Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is The Runners-Up.
Glorious power-pop is the devotion of The Runners-Up. Coalescing in early 2005 as yet another star in the Wisconsin Pop Explosion constellation, this quartet displays their local musical yeomanry in the form of garage pop with an attitude. This is seen nearly exclusively on stage, though, as the group has yet to record their cheeky songs. With a new year approaching, though, anything can happen.
The band's official bio takes a fairly unique and appropriately fun form, provided as a four-part test (complete with the key). Here's the quiz and an introduction:
Good afternoon, class. Today, as I'm home recuperating after a vicious rabbit attack, I have instructed the substitute to read to you from the little-known poetry of Ralph Nader. Your homework will be the following take-home quiz on yesterday's discussion of The Runners-Up. - Mr. Meltz
Multiple Choice (choose the best answer):
1. What is "The Runners-Up?"
A. sarcastic slang term for the last-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes
(B.) a group of perennial second bananas coaxed by a first banana into being her backing band
C. the Democratic Party
D. the Alaskan Cross-Country team
2. The terms "Knobs," "Gloves" and "Goodness" refer to:
A. sexual aids used by President Bush
(B.) members of the band The Runners-Up
C. obscure items on rock band Garbage's contract rider
D. Union Cab dispatchers
3. Which of these subjects is NOT discussed in a song by The Runners-Up?
A. spelling bees
(B.) Kate Moss
C. meeting the band
Fill in the Blank (complete the lyric line):
4. "You got a car with your big money"
(and your passing grades)
5. "With the haberdashers"
6. "I could never hide the frenzied need inside"
(a love you never wanted anyway)
7. "It's a long way back from your place"
(so I drove home on 18)
8. What instrument does Gloves play?
9. Who is Knobs' favorite singer?
10. How many strings are on the Harmony guitar?
10. How do you feel The Runners-Up have affected your life? Be descriptive.
(answers will vary)
Starting out with a variety of skills originally crafted in several dearly departed bands (The New Recruits, The Shivers and The Super Eights, among others), the four Runners-Up are led on stage by Erika Lozier on guitar and vocals. Also performing solo as Aunt Goodness, Lozier is joined by Alex "Gloves" Fulton on the drums, Bob Koch (an Isthmus employee and contributor) on the guitar and vocals, and James "Knobs" Leaver on the bass and vocals.
As The Runners-Up have devoted most of their energies to their live performances, there are not many possibilities to listen to their music outside of a gig. There is one exception, though. A demo version of "James Brown with Two Heads" appears on the Wisconsin Pop Explosion compilation album, which was released late this year. There are a few more details about the group, meanwhile, to be found at runners-up.com, including a detailed list of their previous live performances.
Playing only a handful of shows in 2005, the band has been more active over this year. One of their first shows of 2006 was a Wisconsin Pop Explosion showcase at the King Club, reviewed (of course) by Kiki Schueler. She describes the band and their sound:
You can count the shows that openers The Runners Up have under their belts on one hand, without even using the thumb, but the band's members have all spent plenty of time on stage. Erika Lozier, who also performs solo under the name Aunt Goodness, handled most of the lead vocals; her voice a likeable combination of The Reputations's Elizabeth Elmore and Rainer Maria's Caithlin De Marrais. The ubiquitous Bob Koch took over on a couple songs, his unique voice an innocent cousin to Mercury Rev's David Baker. Following his song, bassist James Leaver gleefully joked that the song was "98% clam free for those of you allergic to shellfish." He's obviously been saving that one for a while. In fact their entire set was quite enjoyable, and with silly songs like "You're My Spelling Bee" and "James Brown with Two Heads," they should appeal to fans of Madison's like-minded, fun-loving German Art Students.More details about the band can be found in a preview on Dane101, providing a look at their plans mere weeks after formation.
The Runners-Up are closing 2006 in an appropriate manner, squaring off against three like-minded compatriots in Last Band Standing III. Held at the High Noon Saloon on the evening of Friday, Dec. 29, the show will feature four bands and a year's worth of beer, an event that's becoming a bonafide annual tradition in Madison music. Joining The Runners-Up in kicking off the New Year's weekend will be The Motorz, The Arge, and Goat Radio. Anticipation for the event is high, with quite a bit of discussion about the competition on TDPF.
After playing themselves under the table this weekend, The Runners-Up will be diving into 2007, with plans to start recording their debut release in the spring.
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.