Interview: Let’em Run

Punk-bred pals with a twisted taste for gruff Americana, Let’em Run recently released I Quit! Live, a collection of punchy bluegrass and whiskey-drenched shouts dotted with mandolins, banjos, and fiddle-wielding. We talk to Let’em Run about punk roots, recording Quit, and their classically-trained background.

Select interviews will be printed in the Premium Guide Book along with CD samplers of  Brite artists given as a reward to Kickstarter backers. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte

“Three chords, songs about girls, social issues, and whiskey.” – John

You have a bit of history with each other. How did you find yourselves coming together as a band?

Our band is the best love story of all time. A long time ago in college, a few of us formed a band called All Rivers Run South, but we never played any shows or anything. Vic, Jamie and Miles [banjo, fiddle, guitar] kept it going for years and years until we were all pretty much done with school. In January of 2013, our current lineup came together and the name changed — probably for the third time — to Let’em Run. All of us, except for Vic, went to the same high school here in Cleveland, although we did know Vic through some other friends, so we’ve been getting along for a really long time. John calls it a spirit journey. We’re all really good at hanging out with each other.

A lot of you come from a punk background and influence. How does that translate and show through to bluegrass/Americana/folk? What kind of influences do you draw from?

John: Its the same damn thing. Three chords, songs about girls, social issues, and whiskey.

Shannon: John and I have only ever been able to write punk songs, and most of our music experience comes from being in punk bands. (John was in The Give and Go’s, I was in The Fucking Cops and some other bands.) The cool thing about punk songs is that if you play them on an acoustic guitar it instantly becomes a folk song. Pairing up with Vic and Jamie who are more classically-trained musicians and fully dedicated to historical accuracy — Vic will not strum his banjo, ever — gives our songs the comforting illusion of cultural legitimacy. And Miles can actually play anything.

You unleashed I Quit! Live earlier in 2013. How was that recorded and what have you been working on since?

We recorded those songs directly to tape cassette on a tiny, crappy boombox that we call The Kaboombox. The title is a joke that Miles made while we were recording, so it wasn’t really recorded at an actual show with people in attendance – we stood near this boombox on a chair, with the quieter instruments up close and the loud ones further away so it would sound okay. We spent most of the summer writing new songs and playing shows, and in the coming year we have a fun collaboration we’re looking forward to. There will probably be some more Kaboombox demos, though!

What’s been one of your most memorable gigs?

We played this show at a house called Mosh Eisley with a bunch of bands who sounded nothing like us because the headliner was called Let Me Run, and the promoter thought it would be funny to put us on too. We agreed, so we played in their living room. It was easily one of the best receptions we’ve ever had at a show and the energy was amazing. Four months later, Let Me Run broke up.

 What’s your favorite material to play live?

Miles: We have a new song called “Earth Crisis” that I enjoy playing because I get the most room to move around on the neck, and I’m not just playing rhythm.

 If you could play one place – your dream gig — where would it be?

Vic: The Grand Ole Opry kind of, but not really. I used to be a little more focused on being traditional, but now I just want to have fun.

 Whenever the band gets together, what do you listen to that always makes its way back into rotation?

Taylor Swift, Andrew W.K., and that’s it. Its like a 50/50 mix. This sounds like an insincere answer, but its completely true – we love pop music.

Keep up with Let’em Run on Facebook and stream their music on Bandcamp.