By Anjelica Michael
With their debut album released and an upcoming tour with the Goo Goo Dolls, Los Angeles-based folk band Run River North has been reaching new heights of success. On April 15, the band will be stopping by Jammin’ Java for a performance. We caught up with lead sing Alex Hwang to discuss the album, the upcoming tour and the what makes them different.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming tour with the Goo Goo Dolls?
We’re looking forward to the shows with the Goo Goo Dolls. We were rehearsing with them for a week before we left, and it’s going to be an intimate and interesting show. All of the band will be playing in different capacities on the Goo’s set – from gang and harmony vocals to well known string sections to even our bassist Joe (Chun) is helping with some mandolin parts. So along with playing our own acoustic set, we get to join the Goo Goo Dolls and play some of their hits as well as stuff off their new album Magnetic.
What is your favorite song off of your debut album and why?
Everyone has different favorites, but mine personally is currently Lying Beast. The seed of the song started alongside Monsters Calling Home, but it didn’t find it’s own home until a year into the band. It’s grown so differently from what I initially imagined and, in that, it exemplifies what this band has become. It also has a lot of elements that we incorporate in our live show – quiet moments swelling to big crashes. The chorus is a wordless melody and I also love that about music – sometimes the less we try to explain, the more we end up being allowed to express.
What do you think sets your music apart from other bands?
I think that having six people in the garden of growing songs, each allowed to do anything – write lyrics, make beats, try different instruments – allows for a multitude of voices and perspective. Trying to sustain that in a healthy way, it definitely keeps things interesting about our music. We’re all immigrant kids, and the stories of home and family that we sing about are ones that we’re continuing to play out even now. At least for us, performing our music is both simultaneously cathartic and convicting, and it’s always interesting to talk to people about that after our shows. Couple weeks ago, we realized we’re all Korean, so we might be on to something there. Can’t put my finger on it yet, but we’ll get back to you.
In the article about you in The Wall Street Journal, it mentions that you are all classically-trained musicians. How do you think this impacts your music?
Actually, only two are successfully classically-trained (Jennifer Rimm and Daniel Chae). John (Chong) studied jazz in college. Having that sort of discipline and theoretical knowledge allows for a constant and necessary focus on being good musicians a huge priority. The two main ways I see it impacting our music is that our rehearsals are rigorous and demanding, and coming up with new music is always surprising and fresh.
How do you feel about coming to perform in Northern Virginia?
We’re always excited to perform where we haven’t and meet folks who we would normally never get to meet. We played down in Norfolk and have some friends in an awesome band called The Last Bison. Just looking forward to experiencing more of the state and it’s eats.