Run Coyote’s latest album In Shadowlands follows a spaghetti-western themed narrative, describing the chase between a private eye and femme fatale. Seldom is a devoted effort like this done, but the product makes it seem as though In Shadowlands as a film already exists. The curiously creeping guitars braided within the music engulfs the listener in the story, making them feel as if they’re part of it, watching from the barstool at a run-down saloon in a town that is just never big enough.
Sam of Run Coyote answered a few questions about the new theater-esque album and how the fictional storyline was inspired.
Where did you get the idea for the story behind In Shadowlands?
I wanted to write and record an album of songs that basically answered the question: “Is it possible to write moody, late night rock’n’roll songs with Spaghetti Western and Film Noir sounds and themes?” Album opener “Yellow Roses” was the first song I wrote with this question in mind and I was happy with the way it turned out, so I went for it. The storyline of the album developed with each song, but really started with “Private Eye”.
Does the entire album follow this story line? Do you have a preference writing fictional lyrics rather than personal ones?
Most of the songs on the album tell the stories of two main characters: the anti-hero/femme fatale and the detective/private eye. These characters come face to face in “Private Eye” and “The Chase.” “Private Eye” centres around a murder mystery, with the pre-chorus (“Private Eye I fool you…”) being from the anti-hero/femme fatale’s perspective and the chorus (“A life lead in shadows…”) being a kind-of main theme for the detective. I like the idea of having conflicting perspectives in the same song. “The Chase” is the detective’s response to being fooled.
At the moment I prefer writing fictional songs – each one is like creating my own little movie. I visualize the scenes in the story and then puzzle them together into a song.
If In Shadowlands had a film adaptation, who would it star?
Tough question! If it was done today, it would be cool to have Ryan Gosling and Léa Seydoux, with the ghost of Orson Welles directing and an uncredited cameo by Joseph Cotton’s ghost.
Seeing that you’re a fan of old westerns and film noir, what would you say is your favorite visual scene from a movie?
My current favourite film is The Third Man. I love everything about the way it looks – it’s stunning! The film was directed by Carol Reed, with cinematography by Robert Krasker. Everything is a little off, uneasy, and weird. Each scene is shot on a weird angle; there’s great use of high contrast in terms of light, but also within the city itself – moving from ornate apartments to destroyed buildings and rumble; the streets are always wet and reflective at night; and the use of shadows is beautiful and haunting. My favourite part is probably the chase scene at the end, with Orson Welles running through the sewers of Vienna – it’s incredible!
Is there anything else different about this release compared to your 2014 album, Youth Haunts?
Our first album was just a collection of songs we had, which all ended up being mostly about my youth because those were my most recent experiences. Those songs were more eclectic in style, which I was happy with because I’m a big fan of The Beatles’ White Album and its diverse mix. For the new album we had a definite sound and theme we were going for – early 60s rock’n’roll mixed with Film Noir and Spaghetti Westerns. Also – we have a different drummer with us on the new album and he’s the best – Jeremy Ramos-Foley. The guitar sounds and effects really create the western noir atmosphere, but the drums and bass (played by Amanda Grant) are my favourite instruments and create the mood and attitude.
Radiotrails is all about music discovery and highlighting lesser-known artists. Who do you recommend our readers check out?
We just played FLOURISH Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick and our favourite discovery from the weekend was local band Pallmer. They blew us away and had maybe the best use of loops I’ve ever seen. But the looping wasn’t the best part, the songs and arrangements were incredible. Definitely check them out!