If you missed The Runaways’ album release show, find the disc and commence kicking yourself.Cookeville’s own folk quintet, The Runaways, dropped their 11-track debut album, “West Fifth”, at the Backdoor Playhouse on Jan. 28. to a sardine-packed audience of friends, family and newly hooked hipsters.
The Runaways are Nate Dodson, vocals, guitar, fiddle and piano; Andrew Barnes, vocals and guitar; Alex Hatcher, slide and guitar; David Taylor Bailey, Bass; and Taylor Hennigan, on drums. And with youth on their side, this covey of folk-rock protagonists can play it like your grandpa but bring it in the most stylish and affable package.
“I feel like we’re doing more than just putting on a crazy show,” Dodson said, “It’s more like presenting our music, almost playing like we do when we practice around the living room.”
The Runaways’ homey attitude and modish spin on time-honored folk makes their shows a must see, must hear experience.
“West Fifth,” gained its name from Dodson’s old house where The Runaways began and wrote most of their songs, as evident in the song “Good Old Days,” a much loved track among band members.
“I think ‘Good Old Days’ sums up our whole album,” Barnes said, “It’s called ‘West Fifth’ because of all of the good old days at Nate’s house.”
But “West Fifth” stretches far beyond the whimsical, bitter-sweet nostalgia of “Good Old Days” into the tale of the love deprived hitchhiker of “2 Dollars” and the equivocally intelligent “Wake Up Peter.” Start to finish, “West Fifth” shows a musical evolution, apparent in the band’s writers, Dodson and Barnes.
“I think the songs are becoming more creative, more diverse,” Hatcher said, “Especially some of the newer ones. It’s not one hundred percent different from the sound we usually play but it’s different enough.”
“When I started writing… I definitely tried to confine the sound to be a lot more specific,” Barnes said. “Lately with newer songs, it’s broader.”
Looking back, The Runaways began simply, by Dodson and Barnes jamming at the house on West Fifth.
“Me and Andrew started playing acoustic guitars, trying to sound like somebody we weren’t,” Dodson said. “[We began] showing each other new songs we’d written and he said he knew Tay and Dave from church.”
Hatcher, a more recent addition to the group, brings an age-old sound to The Runaways music, helping secure their country vibe with twangs and smooth flourishes on slide guitar.
With a full band roster, Dodson has changed his creative method.
“I write more geared to having everybody in it now,” Dodson said. “I’m always thinking about.
how everybody will fit in.”
Recorded by Billy and Dedah Judd of Sparta, “West Fifth” is brimming with sincerely sought sounds, from simple rustic rhythms to thickly layered riffs.
With plans for a short film in the future, featuring tracks from “West Fifth,” and CDs to sell, The Runaways look to expand their performance area.
“We’re definitely going to try to play a lot more. Maybe head to Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga.”
For more information on The Runaways and their music, go to myspace.com/runawaysmusic. “West Fifth” can be purchased at Outdoor Experience and American Guitar and Sound, both in Cookeville.