Straylight Run Stand Out Against Warped Tour Stereotype

With light, melodic songs, Straylight Runs is not your "average" Warped Tour Band. "[It’s been] shockingly awesome," bassist Shaun Cooper admits. "People are respectful and it seems like they enjoy the break because these heavy bands are like, 'Hey, what's up, motherfuckers! What's going on?' And they say it between every single song."

- Corinne

posted August 8, 2007

Straylight Run Stand Out Against Warped Tour Stereotype

     Amidst the dozens and dozens of bands playing this year’s Warped Tour, a countless number sport a combination of tattoos on arms, knuckles, necks and other body parts, side swept bangs, facial piercings and skintight jeans – jeans which the male wearers may or may not have purchased from the ladies’ section.  These bands generally churn out grinding guitar riffs or scream their lyrics to diehard teenage fans.  And then there’s Straylight Run, a seemingly unlikely candidate to be a Warped Tour band.

     When the band’s bass player Shaun Cooper shows up for the interview in the festival’s press area during the show at Camden, NJ, it is with a Pabst Blue Ribbon baseball cap on his head and a red party cup in hand.  Talk about calm and collected.  But Cooper acknowledges, with a laugh, that Straylight Run might not be what is considered an “average” Warped Tour band.

     “[It’s been] shockingly awesome,” Cooper admits.  “People are respectful and it seems like they enjoy the break because these heavy bands are like, ‘Hey, what’s up, motherfuckers!  What’s going on?’  And they say it between every single song.

     “We’re kind of giving them a different energy and people have been respecting that.  It’s been really flattering to see people’s enthusiasm for us and respect for us, as well, coming out to greets after the show.  The Warped Tour’s been phenomenal, shockingly phenomenal for us and we’re so glad to be on it.”

     Formed in 2003, Straylight Run came together when Cooper and band mate John Nolan left Taking Back Sunday and the two were joined by Nolan’s sister, Michelle DaRosa, and Will Noon (ex-Breaking Pangaea).  The band’s second full-length record “The Needles The Space,” which came out in June, is the band’s debut release on Universal Republic.  Previous EP and album releases had been strictly on Victory Records, where Taking Back Sunday was also located until their most recent album in 2006.

     For “The Needles The Space,” the band went into the writing and recording phases of preproduction with precise ideas.  The band knew what they wanted to do and how things should sound.  They even went so far, Cooper says, as to “exhaustively demo all of our songs” so that there would be no surprises or decisions later on during the final recording process.

     “We learned from our first full-length that we needed to produce it ourselves,” says Cooper.  “We didn’t want anyone else interjecting what they thought the record should sound like.  We thought we had a very good idea coming in.  I think that’s the thing we’re most proud of: the way it sounds and the way the songs are, with no outside influences trying to mold it into their vision.

     “We just worked with a couple of engineers,” he adds, “that we thought were awesome and who can recreate our sound very well whether it’s bass guitar sound or the drum sound, guitar sound, vocals.  We were very excited to do it on our own; it was a big experience we learned from.”

     The concept of siblings in the same band brings to mind horror stories of band infighting like that of The Kinks’ Ray and Dave Davies.  But Cooper insists that having both Nolan and DaRosa, who are both fulltime songwriters for the band, is not an issue.

     “For John and Michelle I think it worked out because they grew up very close,” explains Cooper.  “There’s never sibling rivalry.  My sister and I had a very similar relationship so it wasn’t the big brother beating up the little sister.  It’s always been good and it’s always been more of a friendship than any sort of brotherly-sisterly thing.”

     The close friendships aren’t limited only to Nolan and DaRosa.  It’s the friendship that the entire band has that Cooper credits with their longevity.

     “We’ve got nothing to worry about,” Cooper says.  “There’s not even a little bit of fighting.  I think that’s the reason why our band has continued to do things and be together even though we’ve had some harder times.”