May 5, 2009

Left Coast Eisteddfod - An Interview With Runaway Norm

An interview with Runaway Norm who will be appearing at the Left Coast Eisteddfod in Portland Oregon 2009. The Left Coast Eisteddfod is a Welsh performing arts festival. It's purpose is to provide a shop-window for contemporary and traditional Welsh culture in the North Western USA. It should also be one helluva party.

Americymru: Ok...who is Norm and why is he running and who from?

Geoff: Norm is a 10 year old Golden retriever who during our first couple practices loved to runaway in pursuit of female canines in the local neighborhood. A real Romeo he is. We once lost him for a few days as he chased tail only to find him through an online search of the county animal controls web site. Poor guy been picked up by the animal control so like a good friend we bailed him out.

Americymru: How did the band come to be formed and how long have you been playing together?

Geoff: We've been together for about four years now. Put together through a series of six degrees of separation. Tygh Colton (Guitar/Vocals) and Geoff Gillam (Drums/Percussion/Vocals) started their friendship in Jr. High School where each played in the school band but then went on to different colleges. Tygh met Matt Lavoie (Lead Guitar) at Oregon State where Matt and Tygh became Sigma Chi fraternity brothers and eventually played in a band together. The fraternity connection continued as Tygh was introduced to Nick Montgomery (Lead Vocals) through another chapter of Sigma Chi at University of Oregon. Fast forward to a Monday night in March 2005 and our first open mic performance. Tygh had called Geoff to play percussion for a 2 hour acoustic set with Nick, Matt, and himself. Through the fraternal networking of friends we brought about 100+ people. We played through a lot of nerves but had good feedback and the pub booked us for a weekend gig that night. Through another fraternity connection we found our missing link in Mike Yesenofski (Bass) and really took shape as a full band. Mike brought so much more musically to the group with his music experience and studio production background. We started writing more music, playing more shows and eventually purchased our own studio where we record and self produce all of our material.

Runaway Norm Portland Oregon

Americymru: Who would you count amongst your foremost musical influences?

Geoff: I grew up with Jazz and 80's pop. Tygh was influenced with Steve Miller and Boston. The rest of the guys would probably mention anything from Oingo Boingo to The Beatles and Guster. I'd say the five of us really see influences in our own music through groups like Led Zepplin, Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Guster.

Americymru: How do you rate the current music scene in Portland? Would you say it was healthy? What more could be done to gain exposure for local bands?

Geoff: The Portland music scene is growing everyday. We've watched groups like Calobo play at the Crystal Ballroom and in the last year The Decemberists and The Shins. It seems like each year we hear another local group opening the ears of the nation. I think Portland's got a good music scene especially on the Indie side. Locally a lot of bands know each other and support each other. We play at the same spots and have crossover fan bases. If you can grow the fan base through word of mouth you know you're doing something right. The media outlets available to network are a great start but I would also love to see more local music festivals. There are some good opportunities through the local media to gain exposure but it's all about growing your fan base and music festivals are a great way to bring the cross over fan bases together.

Americymru: Several band members are of Celtic heritage ( Irish/Welsh ). Are there any Celtic influences in your music?

Geoff: Let's see, we have a mandolin and drink Guinness and Jameson on occasion. Oh, and our first gig was at a place called "The Dublin Pub". Coincidental influences? Maybe?

Americymru: Who writes most of the bands material?

Geoff: We all contribute to the writing process. Mike tends to write a lot of our melodies but we have each introduced a song of our own at one point or another. If a song doesn't have lyrics Nick and I (Geoff) usually work through that process. New music is one of the best parts of being in this group. The excitement of creating a new song and playing that for the first time for someone is always a highlight.

Americymru: Any plans for live performances in the near future ( A plug for the Eisteddfod is perfectly acceptable )

Geoff: You can find all of our show dates on line at We're very excited to play at Eisteddfod this year. To play at the Crystal Ballroom and share our music with the crowd and other artists will be a great experience for us. Get ready to dance on air with Runaway Norm.

Americymru: Any ambitions to tour in Europe?

Geoff: If we all toured Europe I'm not sure we would end up in the same country or even bring any instruments. One guy might be in the Alps with a backpack, another in Ireland with a set of golf clubs, maybe a glass of wine in France or Italy. Our music aspirations in Europe are not on the horizon but that's not to say if the passports and opportunities aligned we wouldn't board the plane. If we do tour Europe we'll defiantly have bring Norm a treat when we get home.

Americymru: Where can people hear/purchase your music?

Geoff: You can find the music of Runaway Norm on iTunes,, or on MySpace as well as our live shows.

Americymru: Any other message for the members and readers of Americymru.

Geoff: We hope you enjoy our music and come raise a pint with us Friday, August 21st, 2009 at Eisteddfod in Portland, Oregon.

Interview by Ceri Shaw Email

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