Middle Distance Runner is an awkwardly named quartet from my hometown, Chocolate City. These guys have just released their debut album, Plane in Flames, and have been all over the blogs recently. I’ve been listening to their music quite frequently these past few weeks, so I was obviously excited when I received an e-mail from the band asking for a review. I was able to coax an interview and contest out of the guys as well.
For those of you unfamiliar with MDR, here are a few tracks to give you a little taste:
Warning: This interview is incredibly immature and can only truly be appreciated by those that are high and/or are under the age of 12. Here goes…
ATG: Being that you’re from DC (my hometown as well), did any major bands from the area have a big influence on you (Jawbreaker, etc.)? What kinds of shows were you guys going before you formed MDR?
JAY: Oddly, the music that shaped me most from DC was Go-Go. Chuck Brown, EU, Trouble Funk and some more obscure bands that I can’t remember. One of them had a name that had something to do with a clock and oddly enough our studio at the time bought their old PA system.
ATG: Any favorite venue in the DC area?
ALLAN: Our best shows have probably been at IOTA.
JAY: I will always love the 9:30 club. It is just big enough and they have a great selection of fine ales. I could mention The Birchmere and how they have the best sound system and stuff but I would be uncool.
IAN: I’ll tell you my LEAST favorite venue in the DC area: Nissan Pavilion. Fuck that place. You ever tried to go to a show there? It’s like 200 miles away on a one-lane highway.
ATG: So what’s with the name Middle Distance Runner?
ERIK : It’s my mother’s maiden name….it’s a German thing.
STEVE: I wanted to call the band Steve Kilroy and the Sunshine Body-paint Bonanza Band, but my astrologer told me that was a bad idea.
ATG: Any bands out there right now that you truly admire? any that you can’t stand?
ERIK: Death by Sexy blew me away at a recent DC9 show. They recently started playing with Tony Acampora (bass) and I feel like the trio is really starting to solidify into something amazing.
STEVE: I admire The Killers for having the balls to suck so bad and be so arrogant about it. I can’t stand The Killers.
ATG: What are you expecting from your debut release, Plane in Flames?
ALLAN: Jet Ski’s and babes. Literally hundreds of dollars.
JAY: I am expecting it to be an oxymoron because it will soar high instead of crashing and also not be on fire.
IAN: If all is right in the world, it will be the first of many MDR releases. We’ll see. We’re honestly hoping it catches the ear of someone important who can actually help it reach its full potential. I truly think it could be our kick-start. We predict that well over three percent of people who listen to it will like it.
ATG: I know choosing a favorite song off one of your own albums is like choosing a favorite son (my mom says I’m her favorite), but are there any tracks on the album that you are particularly proud of?
STEVE: I’m proud of “The Madness”. I never worked so hard on the lyrics to any song. I also love how the music turned out in that song. We thought a little outside of the box, but it’s still accessible. Also, I like “Naturally” because it’s the hit and I’m plugging now.
JAY: I like different things about different songs. I like the big ending in “Hooks”. I like “The Madness” a lot and I think most of us do. I think it is a really mature song for us. It is strange though because it gets the least amount of feedback from people. I don’t know if they like it or not. I also really like one of the newer songs we are playing called “With Swords”, which was born out of the built up tension of not writing for a year.
ATG: What’s next for MDR? Big tour plans?
ERIK: On the next episode of MDR, the band faces a duel crisis: Jay is afoot and there is a great plague across the land. Woe to Steve, that he is accused of being a witch by Erik. Will he and Ian have their day at the stake? Tune in December 16th!
STEVE: MDR…never heard of it. But if that’s a drug, I’m sure Ian’s done it. We don’t have any “big” tour plans right now. Just one-offs in local and not-so-local cities.
ATG: You’re on the 1980’s hit TV game show ‘Press Your Luck’ and you just landed on “a sailboat OR $2,500 and a spin.” Which do you choose and why?
ERIK: I don’t know, but check this out: http://youtube.com/watch?v=XbLsl8AEjJk
JAY: I pick the $2,500 and spin. I gotta tell you man. Sailboats are a LOT of work. First you need to learn how to put up the sails and everything. Then you need to learn how to tack or whatever it’s called. You have to read those maps so you don’t bottom out on something in the water, then when you aren’t sailing you pay a slip fee and dump all your toilet water out. Don’t even get me started on winter prep.
Seriously though people get roped into those things and they think it’s going to be smooth sailing. They end up becoming very stern when they drift into reality and finally get even keeled. They try to coral their friends into it but the friends usually harbor ill feelings about getting on-board with it. Nevertheless, the owner just jib-ber jabbers away about it and the friends don’t have a beacon of hope because they are anchored into the conversation. They usually end up drowning their sorrows by getting three sheets to the wind cause they can’t take it.
So, in short, that is why I would just spin.
IAN: This is a stupid question. $2,500 and a spin. Would ANYONE take a sailboat over $2,500? Who writes these fucking things, anyway? $2500 or a wood chipper and beer and unlimited branches and you’ll have yourself a healthy debate.
ATG: Last question. Who wears the pants in the band?
STEVE: Ha. Nobody wears pants to practice, if that’s what you mean. Ouch! What’s this hook doing in my mouth?! Oh I see. You were fishing for an invitation. Well, I’m afraid there’s no room in MDR’s sea for any more cod. Because the cod that are already in there are too BIG. Now I’m talking about our penises.
ALLAN: Erik wears shorts quite often, Steve wears cargo pants, Jay wears slacks, Ian wears women’s pants…so that leaves me. Kicking ass in my men’s denims, making the decisions!
IAN: Everyone in this band is still in diapers, if you ask me. Bunch of crybabies. Well, everyone except me, of course. I have a passport. I wear pants and I am a car owner and I have all my own teeth.
Thanks to the guys and look for the MDR contest in a few days.