California band Run River North is will be at the Entry next week opening for Rooney. You may recall their single “Run and Hide” from last summer. We had a chance to talk with Alex Hwang. Some tickets are still available HERE.
TCM: Hi Alex, thank you for taking time to talk to us at 9AM on a Monday – for a rock band, that’s a pretty impressive commitment.
Alex Hwang: (laughs) I am up till 3 or 4 AM, but I love the mornings, so you got me at a good time.
TCM: RUN RIVER NORTH is about to head out on another tour supporting Rooney. 37 towns in 45 days in mid-summer. Is the band ready? Is the van ready?
AH: The van is almost ready, we have to figure out a couple of things. That’s a big question for us, we have to set up a game system in the car or we’re going to go crazy. But the band, is ready. We have a bunch of new stuff that we want to test out, since we just got back from a tour and we want to figure out why people would want to come see us again. We got a lot of new stuff that we want to share, and we’re excited for that.
TCM: RUN RIVER NORTH released “Superstition” in January, I just listened to it and the band seemed more adventurous, more rocking on it.
AH: We are just trying to have fun on stage. We were figuring out what that looks like, and trying to do that authentically on an album. I think that changes as we keep growing up. So definitely a bit more rock every single time.
TCM: “Drinking from a Salt Pond” took you from “folksy” into more indie rock. Was that a natural feeling transition or was a bit of pushing involved?
AH: I think it was a pretty natural growth. We had come back from a couple of tours, and were not having as much fun on stage. We could tell our relationships were on the fray. It felt like we wanted to shout at each other. Making music was a good, healthy space to shout at each other, and it came out on “Drinking from a Salt Pond”. Luckily, we stuck around for it. It was very natural. It was like do I really want to be in a van with you, and what would it take to make this a fun time.
TCM: Being cooped up in van for a long time must put a stress test on relationships.
AH: True, if it wasn’t for this band… I feel like it made me a better husband. I just got married last year. It helps to figure out, when to pick your battles, and if you don’t have any privacy how to find time for yourself in order to be a better person. Being on tour is a good practice for actual relationships.
TCM: RUN RIVER NORTH is a Korean-American band. When we covered your show at the Triple Rock, many in the audience were Asian American. Have you noticed a connection to Asian communities in areas that do not see a lot of diversity in rock bands?
AH: Honestly, some of our best shows happen in places where we have no idea that there even is one Asian person. It is refreshing because people or coming for our music, it doesn’t register that we are Asian, and whether that matters or not. It really interesting when you find out that there is a pocket of diversity, but they don’t really have an outlet. We have played a couple of shows where fans have not been to a rock show, or even that part of town. When someone has the same face as them, all of a sudden it draws people into the community, brings them out and makes them feel part of the larger community. And if we can do that, in a small way, it’s pretty refreshing, and it great to kinda have that in our bags of tricks, that we can connect with a part of the population that normally don’t vibe with the kind of acts coming through town. It’s worth talking about.
TCM: Preparing for this interview I came across the story how RUN RIVER NORTH (known back then as Monsters Calling Home) recorded a video in a Honda and then was invited by Honda to play a gig that surprisingly turned out to be Jimmy Kimmel live. What went through your mind at that point?
AH: Oh man, they did such a good job of tricking us that we had no idea. We knew that they were doing something but not that that was going to be the trick. It really was literally across the street. We didn’t put 2 and 2 together, so when Jennifer cried, those were real tears. Luckily for us it happened so fast that we did not have time to get in our heads that we were going to be on national TV. It was wild, it was great. It felt like a firework in our career. You just see it, and it’s so bright, and has so much impact, and you feel it immediately, and you have no time to think about it. No time to rationalize it, so you kind of just experience it. It was one of the most impactful moments of my life.
TCM: If RUN RIVER NORTH was to rob a bank…….as you run out, jump into your car, and ride off into the sunset. What would your getaway song be?
AH: Currently, I’m really digging “Feel it still” by Portugal the Man. And embarrassingly I’m just getting into Pink Floyd right now so I’m just beginning to enjoy the long ride of music in there.
TCM: Anything else you would like your fans to know before your show on the 23rd?
AH: Hopefully, if you do come by you will hear some new stuff that we have been tinkering around with. It won’t be polished but it will be something that keeps pushing the needle and keeps pushing the conversation to different places. It will be kind of uncomfortably, fun – come with an open mind to the show.
TCM: Alright, thank you so much for your time Alex. We look forward to seeing you next week.