Most bands since the dawn of rock, have started out in one of two ways. Either they are a group of like-minded friends from school or uni with a dream of being rock stars, or someone puts an ad in the papers for musicians. There is a third way, which involves a certain TV show, but that’s really only glorified karaoke, and doesn’t make any significant contribution to the rock genre.
The Rum Runners fall into the second group, total strangers who came together following an advertisement, “It was a classic case of musicians looking for a new project through a few wanted ads, we met for a jam, we had a total blast, It was one of those rare moments you get when everything gels instantly, we weren't going to let that go. Since then we’ve been writing and playing together as much as possible”.
Based in Edinburgh, and with a common love of classic rock, the band recently had a successful weekend of shows supporting Anchor Lane to showcase their debut EP ‘Embers’, “We've had some great opportunities over the last year getting to support the likes of Chuck Mosley (Faith No More), Bernie Torme (Ozzy Osbourne), and most recently Glasgow newcomers Anchor Lane, we are looking to build on that success and get our name on the top of those bills".
Two years in the making, the new EP is an easy listening, well written four track rock and roll power charger, “We felt [the EP] showcased the best of the songs we had written over the previous 2 years,” explained Rum Runners, “we had produced a few demos beforehand but felt they were lacking a little finesse. Next thing we know Will went on an epic riff writing spree and we went about honing the arrangements through extensive jam sessions. by the end we had chosen the final four which seemed to have a nice theme of love, loss and new beginnings. Embers seemed to fit nicely into that theme, it also helped convey what we wanted to do as a band, carrying the torch from what came before but with a new lease of life”.
For a three piece band, the sound from these guys is big and beautiful. As the EP title suggests, this is the eternal flame of classic rock music, not just being kept alive, but stoked, refuelled, and reignited for the next generation, “We are very much a product of the classic rock and blues titans, bands like Zeppelin, Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Tom Petty are less influences and more part of our bloodstream. However growing up in the 90s/00’s there’s a lot of indie and alt rock influences we’ve had few people giving us a likeness to Black Crowes, Alice In Chains and Foo Fighters, we’ll happily take those as comparisons. I think having some newer music influences helps us from becoming just another pastiche classic rock band.”
‘Embers’ was released in March 2018, and kicks off with some good old riffage into the opening bars of ‘Fray’. “Our current single “Fray” has been chosen as track of the day on a few outlets, [which] all points to a positive response so far.” It’s always great to see a new band having their music picked up by outlets, especially as Will Howard has a great vocal range, reminiscent of Ian Astbury of the Cult, managing to hit the high notes, and fire off some sweet guitar licks at the same time. Listen carefully to ‘The Fray’ around three minutes in for an odd acceleration in the drum beat, I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but sounds like a train getting up to speed, as the song comes to its climax.
Second track ‘Set My Heart On Fire’ starts with a bassline pounding out a rhythm that makes the hairs on your arms stand up and start shaking. Again Howard’s vocals are strong and clear, and the guitar is solid classic rock, supported by the rest of the bands backing vocal harmonies, pulling the whole thing together in a smooth heavy ballad. ‘One Last Time’ is another love song, but certainly not a ballad, it’s far too upbeat a tempo despite its lyrics describing the last chance to keep love alive and burning bright.
Although there are only the four tracks on this EP, there are no three minute wonders, each track checks in at over four minutes, giving the listener plenty of time to appreciate the effort that has obviously gone into this debut from the Rum Runners. Their live set features a good few more songs, and that could be a good sign of things to come in the future.
Final offering to close the EP, ‘Can’t Have It All’ opens with a funky drum beat from Shemilt with a complimenting rhythm guitar, before Howard lets loose with some more of his lung bursting vocals. Lugg works his way up and down the bass in the background, showing he can cover the frets just as easily as the front man.
This band aren’t rushing into things, instead, they have taken their time writing and recording while slowly building up a reputation on the live circuit, as well as holding down day jobs in between gigs. “As a band we are always writing, we are all constantly bringing new ideas to the table, writing new songs or tweaking older ones, it’s a continual process for us. Will is the driving force behind the lyrics and songwriting but we truly work as band to flesh out those ideas, work on structures and embellish his ideas. It’s a really nice place to be as it also keeps the live shows fresh and interesting, constantly adding a rearranging material keeps us on our toes and the fans have something new each time we play.”
The main goal, states the band “is to keep writing and keep honing our sound and image, build a bigger fan base. There’s plans to get a video sorted for a second single from “Embers”, get a small UK tour in before the end of the year with a view to getting back in the studio before Christmas”.
When asked where in the world they would love to play Rum Runners replied, “I suppose the dream is to always hit the biggest stage you can, but we would love to hit up the sunset strip in LA they always seem to have a great vibe with an audience that is up for a truly rock n roll night. The Hammersmith Apollo in London is also a dream, it’s such an iconic place for so many of our heroes careers, would love to do a live album there, such a great sounding venue.”
Hopefully you’ll be able to catch them live at a few festivals over the summer, there’s quite a lot going on for the guys at the moment. They played Edinburgh Meadows Festival and they have a gig at O’Neills in Liverpool on 12th July. They’re also playing at The Box in Glasgow on the 28th July. “We also play a lot of gigs in and around Edinburgh and have a few more shows lined up,” explains Rum Runners, all of which will give them the confidence to get back in the studio for their next release.
Set My Heart on Fire
One Last Time
Can’t Have It All
Will Howard - Vocals/Guitar
Pete Lugg - Bass/Backing Vox
Jim Shemilt - Drums/Backing Vox