Running From the Chase
(Double Double Whammy)
Add date: 10.10.2023
Release date: 10.6.2023

Apple Music

“So, how to proceed?” Travis Harrington asks on the final track of Running From the Chase, the commanding new album from Truth Club. How do you move forward when the present moment is rife with mounting challenges — when you’re caught between the weight of the past and the uncertainty of the future? Running From the Chase was written in part through a time of intense personal hardship for Harrington, but it was through these struggles he and his bandmates gained a deeper appreciation of the power of their shared creative endeavor, both the cathartic release found in the dynamic squall of their music and in the friendships forged by this communal pursuit. Their album doesn’t have an easy answer to Harrington’s searching question, but under these songs’ bruising exteriors, you can hear the sound of a band looking towards one another to learn how to move forward.

Truth Club’s debut album, 2019’s Not An Exit, was an impressive set of tense, brooding post-punk tracks that established them as an exciting new voice out of Raleigh, North Carolina, landing them on Stereogum’s 2019 list of Best New Bands, where they were praised as “the wistful, nervy relatives of indie rock’s past and present.” Between making their first album and writing its follow-up, the band’s three original members — Harrington, plus drummer Elise Jaffe and guitarist/bassist Kameron Vann — added guitarist/bassist and singer Yvonne Chazal to their lineup. As Truth Club worked on the songs that would end up on Running From the Chase, they used the new line-up as an impetus to take a fresh look at their songwriting process. Each member focused on honing their individual voices, but as Jaffe puts it, also aimed to “hold space for criticism, critique, input, and inspiration from the rest of the band in any context.” You can hear that attention to detail on the propulsive “Siphon,” which seamlessly cycles between moments of thick distortion and stretches of beautiful, interwoven guitar lines, or on the cathartic and fuzzed-out “Blue Eternal,” where Vann and Harrington’s crushing guitars and Jaffe’s insistent drumming are offset by the sweetness of Chazal’s harmonies. Throughout Running From the Chase — whose title alludes to the need to balance one’s individual desires with external expectations and pressures — Harrington’s lyrics plunge into despair and frustration, confronting possibilities with a hint of hope and a strong undercurrent of dejection. The result is an album that’s sweeping and sophisticated, balancing considered introspection with a stunning, newly expanded sound.

Harrington’s experience with mental health challenges had an impact both on the album’s lyrical themes and on his writing process. He started writing many of the songs on Running From the Chase while dealing with a particularly acute period of depression, but after some distance and recovery, he was able to return to the half-finished songs with a new perspective.

“I struggle with bipolar disorder, and when I started writing these songs I was really struggling with it, so much so that I didn’t come close to finishing any of the songs at the time," Harrington explains. "When I began to regain some footing it was an interesting emotional exercise to go back and try to finish those thoughts while in a more grounded and clear mindframe. Trying to extract the ugly hopelessness and put it in this jar I can observe from time to time as a point of reference for what that looks like in my brain."

Unable to practice together in 2020, Harrington used this time to reevaluate where music fell among his priorities — whether the joys of committing to a band outweighed its difficulties. Harrington came to realize what a central role music has played in his life, and how even the challenges of playing in a band have helped him grow immensely: “Music has taught me what an enduring friendship looks like, how to maintain one, how to communicate ineffectively, how to improve upon that, how to be supportive,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s shown me anything worth devoting my time to is something that will present my strengths and weaknesses to me, no matter if I’m looking for them or not, and give me the space to confront them."

Truth Club recorded Running From the Chase with producer and engineer Alex Farrar (Wednesday, Snail Mail, Angel Olsen) at Asheville’s Drop of Sun Studios through the spring and summer of 2022. Farrar immediately made them feel right at home, which allowed the band to bring a sense of curiosity, commitment, and experimentation to the process — like adding the sounds of a game of musical chairs to “Break the Stones,” or Chazal and Jaffe running over some old hi-hats with a truck to achieve just the right tone for the powerful opener “Suffer Debt.” Dynamics were considered in songwriting as well as sequencing; off-kilter “77x” builds an eerie scene over a minimal slowcore foundation before the following track “Clover” thrusts into a playful headbanger. At Drop of Sun, the band was also joined by fellow North Carolinian Indigo De Souza, who contributed vocals to the end of the adventurous and ruminative “Exit Cycle.” Harrington has known De Souza since childhood, and says she’s one of the first people he knew who shared his desire to devote his life to music. “She is so kind and supportive, and I feel so glad our friendship has persisted in large part through our musical goals,” Harrington says.

Though Harrington’s lyrics are unsparing in their depiction of desolation throughout Truth Club’s new record, they aren't without moments of optimism. “It's one story, one need / still carried, shooting right through me,” he sings on the title track, “I hope I shape it into something sweet / to nourish one right in front of me.” Look closely, and that story could be Running From the Chase itself; it's the sound of a band leaning towards each other and choosing to proceed together.