Classic hits from Kanye West, Weezer and OutKast serenaded Shippensburg University students’ eardrums as they sauntered into the Thought Lot Thursday night for a listening party held by SU junior Zach Geesaman and sophomore Luke Hershey.
“Cheers!” Senior Benjamin Clemer yelled from across the concrete-floored space.
The eclectic venue was filled with artwork from college students and performance posters.
A ping-pong match and Madden game occupied some, while others searched through the racks of Whisker’s Vinyl & Vintage Clothing located in the corner of the building as they awaited the Runaway Tunes’ presentation of their debut album, “Lonely Mr. Spaceman.”
The lights dimmed, and the music and games halted as white smoke began to fill the room. Attendees crowded the dance floor as two spotlights illuminated a TV monitor.
Hershey appeared onstage and talked to the crowd about the message of the album.
“We made this by sending stuff back and forth through the internet,” Hershey said, “This is an album about cycles and how the universe works in cycles too.”
Geesaman explained to the crowd how the music would play on the speakers while the visual presentation of the album would be streamed on a TV monitor located on the stage.
Members of the crowd swayed and held up iPhone lights as songs from Lonely Mr. Spaceman echoed off the walls of the Thought Lot.
The monitor showed scenes of Earth from the perspective of a satellite rotating in space, listeners were mesmerized as the changing psychedelic colors added to the narrative of the powerful musical lyrics of Runaway Tunes vocalist, Hershey.
“We like to call it the new rock n’ roll,” Hershey said, “there are no rules and the one’s that do exist? Let’s break them.”
Geesaman emphasized that the album is one that reflects loneliness and the ability to transmute those negative energies. Hershey delved deeper into the album’s theme and how it references his recent life experiences.
“Campus life can be lonely, you’re walking around campus by myself and doing homework yourself,” Hershey said. “This last year has been about learning how to be comfortable alone and grabbing the bull by the horns.”
Runaway Tune’s reflected on those who inspired their album Lonely Mr. Spaceman.
“Kanye, for the mentality and the confidence, but sonically we pulled heavily from Jack White, David Bowie and from literature,” Geesaman said.
“Brian Wilson was the guru and he was able to capture fusion of complexity of music while making something popular,” Hershey said, “[like Wilson] we’d like to make something accessible but also cutting edge.”
Hershey and Geesaman are old friends and colleagues from a local movie theatre and bonded mutually over movies and music. After drifting apart after leaving hometowns they migrated back to Shippensburg and to one another last summer to hang out.
“We drifted apart for a while and met up in August initially to make write a play, then Zach mentioned on a whim, like late in the night, he says ‘Hey, let’s make an album too,” Hershey said.
For the next three months they saw each other one time while creating Lonely Mr. Spaceman. Hershey explained he would create the framework of a song, send it to Geesaman and then wait for his band mate to do his “thing” shortly to be posted on Soundcloud.
“There are no organic instruments on the album, all the beats are electronic, and we have synthesizers to make new sound,” Hershey said.
Geesaman agreed with Hershey, explaining that the album has a relatable narrative, but it is far from what anyone has heard before.
In the future, Runaway Tunes is developing a live show set to launch during the winter break that will reflect the album in more of an art and visual presentation, rather than a concert or show.
“We didn’t let anyone stifle our creativity, and we got to make an album because of that,” Geesaman said.