm very lucky as I've been playing keys with Skylights for the past three years. We have played some amazing venues but Millennium Square in Leeds to 6000 was pretty special. We also played King tuts in Glasgow and The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen and these were pretty cool too.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket? If you mean as a support artist to any band then it would have to be The Beatles or Talk Talk, if you mean who I would play with in a band then it would be with Jeff Lynne, John Lennon, Donald Fagan, Don henley and Tom Petty at Wembley
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self? Get input from everyone, you don’t have to take full control yourself. There is always one guy who heads up a band and that's fine but you need to gain everyone's input and that is what will make your sound unique and collaborative. And secondly - enjoy every moment of playing live, whether it be to 4 people and the bar staff or 6000 at Millennium Square - enjoy it for what it is.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That's a great question - it changes frequently but I do love Butterfly Man. Chord wise, it's very simple but lyrically, it's one of my strongest. It reflects on me as a 20
something year old guy who is looking for love but doesn't really know how to play it and so tries to become the perfect man. But then I love Trees (our first single) which I altered the lyrics too in the verse as I was on the train to Glasgow going to see
Coldplay last year. The song has just the best disco groove (which was not how it was back in 1993 when I wrote it) and the lyrics are so poignant today.
Which songs are your favourite to play and which get requested the most?
Trees is great to play live but I also love playing a track called Disappear , which has a real lazy, moody, jazz feel to it, like a Crusaders tune and it sounds so good live
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
So most of the songs we play are from what I have written over the past 35 years. The most recent song on the album was written in 2020 as a B side to a charity single but we re-recorded it with Runeii last year. My MD is a guy called Sam Johnson who is a musical genius. We provided guide tracks in his home studio of the tempo, a rough bass line, a paint chord structure and the vocal. We then sent this out to the band before we went into Bakerland Studios in Leeds to give them the body of the song and we let them come up with their own interpretation. Incredibly we were all the same way of thinking and Tim (engineer and producer) added to this with his own thoughts and ideas and captured something very special. My inspiration came/ comes from an event, a person, a girlfriend, myself. There is always subject matter and I can tell you what every son I have written and recorded is about, where I was and what prompted me to write it. In music, I always start with a chord progression then add a bass line. The melody will always follow.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music? Nothing political or opinionated, I love nature and animals and have written several songs about whales/dolphins, Trees etc. I write about personal experience, songs about specific people , situations, relationships, the usual stuff. I'm not sentimental ( I don’t think) but I can get quite deep into how I was feeling but tried to disguise the tree's meaning by making the lyrics a little vague. The subject matter is not always obvious.
Do you have any new singles, videos, or albums out that you would like to tell me and your fans about?
Butterfly Man, our second single was released on August 4th 2023 and is accompanied with a video. This is on all streaming platforms now. The album, which is called; The Butterfly Man, is scheduled for release at the end of August which features 8 tracks and will be available on Vinyl, CD and online and we have also recorded a stripped back version of Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield which we will put out in September .
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We have two gigs, as I mentioned, coming up this summer;
On Thursday 31st August, we are playing at The Basement Bar in York, full band, 3 piece Horn line, album played in full plus some a few quality covers
And then on 29th September, we are playing at The Basement in Chelmsford,
Essex, no horn line for this one but it will still sound great. We have plenty of merch
to sell too!! T shirts, hoodies, beanie hats, badges plus the CD and Vinyl copies of the album… very exciting…
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
We have a presence on Facebook, instagram, Twitter and YouTube and we are slowly building these up. Just search Surgenor’s Runeii and you will find us.
Many Thanks - Great questions :) Ian Surgenor