Scarlet Runner plays up and down the corridor regularly. Hoopla caught up with guitarist/singer Jason Christensen.
How did you get started?
I started playing when I was 14. The guitar was the first thing I could do fairly well. As soon as I learned how to play Buddy Guy’s “Mary had a Little Lamb,” I was hooked. I would practice every second I wasn’t in school. I played while eating, watching TV, laying in bed. I was obsessed.
How did the band come together?
About the same time, my neighbor, Luke Rathe started playing drums. He and I would get together and play every day after school. Soon we realized we needed a bass player. My brother Jack bought a bass, we played our first show in 1994 and we’ve been going ever since.
Where did the band’s name come from?
We went through several different names when we started the band in junior high. We finally decided to just sit down and go through the dictionary one day. We saw Scarlet Runner, and liked how it sounded. I feel we may have outgrown it, but people know the name, so it stays.
Describe the music?
It was all Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix for the first few years. It’s now morphed into classic rock/blues — whatever makes us feel good. We still do some SRV and Hendrix, but also plenty of Clapton, King’s X, Chris Duarte, Doyle Bramhall II, Stones, Beatles, etc.
And original music?
We have a ton of original stuff. We put out two self-released albums, followed by a release on Grooveyard Records, and finally a self-released EP.
I understand that the band has spent some time on the road?
We spent about nine years touring the country playing professionally. Basically coast-to-coast, searching for our “big break.” It eventually felt like we were just hitting our heads against the wall. Now, we’re making our music for the fun of it. We don’t have a giant light show or a huge PA. We do, however, have a true passion for music. I think the people that regularly come out to see us share that same passion. We try to listen to what the people want to hear, we mix it with what we want to play, and with everything else that’s happening, we have a unique musical experience.
What places are you playing these days?
Currently we’re sticking closer to home here in Iowa. We’ve spent frozen nights sleeping in our van in Wisconsin winters. We’ve spent blistering nights literally using ice for pillows sleeping in our van in Florida. Traveling was a great experience that I cherish, but now I’m content playing close to home.