Suitcase Runaway, a rock/folk/alternative band from Cleveland, Ohio, recently came out with their new music video for their song “Strike A Nerve”. The song in question came out in 2017 and formed an integral part of their album titled Short Stories, Vol. II. The album itself is a surprisingly lyrically gentle blend of folk and alternative music and what I’d like to think is the perfect soundtrack to lazy Sunday mornings and adventurous Saturday afternoons.
The band is back and better than ever and was kind enough to take some time out of their days to answer some questions.
First thing’s first… I’m curious to know more about your name. Why did you decide to name your group ‘Suitcase Runaway’?
The name comes from a story from back when we were in high school. There was a kid in our frontman Nick’s girlfriend’s carpool who put on this front like they were always finding all this underground music and knew every band out there. So, Nick’s girlfriend and one of her friends made up a fake band called “Suitcase Runaway” to try and see if they would act like they had heard of the band and the kid totally bought it and said they wanted to see them live and everything. We just thought it was a solid name that fit our vibe and it had a funny backstory, so it stuck.
What were your goals when Suitcase Runaway was in its fledgling stages?
Suitcase Runaway kind of had a few different ‘fledgling stages’, but when Nick originally began the project it was pretty straightforward. He wanted to write music, tell stories and have a way to examine his thoughts and express himself in an artistic light. It was originally intended to mostly serve himself and was less about putting on a show or attracting other people’s attention. When Nick recruited the rest of us, it was mostly to expand his original vision and enhance the art he’d already been creating. After we finalized our line-up, the band as a whole started making bigger and broader goals. We obviously still want to make music and tell stories, but now we’re also focused on creating something for others to enjoy and love. We really want our fans to be a part of our journey as we carry onward and we have every intention of taking our group as far as it can go.
How has your sound changed since welcoming Muller to the group?
There was a big shift when we brought Jared in on keys. It made a lot of sense to recruit him, since he’d actually been working with Nick since before the rest of us all knew each other, but there was still a lot to figure out. Firstly, we spent a good deal of time making new arrangements of our songs. Some keys parts already existed, but the piano wasn’t a staple part of our sound until Jared worked to establish it as one. More recently though, he’s started working as our producer and mix engineer when we get in the studio. “Strike A Nerve” was our first studio release since he joined and he was able to create a new vision for the band’s sound. It’s something we’re still honing in on, too. We’ve been in the studio again working on more music to prepare for an eventual album release and his presence as a producer has really furthered our sound on our new songs. Other than sound, he’s helped develop our stage presence and brought the average height of the group down significantly.
Your music as a whole is just so calming and chilled. Where/how do you seek inspiration for it?
The original inspiration for most of our songs is sought out by Nick. There are a few key elements that constantly influence both his artistic vision and his lyrical writing. Nick spends a lot of time isolated in nature and usually makes a weekly habit of going to his favorite spots. Nature has always played a big part in the inspiration for our music and it rubs off into our imagery as well. We base most of our sound in natural acoustic instrumentation, with acoustic piano and guitar at the forefront. Even when we use electronic elements, they tend to enhance something natural rather than synthesized. We also take a lot of influence from other works of art, whether it’s film, visual art, or other music. A lot of times the art itself gets referenced lyrically, too. And of course, as we sort of mentioned before, a lot of the inspiration for our music is simply processing our introspection. A lot of our music isn’t planned as much as it is discovered, if that makes sense. It has to be organic and personal for it to feel right with our group.
How do you deal with failure?
That’s a fantastic question with an ever-expanding answer. We all have our own individual ways of dealing with it, but the general mindset of the group is to harness our failures and turn them into motivation. Our bassist Geoff also brought up that there’s sort of this concept we use of ‘getting revenge at the cards we’ve been dealt’ when something goes wrong. Failure is always a lesson, though. It’s important not to let yourself make the same mistakes or get tricked twice. Failure can also be a kind of checkpoint, that gives us a goal to beat. The hardest and most important part of dealing with failure is re-grounding yourself. If you don’t consciously take a breath, fix your eyes and stand up before bracing yourself to go back in and try again, you’re setting yourself up to fail again. You have to remember your reasons for wanting to succeed.
I love the aesthetic of “Strike A Nerve”; it feels subtly artsy with a bit of a bohemian vibe. What was your reaction when you saw the completed video for the first time?
There was a lot of pride among the group. Geoff did all of the editing and decent amount of shooting for that video himself, so he had a bit of a ‘proud dad’ moment when it was done. I think in a way we all did, though. We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were a little surprised by how much we liked it, too, considering it was all very DIY. We had a lot of obstacles in the production of the song and video and having it presented to us with a visual when it was finally completed was really refreshing. Seeing its completion and the reaction it’s gotten from fans has really renewed our love for what we’re doing and is a huge motivation to us going forward.
Is “Strike A Nerve” the precedent to any new music?
Yes! Our vision for what was to come going into the production of “Strike A Nerve” was a little hazy, but upon finishing and releasing it we were able to really set our plans in stone. We’ve already been back in the studio, re-working a couple more of our previously-released songs that we want to show our full vision for. Those two songs will be the next projects fans will get to hear, with the first one dropping in September, but we have a lot more content on the way that will be building towards a landmark for us in the early spring. We’re incredibly excited to share what we’ve been cooking up.
Do you have any words for aspiring musicians among our Affinity readers (most of whom are high schoolers, by the way!) that may be reading this?
Absolutely. High school is a great time to be working on music. You have tons of people around you that, if you make the effort to get to know, can and will help you. We think it’s super important to develop a group of like-minded people that all want to see each other succeed, even if you don’t plan on making a band. Don’t be afraid of collaboration and keep an open-mind when working with others. Hone the hell out of your craft. Never stop practicing, writing songs, making beats, or whatever it is you’re doing. Make a lot of goals and make them as crystal-clear and realistic as you can. You won’t achieve all of them and that’s okay. Most importantly though, focus on the art. There’s more music out there than ever right now. Find what makes you love music and use that as your main fuel. Never stop trying to figure out what it is that moves you and hopefully moves the people you want to show it to (if you do want to show it to others). Your artistry is what will make you stand out and will continue to inspire you.
Watch the music video for “Strike A Nerve” below:
Featured Image by Kayla Kreller, courtesy of McKenzie Zauner