Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Tru DIY Award

Tru DIY Special Award
Runaround Kids
2012 Release Schedule

Congratulations to Runaround Kids for being crowned our first ever recipients of the Tru DIY accolade. It sounds pretty good doesn't it? But what exactly does it mean, and what have they done to deserve such praise?

When compiling Rhubarb Bomb's Stuff Of The Year I wanted an award that celebrated something more than a great record or gig. A truly special effort that epitomises the DIY ideals Rhubarb Bomb holds so dear. Tru DIY should be about doing something above and beyond the usual, about taking risks, doing what you love for fun of it but above all doing things your own way.

Runaround Kids did this, and more, in 2012. But, without wanting to deflate their elation in anyway; this isn't an award for the music. Sure, the way they have developed as a band since the success of their debut album (and the expectations that followed it) is admirable and wonderful in equal measure. Their sound - both on record and on stage - has progressed and they have undoubtedly become a better, more fully formed band. The music they have released in 2012 has perfectly illustrated the joy of this transition.

But even those people out there who don't rate them quite so highly must appreciate the brilliance of their 2012 release schedule and it is for this incredibly fan friendly - but also very shrewd - approach that they clinch this accolade. In case you missed it, this is how it ran.

At the start of 2012 you had the opportunity to sign up for their 2012 singles bundle for a ridiculously respectable £12. Those who had faith in the band were rewarded over the next 12 months with;

- A T-Shirt / CD Single
- A Split 12" Vinyl featuring three songs by them and three from We Are Losers
- Their own comic
- A split cassette with The Spills
- An end of year album compiling all the above tracks on CD, plus two new ones and another comic.

It was a move that harks back to a time when physical products were treasured. Each individual item was special in its own way, carefully thought out and constructed. It was a pleasure to have them arrive through the letterbox over the course of the year.

In this way, it was also a very smart move as a promotional campaign. If the band had just released the end of year compilation at some point over the last twelve months as an album, it would have received some very positive reviews and perhaps they would have followed it with a tour. And that would have been about it. Instead, this drip feeding of material kept the band fresh in everyone's minds throughout the year.

It was all backed up with creative and practical ways to build a fanbase. Fans who bought the bundle were encouraged to send a photo of themselves wearing the T-shirt. They put an exclusive track on our fifth birthday compilation. There were more interviews with blogs, tour diaries and some fantastic festival shows. The fact that one of their number has moved from Wakefield to Glasgow has been something of a blessing; their live appearances are now slightly less frequent making each one far more special.

The award is theirs because I think they have straddled the two key facets of being DIY. First of all, they have created an awesome series of releases completely on their own terms that showcase their passion, virtuosity and determination. Secondly - and this is the one that is often overlooked - they have created an imaginative and practical approach to releasing them, one that is as business smart as it is creative. DIY doesn't mean releasing songs you record in your bedroom to your friends. It means operating in the music industry, existing as an artist, but on your own terms. That is harder than ever to do these days, but Runaround Kids have done it with style.

I am sure the band would wholeheartedly agree that none of this would have been possible without the support and input of their record label Philophobia Music. I saw the sheer exhaustion and frustration on label boss Rob Dee's face as he attempted to print out all the comics on his home printer in time to post them out. But I also heard his tales of the band's Irish tour and it was clear these were the kind of things he'd long dreamed of for the label and its bands.

This singles bundle would not have been possible for either band or label without a lot of foundation building over a number of years. That kind of determination is essential in a place like Wakefield; it won’t happen over night, or after one EP. You can never rest, never stop pushing things forward. It probably takes three times the effort in Wakefield to cover the same ground elsewhere but this proves exciting things can be achieved and that a creative DIY approach is a viable method.

And the best part? When these guys do make it big time, I've got LOADS of their stuff to stick on eBay. I'm gonna make a fortune...

Dean Freeman

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