Originally published in The Daily Iowan 10/09/2009
The steep climb to the Picador’s second floor is no longer as precarious as it was when the venue was known as Gabe’s.
That news will make Straylight Run drummer Will Noon very happy. The musician said he remembers hauling gear up Gabe’s metal mass of stairs when his former band, the now defunct Breaking Pangaea, played at the venue years ago.
Noon will return to Iowa City to ascend those remodeled stairs tonight and will bring new company this time around — John Nolan and Shaun Cooper, formerly of Taking Back Sunday. Together, the three musicians make up Straylight Run. At 6 p.m. today, the alt-rock threesome will overtake the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. Admission is $12.
Because of a contract with Nolan’s and Cooper’s former group, Chicago-based label Victory Records released Straylight Run’s self-titled first album. After the band recorded a second full-length album (The Needles The Space) and an EP, the band joined Universal Republic Records. Noon said the label led the band to believe it knew how to support the album, which he called its “least radio-friendly record.”
“They pushed one song on the radio, and they said they didn’t know what to do,” he said.
With such little support for its album, he said, Straylight Run left Universal Republic Records. Cooper now splits time between Straylight Run and Nolan’s sister Michelle DaRossa’s band Destry.
Since its fallout with Universal Republic, Straylight Run runs independent of any big labels. Noon said the three are responsible for organizing tours, new music releases, and music videos, and he prefers the extra work.
“It’s nice to have a bunch of people working for you,” Noon said. “But there are times when they are distracted on other things. I’d rather have three of us working really hard than 300 not working hard.”
The band is on tour promoting its new EP, About Time. As was the band’s last release, the new tracks are only available through download.“EPs aren’t a huge commitment,” Noon said. “If we put something out and we can’t tour, we can get right back in the studio and record new songs.”
The new sound the band explores is less melodic and more folk-oriented, therefore setting it apart from Nolan’s and Cooper’s previous bands and records.
“It’s hard to step out of that,” Noon said. “We’ve always been the odd man out.”