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It’s a Monday evening in Covina, and hired dancers are jumping up and down, screaming madly to Runner Runner’s new song, “So Obvious.” Director Travis Kopach—who has helmed videos for artists such as AFI, Panic! At the Disco and Boys Like Girls—is yelling for another take. They’ve been shooting since 7 a.m., but front man Ryan Ogren smiles and wipes away his sweaty brown hair with the back of his hand.
“Your song sounds so mainstream,” says one of the dancers.
“Yeah, but it’s so money, right?” Ogren offers.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Runner Runner, the Huntington Beach-based quintet formed in 2008. Made up of singer Ogren, guitarists Nick Bailey and Peter Munters, bassist Jon Berry, and drummer James Ulrich, the pop strike force came together from the remnants of the nominally more-famous punk bands Rufio, Don’t Look Down and Over It.
Early this year, the band signed to Capitol Records and David Letterman’s new label, Clear Entertainment/C.E. Music. Their self-titled debut album was released June 15, and the single “So Obvious” was a hit—it quickly rose to the Top 40 and Hot AC Radio Charts while gracing the Teen Nickelodeon Billboard chart.
The video is being filmed in the legendary house where 1997’s Boogie Nights was set. While “So Obvious” is a catchy pop ditty that can definitely make you dance, the concept behind the video isn’t too profound. Each scene has a band member competing with technology to feebly try to get a woman’s attention—without much success. Ogren is lip-syncing, “I need you here, but you’re always so far away/I call you up, but you know it’s just never the same.” He says the video is a tribute to being in love when you can’t be with your special someone all the time. “It’s not such an original concept; you just have to get the feeling of being alone,” he says. “It’s not super-deep. But hey, it’s catchy, and there’s a good vibe.”
Although it’s Runner Runner’s first video shoot, they’re not newbies to the music scene. The band have been touring almost nonstop for the past two years and have played more than 175 shows around the world. They’ve had their fair share of rock & roll antics: During Bailey’s birthday celebration in a hotel in Japan, an extremely intoxicated Ulrich picked up a fire extinguisher and started spraying everyone with foam. The band then had an altercation with wrestlers (and WWE rejects) Rosey and Jamal of the Samoan Gangstas, who were staying in the same hotel. “Rosey picked James up by the neck and threatened to kill him,” recalls Bailey with a laugh.
By 3 p.m., it’s cloudy. Bikini-clad extras are lying on beach towels, shivering. For this scene, Berry approaches a bleached-blond Barbie in a hot-pink bathing suit texting on her phone and pours lotion all over himself until he’s white as a ghost. He sticks his tongue out and starts seductively moisturizing his nipples and chest, all while she ignores him. “CUT!” yells Kopach. “Let’s try this scene again. This time with a more subtle approach. Just spread the lotion over your arms and look at her.” The entire crew bursts out laughing.
The band are having a lot of fun, but like every band wanting to make it big, the ultimate goal is all about the music. “I want people to find a real emotional connection with our music. I want to see everyone dance. If it’s not meaningful to other people, at least it will always be meaningful to me,” Ogren says.
Runner Runner admit they want their songs to be heard by millions. “We are true to ourselves, and we have never pretended to be something we are not. As cheesy as this sounds, all of our dreams are coming true,” says Munters. They’re trying to market to the masses, and their fan base is growing with each Twitter follow and MySpace hit.
As Runner Runner continue to tour, “So Obvious” is only the first salvo in their assault on the pop charts. And then there’s their backup plan to fast-tracking fame: While no Runner Runner members have slept with Letterman, guitarist Bailey says, “Hopefully, he’ll share his bed with me one day.”
Runner Runner perform with Secondhand Serenade, White Tie Affair and Camera Can’t Lie at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.houseofblues.com. Sat., 7 p.m. $22.50. All ages.