INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
It’s been a while since boy bands have been part of popular culture, but the boys of SCOTT’S RUN are more than what you might expect from your run of the mill band. One of the few ska bands originating in Virginia, SCOTT’S run combines elements of punk, jazz, funk, pop, and even classical music. Their extensive line-up consists of lead vocalist Cameron Pulley, drummer/vocalist Alex Lichtenstein, guitarist Jeff Small, bassist Jonathan Ledesma, keyboardist Calvin Baxter, saxophonist Aaron Frederick , and trombone player Keith Kunze. Though the majority of the band are currently enrolled in college, they are still remaining active in the local — and international — music scene. We spoke with Lichtenstein, Baxter, and Frederick about their band’s self-titled sophomore EP, the ska scene, or lack thereof, in Virginia, and their new music which is still in the works.
I know that SCOTT’S RUN is a trail in the Great Falls area, but why did you decide to name your band that?
Alex: I guess the reason was that we kind of wanted to represent the area where we were influenced as musicians, and where we are from is important to us. We also thought it sounded cool (laughs).
Is it true that your band often participates in poetry slams?
Calvin: I will say no to that one, but we do like to engage our online following on Facebook a lot. They are so good to us, so we try to entertain them with sarcastic quips. But we do not, sadly…
To be honest, I only know of a few ska bands from Virginia, and a few others from the DC area. Why do you think ska is such a rare genre in this area?
Alex: I don’t know. It’s a fun genre to play. Having horns is such a cool thing when songwriting. It’s not something you see a lot in bands these days. It gives you a lot of flexibility to branch out into other styles [of music]. On our record, we do not only do stuff in the ska style, but we also have some dance-influenced jazz and some other weird stuff.
Aaron: I think our local scene is predominantly metal-focused, and I think that has a lot to do with how awesome their [school] band and orchestra program is. People get really into that playing in the orchestra and bands, so they get really proficient in classical music. Then all the guitar junkies that play other instruments realize they can get better at guitar, and metal music is the best outlet for being a well-trained classical guitar player.
Are any of you classically trained in the instruments that you play?
Calvin: I played piano for 12 years, classically, and then a couple [years] of jazz.
Aaron: I’ve been playing saxophone classically for about 10 years and jazz as well.
Alex: I’m not trained at all (laughs).
Do you guys play mostly with punk bands or more mixed genre shows?
Calvin: I think we play with a huge variety. You can’t even narrow it down. We play Empire a lot, and it’s predominantly metal bands that play there. The stage is designed that way, but we’ve played with funk, other ska bands, electronic bands, spoken word people. Pretty much everything.
Aaron: We’ve also played with some folk players who brought their acoustic guitars and their hot ass girlfriends.
In February, you guys released a self-titled full-length record. How has the response been to the new songs?
Calvin: I think it’s been really good. We did a very good job spamming the Internet, and it’s gotten a lot of downloads. We can track our stats on Bandcamp, and it’s got some international appeal. We found out that some people in Russia were downloading it, which was kinda cool.
Alex: It’s been mostly positive reviews. I think people liked it. We’re still getting a couple downloads here and there based on the information through Bandcamp, but I think it did well.
Aaron: I personally wanted it to do better. This is all relative, but personally I have been dreaming slightly bigger. So I was slightly disappointed that nothing came out of it. Otherwise, I’m really happy with the music we played on it.
CLICK HER TO LISTEN TO SCOTT’S RUN
Which song is your favorite to play live off your new album?
Calvin: My favorite is “Don’t Feel Sorry for Me”. It’s got a lot of really interesting parts, and I enjoy listening to it while playing it. Sometimes live, our guitar player doesn’t really want to solo that hard so I kind of solo, but I love it because I’m an attention hog (laughs).
Since then, have you started writing any new music?
Alex: We recorded a couple songs over the summer. They are still in the process of being mixed, and we plan to have those out relatively soon. We recorded the drum track with Ken Barnum at Recording Arts in Fairfax, and a lot of the instrumentation at Palmer Studio. We’re still dealing with the logistics of how we want to release it.
Do you have any upcoming shows or festivals you are playing soon?
Calvin: Currently, no.
Alex: Since we are all at different colleges, it’s kind of hard to perform in the area.
Calvin: We keep getting emails from Indie on the Move and Reverbnation about gigs in our area, and we are currently picking and choosing which ones will work for us when we all get back from school, most of which will be over winter break.
Where do each of you go to school?
Aaron: I was gonna say we all go to the University of Phoenix, but that’s probably not even funny (laughs). I go to Overland College; Calvin goes to Gettysburg College; Alex goes to NYU; Jonathan goes to University of Virginia; Jeff goes to JMU; Cameron goes to Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.; and Keith is currently on break, right?
Calvin: Yeah, he’s taking a year off.
What do you hope for your band to accomplish by the end of the year?
Calvin: I would like to release the EP. My goal is sometime over the winter, maybe after Christmas or maybe Valentine’s Day, which was around the time we released our last album. I want to release three or four songs there, and I want to record three or four more over winter/summer break. I just want to keep playing and play shows here and there. I’m more concerned about recording new material.
Aaron: I really want someone to find us and offer to pay us to play music like a label, or a booker or agent. I just want someone to be like, “I think you guys are really awesome, and I think people would pay money to see you guys.” That would be really cool.
Alex: I’d like to get some more Internet recognition and play through blogs. In the future, we plan to give it our all in upcoming recordings and whatnot, and perhaps stray from the strictly DIY path like we did with our first album. We want to try to make it a more collaborative effort between us and different parties.
For more updates on SCOTT’S RUN, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, Reverbnation, and Soundcloud, subscribe to their YouTube page, and check out their music on Bandcamp.