Interview: Running Red Lights

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Toronto-based band, Running Red Lights, is stirring up the indie scene with their latest EP Rose Coloured Windows. Having partnered with multi-Juno Producer Gavin Brown, won the YouDiscover concert series in 2010, and performed alongside Kardinal Offishall for 2 million viewers on ET Canada’s New Year’s celebration, this band is on the up-and-up.

We got a chance to sit down with Running Red Lights to get their take on music, life and challenges in the indie scene…

Scarlett Flynn: Vocals
Kevin Howley: Vocals/Drums
Dave Puzak: Guitar
Jeff Carter: Bass

Indie Current: For our readers who are unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe your sound?

Running Red Lights: I think if you posed the question to a variety of listeners their answers would fluctuate dramatically depending on their own musical experiences. Our sound tends to change on a constant, ongoing basis dependent on which particular inspirations are the influences of the day. However, overall our many muses seem to converge into a box that sounds similar to Fleetwood Mac. Possibly The Pretenders (in particular the guitar styling’s of the late James Honeymoon Scott).

IC: In 2010, Running Red Lights won the inDiscover Summer Concert Series. How has your music career changed since winning the competition?

RRL: Firstly, it was an absolute thrill to be acknowledged by our peers as a credible band and I will admit that winning the competition provided a much needed affirmation that gave us the muscle to keep pushing forward. If nothing else, it refueled our determination and commitment to our careers. It also gave us the courage and confidence to persevere on our own terms. (The trophy also makes for a great mantel piece and/or lethal weapon).

IC: What inspires your music?

RRL: Wine. Charles Bukowski. 4am cigarettes. Lightbulb messengers

IC: Do you have any musical influences? Idols?

Kevin: There are far too many to name in one publication but my initial gut reaction would include; The Beatles, Questlove, Jeff Buckley, D’angelo, MuteMath and John Mayer.

Scarlett: I refer to a variety of artists for inspiration dependent on my needs. Lyrically I am most influenced by Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Melodically I am influenced by Fleetwood Mac, Jim Croce, Harry Neilsson and Paul Simon. Vocally I am influenced by Stevie Nicks, Steve Perry and Dolly Parton.

Jeff: The list is vast. I started playing Jazz when I was 14 which greatly influenced me. Classic Rock. Led Zepplin (John Paul Jones), Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clark, ODB, Wu Tang, Stevie Wonder, Abba

Dave: Daniel Lanios, Bruce Cockburn, James Honeymoon Scott, Radiohead and Jeff Carter

IC: What do each of you individually bring to the table to create your sound?

RRL: It changes on a song-to-song basis. Our individual inspirations are very diverse and so in the collaboration process it’s difficult to say specifically whose voice is most present. Generally Scarlett and/or Kevin author a skeleton of some kind which Dave and Jeff then layer and shape until a rough idea becomes something resembling music. Dave is especially brilliant at labouring a very distinguishable guitar tone which has become an RRL signature. Jeff is the Song Nazi and basically controls and counteracts any wankery. Kevin is the Big Daddy with Big Ideas and Scarlett is the Spark Plug.

IC: What struggles have you had to overcome being in the Indie music scene?

Scarlett: There are a number of grievances I have with the industry that I won’t detail for fear of sounding like a big pantywaist, however, overall I think the biggest struggle is our own insecurities and apprehensions. It’s also difficult maintaining emotional endurance through all the rejection and disappointments. Facing a slamming door with dignity and a thick skin gets challenging after a while and it’s very easy to want to yield to the negativity and just give up. It’s a challenge to stand on two feet day after day and believe wholeheartedly that the path you are walking has purpose. However, I’ve been waiting for my heart to stop for 12 years and no matter however many beatings it’s taken it still seems pretty persistent that music is the one.

IC: Scarlett and Kevin, you recently got engaged! Congratulations! Care to tell readers how you went from band mates to soul mates?

Scarlett: Kevin and I became close after the dissolution of both of our relationships. We resisted each other for a while because we wanted to maintain some form of professionalism, however, as you can imagine, once we started collaborating creatively and that particular piece really connected we basically gave in and let the relationship happen. We did keep it from the band for a year and actually called a band meeting for the purpose of disclosing our relationship. Of course the other members laughed at us which made us realize we hadn’t been quite as clandestine as we thought. It’s definitely a challenge sharing every single aspect of our lives with each other on an ongoing basis; our dreams, goals, creative passions etc, however, the conversation never gets boring and how cool is it that I get to look back on stage and see my best friend and my partner backing me up?

IC: What can fans expect to see from Running Red Lights in the future?

RRL: Pyrotechnics and cone bras that shoot fire. But seriously. We’ve got an EP on deck to be released in the fall. We’ve just wrapped a video series that will be released over 6 weeks in September. We are working on a creative music video to be released in October. We are aiming to tour Canada in the winter. SO, expect to see us in a little bar somewhere in Calgary, riding the bull and rocking the shit out of some purposeful, BOSS music!

Katie Worndl

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