Straylight Run discuss 6 albums that influenced their early years
Last year, the much-missed Straylight Run released the live album Straylight Run Live At The Patchogue Theatre (recorded in 2005 but never released) as a Bandcamp exclusive to raise money for Feeding America, and the band's classic lineup also reunited for the first time in over 10 years to play three songs (including an Elvis Costello cover) on Riot Fest's livestream. Now, the album is getting an expanded, wide release on vinyl, CD, and digital formats on September 17 via Craft Recordings. Pre-order yours here.
The album features live versions of songs that were originally featured on their 2004 self-titled debut album and 2005 Prepare to Be Wrong EP (both of which you can read about in our Straylight Run album guide), and in celebration of the release, guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and drummer Will Noon spoke to us about six albums that influenced the band in their early days. Here's what they had to say:
Ben Folds Five - Whatever And Ever Amen
When Straylight Run started I remember people comparing us to Ben Folds Five. I would brush off the comparison because it felt overly simplistic. And while I still don’t think our sound is very similar, their album Whatever And Ever Amen was definitely an influence on me. It made playing piano seem as cool as playing guitar. It inspired me to learn more than the very basics of piano and to start using it in my song writing. [John]
Modest Mouse - This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
When Straylight Run started recording demos, the only official band members were Shaun and I. I’d been doing home recordings with a four track and a sampler and had recorded some songs with arrangements that we wouldn’t need a full band to recreate. One of those songs was "It’s For The Best." I built the song from a backwards piano loop and a sample of a short section of drum beat from the very end of "Dramamine" by Modest Mouse. When we recorded the full length, Will played the beat and we looped his playing to simulate a sample. He also played other beats that we brought in and out. Sometimes they were layered on top of each other and other times they took over. [John]
Radiohead - Kid A
When Kid A came out I was amazed and confused by it. I spent a lot of time listening to it and trying to figure out what they were doing. It would take years before I even attempted to bring any of those sounds into our music. When we recorded Prepare To Be Wrong I was ready to try and recreate some of the ambient guitar and synth sounds and weird electronic drums. I think you can hear it most in "Hands In The Sky" and "I Don’t Want This Anymore." We even used a Kaoss Pad on Michelle’s voice on "Later That Year." It was the same effect Radiohead used on Thom Yorke’s voice in "Everything In It’s Right Place." [John]
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Like most of the albums on this list, I don’t think any of what we did actually sounds that similar. But this album and these others gave me something to aspire to and some kind of creative inspiration. When I first heard Yankee Hotel Foxtrot I was really drawn to the way the songs combined pop sensibility with surprising, sometimes dissonant and challenging arrangements. It’s a combination I tried to aim for with Straylight Run and I think am continuing to try for even now. [John]
Billy Joel - Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2
The first two volumes of Billy Joel’s greatest hits were released as a double CD in the '80s. Growing up when I did on Long Island it seemed like literally everyone owned it. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of his music. Even in high school when you’d expect Billy Joel to seem incredibly uncool, my friends and I still loved him. It’s hard to say how this affected Straylight Run’s music, but everyone in the band was from Long Island and had a similar experience with Billy so the influence has to be there. [John]
Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism
I think this album is one of the few that sat fairly center in the venn diagram of our collective musical tastes. They seemed to blend both songwriting and production that straddled the worlds of pop and indie... Things that felt natural and familiar for our pasts and presents. Whether real or perceived, I think we may have felt they were also able to keep a personal feel on the record from Chris Walla producing the band's own records.
(Not sure if it’s worth mentioning that this record was stuck in the CD player of our van after our accident.) [Will]
Pre-order the live album here and stream its version of "Existentialism on Prom Night" and view the artwork and tracklist below.
No word on if Straylight Run have plans for a real-life reunion show, but John and Shaun have some Taking Back Sunday shows coming up. John also recently released the debut EP by Fuckin Whatever, his new psychedelic supergroup with Adam Lazzara and Anthony Green.
UPDATE: Straylight Run are reuniting to open Taking Back Sunday's holiday shows at NJ's Starland Ballroom.
2. Mistakes We Knew We Were Making
3. Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs
4. It's For The Best
5. The Perfect Ending
6. Another Word For Desperate
7. Sympathy For The Martyr
8. The Tension And The Terror
9. Now It’s Done
10. Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)
11. Dignity and Money
12. It Never Gets Easier
13. Later That Year
14. Hands In the Sky (Big Shot)
15. A Slow Descent
16. Existentialism On Prom Night