Monday, September 8, 2008

Interview: Michael Runion (Elliott Show Performer)

On Thursday, September 18, WTBU will proudly present an incredible line-up of artists for its Elliott Smith tribute show. WTBU caught up with Michael Runion, the show's headliner, who talked to us about Elliott's influence. Michael Runion is an LA-based singer/songwriter who has shared the stage with Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Feist, Death Cab, and others.

How has Elliott influenced you as a musician?

I first saw Elliot in 1999 at Yo Yo A Go Go Fest in Olympia, Washington. A friend had introduced me only a week prior. He played by himself, and I was immediately a fan. When I started writing my own songs in 2003, I wanted to write songs that were sad and pretty. I think that's the strongest influence. And his guitar playing is beyond incredible. I wish I could say the same for my own.

Why do you think Elliott has proven to be so influential on musicians in general?

I think he's been influential on musicians because of his timing. He was a singer/songwriter in indie rock while people were still getting over the anti-melody of the early to mid 90's. So much stuff was distorted and abrasive--very unpolished. If you look at a lot of label rosters from that time, it's all post-fuzz, bands that weren't comfortable referencing The Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel. So I think he made it okay to be a singer/songwriter that wasn't a singer/songwriter, someone that wasn't just fingerpicking to bad diary excerpts at a coffee shop.

Why are you most excited to be playing at an elliott smith tribute show? Have you played any shows like this in the past?

I'm most excited because his music has meant a lot to me. (I also happened to record my first album at his studio, New Monkey, two years after he passed.) Either/Or is one of my favorite records ever. I hope I can do some of his songs justice. I've never played anything like this before. Very exciting...

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