- With: Bald Eagle Refugees
- When: 10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28
- Where: Pilot Light
- Admission: $5
KNOXVILLE — Knoxville's Cool Runnings is the brainchild of Brandon Biondo and Forrest Ferguson, who both contribute guitar, bass and vocals to the project. But what started as a vehicle for the two founders' solo material has evolved into a collaborative project between the two frontmen that also benefits from the creative contributions of all eight members of the group's full roster.
While Biondo is currently active in three bands outside of Cool Runnings, most notably Royal Bangs, he savors the outlet this ensemble provides. With no reputation at stake and nothing to hold back, Ferguson and Biondo feel comfortable as a songwriting duo, claiming to have similar styles and even similar voices. So relaxed in its style, the group holds nothing sacred when conjuring its abstract subject matter or the unconventional instrumental format that delivers it.
"I was trying to get a solo project up and going for a while, and Brandon expressed an interest," Ferguson says. "He was playing drums for a little bit. It never really got off the ground. I couldn't find enough like-minded people. It kind of pitter-pattered until Brandon started trying to get people together to play his solo stuff, and we decided to make this an outfit where we could put all our ideas out instead of having two separate bands, especially when it's so similar. We have a good balance between total weirdness and straightforward pop. I think we're right in the middle of that. We both operate the same way; we like certain sounds."
"I'd describe it as definitely weird," Biondo adds. "It's more electronic and stranger than anything I've done before. It sounds kind of demented, I guess, both lyrically and musically. With this group, we can do whatever we want. We can be as weird as we want, and if nobody likes it, no big deal. It sounds completely different than anything I've heard anyone else doing around here, and I think people will appreciate the uniqueness of it."
Much of the band's uniqueness comes in its eight-man layout. Composed of two drum sets, violin, keys and a dancer in addition to the standard rock instrumentation, the group will have no trouble filling up a stage and filling out its surreal soundscapes; however, the venti-sized outfit is sure to create speedbumps down the road as Cool Runnings begins scheduling shows more frequently. This obstacle is no concern to the band's creators as of yet, as they simply look forward to presenting their ideal vision to the highest allowable measure.
"Mostly right now we're just playing to see how it goes," says Biondo. "I'm kind of curious to see how it all turns out. I guess it's dependent on if anyone wants to do it. Right now I don't think any of us are thinking that far ahead. The idea of going on tour would be cool, but I don't necessarily know that the group of people in the band right now would all be up for it."
"I guess the way we work is to not specifically write with any particular lineup in mind," agrees Ferguson. "These are just a bunch of guys who are really talented and interested in the music and that we enjoy playing with. I'm sure things may be compromised somewhere along the way, but we haven't thought about it."
Though the logistics may prove a challenge, writing songs has been anything but for the crew of accomplished performers who have already amassed a catalog that runs well over an hour. Cool Runnings will test this material with its first outing this week.
Thursday night Cool Runnings is set to cram the stage at Pilot Light for its debut performance. Joining them will be Bald Eagle Refugees (formerly I Need Sleep). The show kicks off at 10 p.m., and admission is $5. The show will serve as a benefit for a hospitalized friend of the band.
DON'T WORRY, YOUR KIDS WILL EAT IT UP: Tonight Yung Life joins a five-pronged rock attack hosted by The Longbranch Saloon. Also on the bill are Arrison Kirby, Wesley Wyrick, Star Mountain and American Panda. The show is slated for 8 p.m. and costs $5.
FINALLY, AN AA THAT WANTS YOU TO DRINK: Raleigh alt-country quintet American Aquarium performs at Barley's Taproom Monday night at 10 p.m.