Not often do you see an Australian folk-rock band and a Korean folk band on the same bill. It's actually very rare you see a Korean folk band at all. While both Boy & Bear and Run River North come from different backgrounds and musical influences, they're currently touring together to share tunes drenched in strings and kick drums and luscious harmonies.
Boy & Bear's sophomore release, Harlequin Dream, shot to number one on the Billboard charts, landing them a performance spot on Conan in July. The album front-to-back captures stories about parenthood, uncertainty, and being a rock star. However, it's their single "Southern Sun" that really skyrocketed them into rotations on indie radio and launched them on a worldwide tour.
David Symes of Boy & bear had explained that they're excited to play new places they've never played before, especially Arizona.
"We really can't wait to see a real desert," Symes explains when I asked him what he's excited to discover in Arizona, followed by, "Well, what do you suggest we do?"
I suggested they walk across the bridge, grab some pizza, walk back to the Marquee Theatre, and play an incredible show.
As a six-piece folk band, it's a challenge to find the common denominator in musical influences.
"I really got into The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, and The Strokes in high school," Alex Hwang of Run River North explains. "Our drummer, John, comes from a jazz background with some punk influence; while our violinist, Jennifer, comes from a classical background with almost no pop in her life, until she joined the band."
A band with multiple backgrounds and different forms of training become a stronger, more diverse band in forms of writing. And Hwang knew that when it came time to record, they were going to really focus and take things seriously, so they traveled to Seattle to record with Phil Ek, who has previously worked with Sub Pop heavyweights Fleet Foxes, the Shins, and Modest Mouse.
"We only had 22 days to record," Hwang recalls. "And we had never been in a studio before. We were learning how to record, and Ek had a lot of stories, and having known the recording space, he knew exactly where to place mics and where the room sounded best. We learned a lot about being musicians in that place."
Since Run River North doesn't technically have a radio single as of yet, Hwang says the band must use other means to keep fans engaged.
"We are active on social media, and we're the ones selling merchandise at our shows. We think it's important to maintain relationships of the people who come to shows, and we try to find something new and exciting in our lives."
A few Arizona connections they've made include The Technicolors, The Prowling Kind, and Jared & the Mill.
"We've stayed at Mickey [Pangburn]'s house a couple times, but we're staying at Jared [Kolesar]'s house this time, and we're excited to hang with the boys from the Mill and catch up since we last saw them at SXSW in March," Hwang says.
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