FEATURE: Run Logan Run’s Debut Album, The Delicate Balance of Terror

Run Logan Run
Photo Credit: Paul Blakemore

The energy Run Logan Run put into their music is palpable and the duo’s debut album, The Delicate Balance of Terror, is an engrossing blend of precise instrumentation and raw power. Martin Chilton caught up with Run Logan Run for LondonJazz News. 

Andrew Neil Hayes (saxophones/FX) and Dan Johnson (drum kit/percussion) met by chance four years ago at a funk jam session in Bristol and Johnson recalls: “It was a really open session and Andy asked whether we wanted to jam again. I didn’t realise it was just us, initially, because I thought he had a full band in mind! But we did an improved gig a few weeks later and just kept going from there.”

Both bring an eclectic background to their musical partnership. As Johnson explains: “I played drums as a teenager. My dad used to drum as a hobby but stopped after my sister and I were born. I was fascinated by the drums he left in the loft. I got some individual lessons in school and went to music college and studied in Bristol.”

He was also listening to a wide range of musicians, from experimental drummers such as Zach Hill and Brian Chippendale, to jazz legends such as Count Basie’s band member Sonny Payne, Max Roach and post-bop star Elvin Jones. “I was open to everything and listening to as much as possible. The internet is really helpful having so much old footage you can check out,” the 27-year-old adds.

Hayes, who is 30, describes his musical journey as “odd”. He grew up in a house where his dad enjoyed listening to classic rock and decided to take up an instrument at school. “I didn’t listen to saxophone players until I had already been playing for about five years, which sounds totally ludicrous. At that time, I was listening to world music and heavy metal. I do remember listening in amazement the first time I heard John Coltrane. Then I branched out to listening to people such as Archie Shepp.”

Now, through a shared passion for improvisation, spiritual jazz and heavier experimental music, Run Logan Run are forging their own path in crossover jazz.

The band’s name comes from the 1976 sci-fi film Logan’s Run starring Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Johnson jokes that he didn’t get round to seeing the movie until recently but always liked Andy’s choice for the band name.

The name seems apt for the album. One character in the film says, “I am more than machine. More than man. More than a fusion of the two,” and that could describe the instrumental composition The Delicate Balance of Terror. “In a way it’s about the idea of people against technology and how they influence each other and the whole world of artificial intelligence,” says Johnson. The theme and the title has an eerie relevance for the world of 2018.

They work totally collaboratively, writing the music first in the practice room and then working up sections to sound the way they want, before arranging the saxophone and drum parts. They use working titles for the songs and assign the potent names (Death is Elsewhere, Post-Human and Cleansing, for example) once the songs are recorded.

The Delicate Balance of Terror was recorded live at Stoke Newington’s Total Refreshment Centre and produced by Dan Leavers and Max Hallett of the London band The Comet Is Coming. Hayes says: “That was a really brilliant process. We had a meeting with Dan and Max about six months before we went in and then turned up it was really casual in a way they got the sounds we wanted straight away. We tracked it and then went away and didn’t hear it for three months. I think the only thing we changed from that mix was a fade-out on one of the songs.”

The album comes out on 4 May and is being promoted with a European and UK-wide tour that includes a date at London’s Under The Bridge venue in July.

Are the live gigs full of improvisation? “The shows are like the album on steroids,” says Hayes. “They are quite a few levels up, sometimes really loud and then really quiet. The dynamic range is really pushed. A lot of the sections are heavily improvised within a framework. There are parts where we don’t know what will happen.”

Johnson says they relish keeping the music “dynamic, heavy and full of noise” and then contrasting that with a subtler energy.

They are rightly proud of their album and Hayes says it has come at a time when he is regaining his connection to music.

“The key word for Run Logan Run is intensity, in all its different guises,” adds Hayes. “I guess for a while I became a bit disillusioned by some of the music that was being put out, because it had its edges smoothed off and it was just a homogenous easy-to-sell product. When Dan and I play together we reach an intensity with whatever emotion is channelling through the music at that time. Then we push it as hard as it can go.”

The Delicate Balance of Terror’ is out on 4 May. Details of their tour can be found at: Run Logan Run

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