Most emerging bands are lucky to land a spot on a late-night show. But Runner Runner has snagged something even better: the endorsement of a prominent late-night host.
The band will release its self-titled debut in January through a joint record deal with Merovingian Music, Capitol/EMI and Clear Entertainment, a new label under David Letterman's media company Worldwide Pants.
Clear Entertainment began in 2008 as a management division of Worldwide Pants, headed by manager Jim Recor with tentative plans to develop it into a full-fledged comedy label. But Recor took a musical change of direction when his stepdaughter, Lucy, introduced him to pop-punk quintet Runner Runner. Recor tipped the band to longtime associate and Merovingian Music founder Jack Ponti, who agreed there was something special about the group.
"They're great songwriters and they have an extraordinary work ethic. Sometimes you just see something you think is special and that is very hard to define," Ponti says.
After two years of managing the band, and with direct approval from Letterman, Recor launched Clear Entertainment as a label entity with Runner Runner as its flagship act in early 2010. Clear then signed a joint venture with Merovingian and Capitol/EMI to help push the group.
With its name already circulating as the flagship act on Letterman's first record label, Runner Runner released the single "So Obvious" on March 16 and began touring to promote it. On Sept. 27, the members finally met their label boss when they performed the song on "Late Show With David Letterman." Two weeks after the performance, "So Obvious" peaked at No. 37 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart.
The importance of the Letterman connection hasn't been lost on the band. "People like David Letterman are backing what we're doing creatively and it just feels amazing to have support from all these people," lead singer Ryan Ogren says.
Runner Runner isn't counting on the Letterman name alone, though. The band has been on the road nonstop since the summer and is finishing up a tour with 2am Club before returning to the road with fellow pop-punkers Forever the Sickest Kids in late November and early December.
"The long plan is they will stay on the road until they can't breathe any more," Ponti says.
The band has also embraced social networking. In the past six months Runner Runner has increased its Facebook fan count from 10,000 to nearly 80,000 through various interactive campaigns. The group posts photos of meet-and-greets and concerts-where fans can tag themselves in the audience-and also makes the occasional house call, performing an acoustic set in the living room of a lucky fan.
"I have never worked with a band that has had so much band-to-fan engagement," EMI VP of marketing Tara Chiara says. "They are our best marketing tool."
While Letterman has given Runner Runner a head start, the band knows it takes much more than that to cross the finish line. "It's almost a challenge to look ahead when we've been in this whirlwind of landmarks and milestones since the springtime," guitarist Peter Munters says. "We're just taking it as it comes and really working hard out here."