The local music scene in this area has always been an explosion of good times, catchy melodies, and in this case, fierce metal-inspired breakdowns. “Runner Up” is Saginaw’s latest Pop/Punk group to jump on the scene with a real bang. Although the band is very new to the setting, the band members are far from inexperienced. Nearly every member has the stage presence, plus the advantage of being in former bands from the local area. Runner Up consists of: Matt O’Neil-vocals, Jake Gray-guitar, Andrew Forsythe-guitar/vocals, Chen Flakes-drums, and Adam Couture-Bass guitar. Together the five of them step on stage to have fun, entertain local audiences, and produce a distinct pop/punk sound that has that distinctive ring of something fresh.
Late one September evening while chatting with Andrew Forsythe, Runner Up’s vocalist/guitarist, we came up with the idea of giving a deeper glimpse into this newly formed band.
This is the interview I conducted with three of the band’s members, Jake Gray, Andrew
Forsythe, and Adam Couture.
Review: Why did you guys decide to form Runner Up?
Jake Gray: Because we’re a bunch of friends who like to play music, and we wanted to do something different.
Adam Couture: I came up to Andrew one night and said, “Hey let’s start a pop/punk band!”
Andrew Forsythe: And I willingly agreed to it, because I love pop/punk.
Review: How did you guys get everyone together?
Forsythe: It was me and Adam first, then we told Jake about it, and Jake joined it.
Gray: Yeah I just wanted to be in a band (Forsythe chuckles).
Forsythe: How did we find Chen?
Couture: I think he just said that he wanted to play drums in a band, and he was down to play Pop/Punk.
Forsythe: Yeah he just wanted to sound like Blink-182 (followed by chuckles).
Couture: Then we found our vocalist Matt!
Forsythe: Yeah, Matt and Adam were already in a band together. It’s funny, because they were both doing the exact opposite in that band of what they are in this band.
Forsythe: Yeah, Matt played drums in Stars and Silhouettes and Chen was vocals, and guitar I think.
Review: So you guys have obviously been in other bands, what bands have you been in?
Gray: Yeah, I was in a band called Amelus with Andrew, and then I was in a different band called R'lyeh with a bunch of people from downstate. And they were both metal bands, so it’s a pretty big change up for me being in this band.
Review: How long have you guys been playing musical instruments?
Gray: I’ve been playing guitar for roughly four years, I started on bass for like 3 years before that.
Couture: I played piano for ten years, and guitar and bass for three years.
Review: Was Piano forced? Or you just voluntarily started?
Couture: No I just picked it up when I was like, four, and that’s why I started it.
Forsythe: I started out kind of the same way as Jake. I played bass for, probably about two years before I started playing guitar. And I’ve been playing guitar for about the same length of time, four years. And this is where it gotten me!
Review: Do you have any meanings behind your lyrics?
Forsythe: Um, I don’t think any of us really know any of the lyrics!
Gray: Well, the song titles are all sports themes, so I’m not really sure.
Couture: Somehow, out of what I’ve been able to make out of the lyrics, they’re all somehow related to girls with the sports theme in line.
Forsythe: We don’t even have a sports theme; we just have the song titles. It’s kind of funny though.
Review: Where do you intend to go with Runner Up?
Couture: Wherever it takes us!
Forsythe: Yup! As far as it can, really. Just keep playing shows and stuff.
Couture: Get the CD out eventually.
Review: Any influences?
Gray: I don’t listen to Pop/punk, so that’s all them!)
Couture: The Swellers, The Wonder Years from Philadelphia,
Forsythe: The Swellers from Flint, Fireworks from Detroit, um, Rufio, that’s another big one, Kid Liberty from Texas, Title Flight, that’s about it.
Couture: BMD! (The Black Dahlia Murder).
Forsythe: Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse, and Brain Drill!
Gray: Maybe BMD, but not any of those other bands that they said.
Forsythe: If you notice, we have a very big metal influence in our riffs sometimes. We have riffs that are metal. Kids like it though; we just got positive feedback from our first show. Nothing negative at all. But that’s really it for our influences.
Review: Is there anything behind the name “Runner Up”?
Couture: You made it up, Andrew, so…
Forsythe: I came up with the name “Runner Up”. I saw it on some girl’s Facebook status and I thought “Oh that might be cool!”.
Review: Is there anyone that you guys really relied on to get the band in motion?
Couture: Well Chen got us all together so we have a practice space.
Forsythe: Yeah he has a P/A.
Gray: Yeah has the P/A, he gave Adam his bass rig. He wouldn’t have one if it weren’t for Chen. I use one of Chen’s guitar cabs. He has a lot of stuff and he books us on some shows that he’s on.
Forsythe: We actually have a list of some pretty good shows coming up.
Couture: Andrew got us a trailer.
Forsythe: Yeah my trailer from previous bands.
Couture: I wrote most of the music
Gray: And I’m just here!
Forsythe: Yeah! Jake’s just here to play guitar (followed by more laughter from Forsythe)!
Review: Is there a dream location you guys would love to play?
Couture: The Joe-Louis Arena!
Gray: The Dow Event Center, I would love to get that big, that would be sweet. Most of the places we want to play are mostly downstate, There’s not a lot of good venues around here.
Forsythe: We’ve pretty much played all the prevalent places around here. Jake and me have played Jamestowne Hall, The Loft a few times. And then there are just houses and such where people hold shows. Just smaller things like that. I’d love to play the Magic Stick in Detroit, which would be amazing.
Couture: Club 789, some places in Grand Rapids.
Review: Any other input?
Couture: We’re recording soon, maybe.
Forsythe: We’re recording soon, booking shows, whatever we can get! I’ve been talking to Chen about having some Merchandise soon.
Review: Can you guys see the band together in the next few years?
Gray: I do, yeah!
Forsythe: I’ve thought about that before, I can definitely see us staying together and playing for a while.
Gray: We have to see where it goes, you know? Just go with the flow. None of us have the mentality that we’re going to get huge off of it and be able to make a living out of it. We just want to play shows and have fun.
Forsythe: The thing is, we’re all in it for fun. This is what we love to do and music is the biggest part of our lives pretty much. We’re just amped on playing shows and booking more shows! I think the band will last quite a while.