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INTERVIEW: LEE RUNESTAD of I Prevail – October 2015

| 24 October 2015 | Reply

Fearless Records seems to grab all the really good young rock bands that are making their way up through the ranks, with one of these bands being Detroit, MI-based I Prevail.  These guys seemed to skyrocket after recording and releasing a punk/metal version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.”  Taking almost of all of 2015 to hit the road and tour, these guys are closing the year with some local midwest shows, including one near and dear to drummer Lee’s heart. We were abel to grab some of his time while he was in Utah with the band supporting Hollywood Undead on their current tour…


Toddstar: I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule for us.

Lee: Yeah, man, definitely.

Toddstar: You guys have had so much going on this year. Just looking at touring, let’s step back from that, if you don’t mind. I mean, you guys start out the year on the road supporting Amaranthe. You guys seem to be a good fit with them. How did that whole tour wind up for you guys?

Lee: It was awesome. That was a little more people than our first tour. We had the Heart vs. Mind Tour. Then we did the tour with Amaranthe. It fit really well; it was a lot of fun. They’re from Sweden, so they taught us some culture, some Swedish swear words. There’s also a band from Finland on there. We got to learn a little culture from them, so it was a lot of fun. The crowds were awesome, were really into it, so that was pretty cool.

Toddstar: That’s cool. Then you guys move from that, and you get into your own headlining tour. You guys went out on the Crossroads Tour. Was there anything you were able to leverage from that first tour and say, now we’re headliners, and this is our gig, this is what we do.

Lee: I mean, I feel like it’s such a learning process the whole way through. It’s tough to say we learned one or two things. I think you just pick up things as you go. Even on this tour we’re on with Hollywood Undead right now, it’s like we’re still learning things whether it’s just certain things on the business side, or it’s maybe how they address the crowd in certain ways. It’s a constant learning experience, every single tour.

Toddstar: You mentioned the Hollywood Undead tour. As soon as this wraps up, not as soon but not long after, you guys are going out on another headlining holiday run and doing some local stuff for you guys. I mean, you’re hitting different crowds that you’ve mentioned, with Amaranthe being from Sweden. Hollywood Undead, obviously West Coast, you guys being Midwest boys being right here from Detroit area. What’s it like for you guys culturally to be able to get out with these different bands and just learn?

Lee: It’s pretty awesome. I mean, if you rewind to 8 months ago, we were all waiters. Brian was a pizza delivery guy. This whole thing was so new to us that, I mean, we were just like empty cups. It was like filling an empty cup, we were like sponges. It’s just like a constant learning experience. It’s pretty cool.

Toddstar: Again, stepping back a little bit before we catch up to now, “Blank Space,” this thing really just kicked it off for you guys. As of this morning, you’re over 16.5 million views. What’s that like to know that you guys have been viewed by 16 million pairs of eyes?

Lee: It’s pretty insane. I remember when we first released it; we were chilling all in this little apartment. We were all on our laptops. We launched it, and we were like, guys, guys, this thing has had a thousand views. We were like, let’s really push this thing. Let’s get this thing to 10,000 views. We were so pumped. We finally got it to 10,000 views. We were all in a circle jumping around just high-fiving each other. I actually don’t even know if I remember the million mark, but it was just like … It just kept going and going. Now it’s just like, how’s it even happening? I don’t even know how to register it, honestly.

Toddstar: That’s great. It’s good to see young guys who really care and are really digging what’s happening to them. Speaking of that, you guys released the Heart vs. Mind EP. How do you find that that’s perceived by the crowds? Are they still eating it up, or are they clamoring for new tunes? What’s going on with that?

Lee: Yeah, they’re definitely, I think everybody’s eager to hear some more stuff, but they’re definitely still just going just crazy for what we’ve been playing. It’s been awesome. This tour especially… all of the tours have been great, but just to see so many people singing the words back to us, even though we’re the first band out of three, and just seeing just the majority of the crowd signing the lyrics back to us, it’s pretty cool. They’re definitely really into it. It’s awesome.


Toddstar: You mentioned you are the first band out of three on this tour, and like I said before, this year you were on the Crossroads where you were the headliner, and you’re getting ready to do the Holiday Run where you’re the headliner. How do you guys just look back or ramp up a set? How do you take what you normally do and cram it into 20, 30, 40 minutes when you normally to an hour or more?

Lee: It’s definitely a job. When we go out and we headline, like, we’ll have a whole light show. We’ll have all of these extra things we do, and then, yeah, then you’ve got to scale back. With Hollywood and Deb, we scale back to like 30 minutes. We cut pretty much talking. We just fly right into the next song. It’s pretty fast paced, which is cool. I like it both ways. I really have no preference. It’s cool both ways. It’s a challenge either way, so it’s both fun.

Toddstar: Beats a day job, right?

Lee: Right, yeah. Absolutely.

Toddstar: You guys are on a pretty good label with Fearless, and you guys have a lot of your peers on that label. How is that working out for you guys? Is there anybody out there that you really dig out of Fearless that you guys would like to hit the road with?

