Long after releasing their self-titled EP in 2014, Runway Crimes has just debuted their long-anticipated 11-track album entitled Familiarity at Social House Makati. The band formed in the latter part of 2009 with a different lineup. They were just a group of friends who decided to form a band because of their passion for music. After a few member changes and brief hiatus, the band decided to work on their first ever album.
More than just charming faces and skins covered in tattoos, the musicians – frontman Paolo Tabuena, keyboardist Philip Verzosa, guitarists Chaco Cruz and Matthew Warren, bassist Martin Hocson and drummer Paolo Owyong – are definitely more than meets the eye. They started recording at Glasstone Studio in mid-2017 which was engineered by Normand Yu. Subsequently, the production was led by Emil De La Rosa of Campsite Recordings.
This full-length release is a collection of experiences that also features relatable songs and harmonic music elements. Familiarity is a body of work that plays around genres such as Rock, New Wave and Soul. Titled 2600 and The Astronaut, these two tracks of the album include collaborations with Steve Badiola of Typecast and Gabby Alipe of Urbandub. This album moves into expanded organic and layered synthetic sounds, often stirring hybrid which is reminiscent of the post-hardcore and pop punk era.
Born from the MTV generation, the lyrics were written by the uncanny duo, Tabuena and Verzosa. In the course of the four-year span, the words stem from personal experiences, melodic musical palette and fascination with film and literature. With dynamic chord progression and a powerful balance of constructed sounds, Runway Crimes opens up to cinematic soundscapes and headbanging tunes that will evoke a sense of nostalgia to the early 2000s rock fans and at the same time reintroduce this sound to a younger generation.
The lyrics of the songs tell interesting tales, from loving to losing everything, feelings that give you a sense of familiarity and nostalgia whenever you listen to each track. The song 2600 resonates with almost everyone who has loved and lost, from confusion, grief, conceding, to letting go. The Astronaut is about a loved one passing away unexpectedly and Strangers is about spending the night with someone you may never see again. Maybe in Another World is all about being infatuated with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you. These songs were filled with longing, regret, sudden loss and hope.
Sic Bo is a reference to an unequal game of chance and it maps out an individual’s journey about risking everything that he has, losing them, going in circles and starting from the bottom, similar to sheep that have gone astray. Much like Identity, encompassing the feeling of being lost and not knowing what to do with your life, solely trusting the process.
Avalon talks about how some people are so good at being manipulative and we let them rule us. A song that was inspired from the card game “Avalon.” Vertigo is about being afraid of things that haven’t happened yet. Tabuena mentioned that he struggled a lot as a college student and often anticipated failure in some of the classes he took.
Portraits was based on the movie “Closer” starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and Natalie Portman. The song particularly covered the scene where Roberts’ character took pictures of Portman’s character, capturing her emotions in the photographs. This is a song that particularly has a special place in Tabuena’s heart since he is a photographer. It was chosen as the last track of the album because of its anthemic ending.
Unchartered Waters is an unexpected track in the album. A subtle and intentional misuse that should have been uncharted, but since it’s a personal anecdote of Philip, the title was kept that way. Unchart(er)ed Waters seamlessly move into alternative R&B territory blended with layered synthetic sounds, the only track in the album that was not punctuated with heavy rock and owes as much as to DVSN and M83 as it does to retrowave forebears Anoraak and The Midnight. This track unveils a story of getting to know someone before you even meet them, just like exploring and discovering a foreign island. Unchartered Waters is similar to Familiarity, sweeping the entire album with a synthwave and electronic feel.
The local rock act aims to further promote their signature sound and Familiarity is their stepping stone. Familiarity nudges listeners through a gamut of self-discovery, love, loss, infatuation, deception, lust, despair, rise and fall, blanketing every lyric with a sense of familiarity. Taking music one step further, these tracks sound like their home base but at the same time it also gives listeners excitement and unfamiliarity of what their next album will sound like.
Runway Crimes’ Familiarity is distributed by Ditto Music. It is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, iTunes Store and Google Play.
Photos by Denise Magtoto