Take yourself back to 1986 and picture yourself walking down a games arcade. The soundtrack to your strut is the catchy and hypnotic sound of the driving game Outrun. Dan and Josh, from the electro-synth rock party band Outrun, thought that a song they created whilst having a jam session one day sounded so much like the arcade game that they decided to name both the song and their band after the game.
Beginning their musical experimentation in 2001, Outrun found much of their musical inspiration from the sound tracks of 80’s b grade films. When referring to these soundtracks Dan states that ‘Much of it is made by unknown musicians, or as with John Carpenter, by the filmmaker him or herself.”
” These days it seems most film scores or synced music is commercially tied in and maybe has more to do with record company ties and placement. We love the earnestness of much of the 80’s cheesy action music. You know those kinds of riffs and solos that conjure images of some dude on a cliff with long hair blowing in the wind and a flying V guitar soloing as if his particular solo right then and there is saving the world.”
” It’s not only B grade 80’s film s that inspire us though, any of Dario Argento’s films (I guess some might argue that they are b grade, but the soundtracks certainly are not). Anything by Giorgio Moroder, John Carpenter, Vangelis.’
Proclaiming that they are not good-looking enough to get anywhere writing cheesy commercial electro pop. And that they are not young enough to know what’s cool amongst the kids they try and make tunes that stand up for themselves.
‘We like our sounds to be interesting and atmospheric. Ideally we would like our tracks to be enjoyed by someone lying on their lounge room floor as well as on the dance floor. I guess our sound originates from Art Rock, Techno, Disco, Electro House, Electro Rock, Minimal Electro. Dan and I had a band years ago called Nautilus that was very Trans Am, Kraftwerk, Goblin, Shellac inspired. It seems like Outrun is a natural progression from Nautilus.’
Outrun have been compared to the likes of other Australian musical acts such as to the Presets, Midnight Juggernauts and Cut Copy. But when asked who they would least like to be compared to they commented that it would suck if they were compared to some dated band because good electro doesn’t date.
What they do love and who they would love to be compared to include Joy Division, New Order, Suicide, Goblin comparisons. ‘I think we try to write classic tracks rather than cutting edge ones.’
Electro rock is riding a wave of popularity right now, and this has greatly excited Outrun as they no longer fear getting beaten up whilst playing in the regional areas.
When asked why they think Australians are embracing this electro culture more these days Dan states ‘ I think Australia has been awash with rock/pop bands for so long I think we are simply catching up with the rest of the world in terms of electronic music being a major player here.”
This smooth sailing for Outrun in the Electro world has not meant smooth sailing for them in the rest of the world. Outrun has experienced some ‘security’ issues with commercial flying, the Australian Federal Police and suspicious activity. Trying to explain what had happened between Outrun and Plane security Dan explained
‘Well, we had played a show in Sydney and I hadn’t slept for a couple of days. I was very drunk when I got on the plane and happened to be seated at the emergency exit door (which is the best by the way because you have so much leg room). I fell asleep as soon as we took off but somewhere over Canberra I awoke to a woman yelling “he’s trying to open the emergency exit door!!!!!” it was a silent moment in the plane so you can imagine the kind of panic that she caused. I was simply dreaming and fumbling with my hands. I had managed to pull off the plastic cover over the handle and then had my hands on the handle while I was waking up. It would have looked bad. But really it is impossible to open one of those doors by yourself, especially while seated.
“Anyway the stewards grabbed me and took me up the back of the plane. I thought that was it and that it was all a bit weird but when the plane landed, five federal police stormed on before anyone had even got up out of their seats, dragged me off to the cop car parked under the wing of the plane and had me under arrest , hands on the car, legs apart and being frisked with kevlar gloves while the passengers filed past pointing at me.”
” The police thought I was psychotic and a terrorist. I was interrogated and marched all the way through the airport. It was all most unpleasant. It made the news in Sydney though which is pretty cool. ‘
And on with the music! With tracks such as the unrequited love song ‘Runnaround’, Outrun proves to value lyrics as much as they are dedicated to their electro beats. When talking about their lyrics Dan comments ‘ I guess I’m the only one who knows the real story behind the lyrics I write. Runnaround (we misspelt it on the first pressing, it should actually be Runaround) to me isn’t really a love song. It’s a bit of a mash of different ideas, and the lyrics in that song aren’t that considered. “I lie awake with you” is kinda referring to amphetamine induced insomnia, “Now you see the stars it’s easy” refers to an Ex girlfriend getting a lot of recognition for her music and at the time it felt like nothing was working for me.
As a song writer Dan believesin the importance of lyrics for anchoring listeners to the song . However he also believes that vocals are not necessary.’ We are at ease writing and performing instrumentals as well. Me especially because I actually get to play something rather than dancing around onstage looking like a dick head. ‘
2009 sees big things coming from Outrun. They are recording the next album Dec 8 in Wilsons Promontory so the first couple of months will see them staring a laptops for days on end mixing and producing. They say they are super excited about this next album because with Mark on bass he has added a whole new element to their song writing and jamming has become much more exciting. They are taking a break from live shows until they go overseas in April to Berlin.
Finally, with video games playing such a vital role in their band, the video game of choice for the band would be difficult to choose.
‘Dan is always playing FIFA Soccer and Grand Theft Auto (both on X Box) . I gave it up when I finally beat him (once, at soccer). I’m more of a pinball guy, actually when I lived in Geelong I was weirdly fanatical about pin ball (pinball machine graphics are a big inspiration for us).”
” Though I was a video game nut when I was a kid. Wonder Boy, Black Dragon, Bobble Bobble, Hyper Olympics, Street Fighter, Outrun, Shinobi, Unreal Tournament, Doom, sit down Racing games as well. I actually had a Commodore 64 and later I had an Atari ST. I finally bought a Play Station but I never had any games. I bought it to use this music program that came out for it. That’s when I started making beats. ‘