Lee: Absolutely. I think a big dream of mine, personally, would be to tour with Pierce The Veil sometime. I’ve always dug them a lot. There are actually quite a few bands on their roster that I hope that we tour with at some point. The Color Morale, The Word Alive, Blessthefall would be cool. I’m trying to think who else… As it is, we met those guys at the APMAs, and they were super nice. That would also be pretty cool. Yeah. Hopefully down the road we’ll get to throw together like a Fearless tour or something. That would be fun.

Toddstar: We’re coming to the end of October, and starting in November, you guys have a great push going on with the Crossroads video – it will be playing in Journey stores all across the country.

Lee: Yeah, that’s big thanks to management. They definitely hooked that up with Journey. That’s pretty cool. I’m excited. I’m not even sure when that goes live, but I’m definitely going to be hitting up some Journeys, to go in there and just stare, just see what it’s all about. I’m going to go stake out the TV, and just wait for it to come on.

Toddstar: If you give clues to anybody who you are and what you’re doing there?

Lee: Right. ‘Hey, guys, look! That’s me!’

Toddstar: With that, the exposure that you guys are getting through the different tours, through the link with Journey, the punk release of “Blank Space,” things like that. How do you see your guys’ career evolving from here? You’ve done an EP, you guys are probably out there just writing stuff as you go? What’s the next step for you guys?

Lee: We’re definitely going to carve out some time for writing. We’ve been touring just non-stop for like 8 months. I think we’ve got that portion of the business on lock right now, so it’s time to start catering to the new album. We’ve got to definitely carve out some time for that. That’s the big goal for us right now is to get moving on that.

Toddstar: Cool. I know the band is Detroit based. You guys are going to be hitting pretty close to home in Flint at the world famous Machine Shop [ December.

I PREVAIL dec 2015_0001

Lee: Yeah, I can’t wait. That’s actually my hometown. Everybody else is around Detroit, but I went to Flint Powers. That’s my hometown. The Machine Shop is, I’ve never played it, so this is a dream come true actually. I’ve been to the Machine Shop probably too many times to count. I can’t even remember. I’ve had PE, CKY, It Lies Within; I’ve been there a ton of times. That’s my hometown venue.

Toddstar: Awesome. I know they are pumped to have you guys in there. They were very excited when they found out I was going to talk to you guys. What is it about coming home to play a show? Like you said, it’s closer to Detroit, but for you, it is the Machine Shop. What is it like playing a hometown show and just showing everybody I told you I could do it?

Lee: That’s pretty much it. That’s it right there, so awesome. A lot of time, your family will show up and you will have the support of your family to be like “Hey mom, look, I’ve been playing drums for 10 years in shitty bands, and look at me now!” It’s cool. The crowd goes nuts for hometown shows, just like on another level. The mosh pits are just usually insane, so that’s pretty cool. I don’t know. There’s definitely something about a hometown show that’s just a whole different experience.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you’ve been playing drums 10 years. Who made you want to pick up a pair of sticks and beat the shit out of something?

Lee: That was definitely my mom. I was asking for a guitar for like years and years. I’m like “Mom, I want to play guitar. I want to play guitar.” Christmas came around, and she got me a drum set. I’m like “all right, screw it. I’ll play drums, whatever.” I just went to town on drums and that was it. It’s all downhill from there.

Toddstar: Very cool. Looking back over the last couple of years, if you could pick a moment or 2 that you would view as a high, something at this point would be what you would want to be remembered for, even as a drummer or just a contributing member of I Prevail? What are a couple highlights over the last couple of years personally?

Lee: That’s tough. I don’t know. Something to be remembered for… I think our overall message that we want is just an overall positivity. Just like the name I Prevail is something that we landed on. We know Michigan goes through some tough times economically, just in a lot of different ways. We wanted something that’s like people can latch onto positivity. That’s really where we drew our name from. I think that’s what we want people to remember us by is that we want just a positive message overall.

Toddstar: Final note, Lee. If it wasn’t “Blank Space,” if you could pick another tune that you guys would’ve covered that you guys think you could just nail the wall, what would it have been?

Lee: I don’t know. I think something from Eminem would’ve been cool, like maybe “Lose Yourself,” something like that. That could’ve been a cool jam.

Toddstar: Maybe that’s something you guys need to throw into that live set.

Lee: We could always feature Eminem on the next album, if he ever gets a hold of this or hears, that offers available.

Toddstar: I’ll do what I can to push it. Listen Lee, I appreciate you taking time out. You guys be safe out on the road. Enjoy Utah, and the beginning of December, we’ll see you guys back home, especially you here, in Flint, Michigan, at the Machine Shop. Looking forward to a killer show.

Lee: Hell yeah. Can’t wait. Nice talking to you, Todd.

Toddstar: All right, Lee. We’ll talk to you soon.

Lee: All right, see ya.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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