We are honored to have Alternative Pop Rock band The Runner Up as the newest member of the 80/20 family! In fact, we’re so excited that we’re dropping their new single Somebody on June 14th.
Come celebrate with us at their album release show at Valley Bar on June 29th.
About The Runner Up:
The Runner Up (TRU) is an electrifying alternative rock band from Phoenix, Arizona who have spent the last year setting local stages on fire with their energetic performances, and pumping up the airwaves with consecutive singles showing off their unique mix of indie rock and guitar pop hooks. They are reportedly dedicated to making you sing hooks for days and dance until your butt falls off–which is not far from the mark. While their singles and recordings have garnered an impressive online following, it’s their performances that keep packing venues with throngs of fans who know every lyric to every song.
Known for high energy originals, these five eccentric lads gone mad have kicked up the notch on what it means to be Indie Rock in Phoenix. Not only re-introducing lost artifacts like the Keytar to their performances, they cultivate the notion that a captivating performance is nearly as important as raw talent and stellar musicianship. The Runner Up have seemingly approached all three with equal attention and affection. When they released their debut single in April 2018, “I Came To Play” it was something of a revelation to local listeners–a refreshing single that invoked rock’n’roll as much as it did power pop. It was a master stroke that immediately caught the attention of local music media and alternative radio–in no time at all they built a loyal following who supports them at show after show.
The Runner Up started three years ago when much of the core of the group were working at the same tech company in Scottsdale, AZ. Soon to be frontman Rusty Nail met drummer Jason through mutual work acquaintances–they hit it off immediately, talked endlessly about music and left with the musician’s cliche, “We should jam sometime.” In this case though, the cliche actually came to fruition. Rusty was hesitant and skeptical when he presented songs he described to Jason as “Gnarls Barkley dressed in Bowie Costumes” but he was immediately impressed with his talent as they ran through them. Jason nailed it–he was killer on drums. At that point Rusty believed there may be a project lurking around the corner.
Soon they met Anthony, main bassman and rhythmical brother to Jason on stage and record ever since. Everything was vibing well and coming up aces, they found a good guitarist to round out the lineup, but something was still missing. When their company decided to make a huge production out of the annual talent show, Rusty met keyboard maestro Zander after his impromptu band won the competition in the midst of Rusty smashing a guitar on the stage in the finale. The man who brought along his keytar was convinced he had to “be in a band with that dude.” They have since found the unwieldy, guitar talents of Ben who seems to be the final icing on the cake of this perfect lineup.
And after thousands of hours of work, practices, and many shows later it becomes clear that it is the perfect lineup for The Runner Up. Their set is tight, their sound is neatly orchestrated, and Rusty’s dance moves are very nearly choreographed–seriously that boy’s got moves. While admittedly inspired by a cheeseball, over the top ’80s vibe, the band knows how to reign it in just enough so that they never become too comical–they clearly came to play and to entertain, which is something they never fail to do.
Rusty Nail describes The Runner Up’s music as alternative pop rock. That’s a pretty generic moniker for a sound that’s simply and soulfully unique. While they easily compare to a blend of Maroon 5, Muse, Young the Giant, they also evoke Queen, The Darkness and Manic Street Preachers. The crowd gets into the dancing at every show, but there’s a rock edge to be found around every danceable hook. In an interview with Voyage Phoenix Magazine, Rusty dissected their sound, saying, “There’s always this battle you’re fighting with songwriting where you want it to be accessible enough and easy to digest but you also want it to have that shredding solo, that drum fill, that polyrhythm, that diminished chord, or whatever to give yourself that feeling of artistic merit or street cred, whatever you want to call it. Plus it’s got to be natural, and you have to really like it. Throw all that in the blender with not really wanting to take yourself all that seriously, too, and you have the margarita that is The Runner Up. It’s a funny concept when you think about it, and you just gotta have fun at the end of the day. And we do.”
The truth is The Runner Up is feel good music for dark times and it couldn’t be more necessary than right now. A lot of this can be found in their performances, Rusty Nail’s over the top, electrifying stage personality is one of the most commanding and engaging performances available in the music scene today, the band harnesses lightning across a tight eclectic set that ranges from brilliant originals like “I Came To Play,” “Somebody” and “Pills” to fantastic covers of Toto’s ” Hold The Line! Love Isn’t Always On Time” and the insanely entertaining “My Prerogative” from Bobby Brown. You can try resisting the urge to dance to The Runner Up, but it’s not recommended.
Their talent and performance chops have led to them performing at some of the best shows of the last year, including the tour kick off for label mates Bear Ghost, St. Patrick’s Day celebration with epic local legends The Black Moods, Apache Lake Music Festival, Sidepony Express Music Festival, an incendiary set for the last ever Saturday night at the Rogue Bar, and the debut Humdinger Festival at Mesa Amphitheatre.
On June 29th The Runner Up will release their self-titled debut EP on 80/20 Records, filled with single after single to spread the gospel of TRU across the airwaves and music platforms everywhere. At this point there seems to be no stopping The Runner Up, they are a band who rocks hard, plays harder, takes risks, and never takes themselves too seriously, which is the key to their success as a band and as people. Rusty said it best when explaining the philosophy of the band’s name, “Challenges and failures make us into who we are and help us strive to be better than we were before through that adversity. So at times, it is necessary to be the runner up and not always win all the time. That’s what our name means to me.” Maybe we should all strive to be a bit more like The Runner Up!