Absent Friend

20 February 2013 | 6:15 am | Steve Bell

“I took my time and wrote slowly, and some of the songs I demoed four or five times just by myself; I really wanted to make great music for the record, and be more melodic."

As soon as Running Gun Sound have launched their new album, Friends, in the eastern capital cities, frontman Michael Fletcher is decamping to Berlin for a life change, effectively bringing the band to a halt. At least they'll be leaving a befitting behind them farewell gift, the album a strong collection of up-tempo indie, a notable progression from theirrelatively raw beginnings.

“I think it was about 2010 that the first song emerged,” Fletcher recalls of how Friends' vibe started. “It was I Don't Want To Know, we used to practice at our house and James [Boyd – guitar/vocals] came in and said 'Oh yeah, I've got this song' – it was really simple, like nothing else we had at that point. I was, like, 'That's the start of the new album!'. Everything we'd done up until [2011 single] Beasts Of England had been more of a garage punk kind of sound, and we had more than enough songs already then to record an album, but I didn't want to make a record that was all over the place, I wanted to really write an album – what I thought was a mature record, and not just what I had lying around.

“I took my time and wrote slowly, and some of the songs I demoed four or five times just by myself; I really wanted to make great music for the record, and be more melodic. Lots of previous Running Guns songs weren't this melodic – I never really tried to write melodies and would just spit out streams of words over a vague tune – but this time I tried to put more space and instrumentation into the songs. There was a lot going on with studying full-time and touring with Velociraptor every couple of months so it took a while, but I'm glad I took my time and put the songs first. I learnt from Jeremy [Neale – drums] and James to make sure that you're really happy with things – let's not play songs that you're only half happy about just to make do, if I was going to put a song on this record it had to be the best song it could be, for me at least.”

All five members of Running Gun Sound also play in Velociraptor, and even though the bands' sounds are miles removed this shared membership still has its benefits.

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“James and I spend a lot of time together talking about music and playing records, so we know each other's strengths and preferences,” Fletcher continues. “And Jeremy's like the pop manual – it's so great having him in the band. There's no reason to confuse Running Guns with Velociraptor – they're two completely different things – but I feel like a lot of people don't see it that way, just because it's the same guys. So we're always trying to make sure that we're going in our own direction, but Jeremy's got that incredible overall pop vision and it's amazing having him around when we're working out the songs – he always gets the best out of us.”

And is Fletcher sad to be leaving Running Gun Sound behind him?

“Definitely,” he smiles. “[Friends is] probably the music from this band that we've released the best, in terms of getting it out there and getting people to hear it – we put a lot of hard work in and now I'm going to go. But whatever happens to the album I'll always have it – it's our record that we made together, and whether I'm here or in Germany I'll have the record to play, and to play to other people. Maybe it'll even get its own international second life – that's what I'm hoping.”

Running Gun Sound will be playing the following dates:

Thursday 21 February - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
Friday 22 February - The Gasometer Hotel, Collingwood VIC
Saturday 23 February - Crow Bar, Brisbane QLD