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An Interview with Nikola Runjavec of Them Moose Rush + New Track “Stupid Face”

As part of our job, we listen to a lot of metal here at the Vault, so sometimes it’s refreshing when something slightly outside of the genre hits our inbox. As someone drawn to the musicianship required to play metal music, the compositional techniques and instrumentation used in progressive rock check the right boxes while offering a nice respite.

Croatia’s Them Moose Rush would certainly be considered progressive. They’ve been pushing the boundaries of rock music since 2011 with the release of two EPS and a full-length. They’ve also become well-known for hiding messages in their songs and using everyday sounds not heard in traditional recordings. This, topped with elements of glam and punk, makes them one of the more unique bands out there.

On March 9th they’ll release their second full-length Don’t Pick Your Noise via TMR Records. The album is chock-full of turbulent riffs coupled with a solid rhythm section and impressive vocals from Nikola Runjavec (think Jack White’s voice with Robert Plant’s range). To get you through until the album’s release date, check out our exclusive stream of their new track “Stupid Face” and then scroll down for our interview with Nikola on how the band got together, their new album, and more!

Indy Metal Vault: Thank you so much for doing this interview. I always like to start off with a little background information from the band. Can you tell us how you guys got together?

Nikola Runjavec: Nikola (guitar) and Branimir (bass) started jamming together back in high school, as we had pretty much identical taste for music. In college we realized we became skillful enough to make our own music, so we recorded some tunes, put it online and searched for a drummer. We were quickly contacted by Marinko also from our hometown Bjelovar, who just started to learn drums, but we liked him a lot, and 7 years later we are basically three best friends, with great musical chemistry, and practically spend most of our free time doing band related stuff.

Them Moose Rush Indy Metal Vault

IMV: Progressive music takes serious skill to pull off effectively. Do you have any formal musical training or education?

NR: We have zero musical training, except for the drummer who finished elementary music school for flute (lol). We are pretty much late bloomers in music as we started to learn our instruments towards the end of high school and are all self-taught.

We never meant to be “progressive” and don’t listen to such music, but somehow our creative juices don’t allow us to make typical music, and we were naturally lured to discover crazy time signatures and dissonance and stuff like that which keeps it interesting for us. We try to stay groovy and catchy at the same time. We get a lot of Mars Volta references, but honestly, we only discovered them after our first music was released and people started to say that a lot. I can’t listen to them to much now, even though I got hooked for some period and I appreciate them, but currently I prefer more bands like Soundgarden and Primus.

IMV: I thought it was really cool when I read that some of your songs contain hidden messages like Morse code. Why do you put these in your music and are there any ciphers hidden in the new album?

NR: We “typed” murder in Morse code using keyboards, towards the end of our song “Redrum” because it seemed an obvious thing to do. Redrum-Murder backwards… It’s a part of the song where we practically disintegrate any form, and only thing you can hold on to is a repeated pattern of one note which fits to the atmosphere and meaning of the song. It is obviously inspired by The Shining movie.

We like to do such things and they usually come spontaneously in the mixing process, where you hear your baby for the first time for real and get additionally inspired. It’s brings a lot of joy in the studio and a new non musical dimension to the whole process.

We did not put so many “hidden messages” in the new album, but we recorded a lot of everyday sounds to some parts to enhance the atmosphere. For example, there is some door knocking on “Dumadu Honey” which we deliberately put out of tempo, paned into one “headphone,” and it sounds very natural, to make you take off your headphones, and go open the doors, go back and realize you’ve been “tricked” by the band. Hopefully some listeners will notice and our goal is to put a smile on their face 😊

IMV: We’re premiering “Stupid Face” with this interview. What drew me to this track was that the vocals are a bit harsher and the chorus really stands out. Can you tell us how this track came together and what it represents?

NR: Well, we all have that one colleague at work who we can’t stand, who has a huge ego for no reason, and he additionally has a stupid face. 😊 It’s literally about that guy – a real life person, now luckily a former colleague. But I don’t take it to seriously, so the notes and the song atmosphere are positive. It’s kind of liberating to yell fuck you in a song, because I would never do that in real life.

IMV: The new album has a lot of guitar overdubs as well as keyboards. Are there any plans to add another member to the group for playing these songs live?

NR: Nice that you have noticed. No, we don’t plan to add new members. We believe the songs are interesting and have complex enough structures to sound full in basic rock trio setup. We also have pretty solid amount of pedals to make crazy sounds live.

IMV: What’s the music scene like in Bjelovar? What are some other acts in your city or in Croatia that you feel deserve more recognition?

NR: Bjelovar is a very small town with literary only 3-4 half active bands who make their own music. It’s practically becoming a rural part of Zagreb, so we ourselves also gravitate there completely, where music scene is much livelier. Personally, there is currently no band that I know of in Croatia which really impresses me and gets my juices flowing, but some worth mentioning are Seven That Spells, Chui, Lovely Quinces… It’s perhaps harsh to say, but it seems at least currently, that everybody gets exactly the amount of recognition they deserve – proportional to their creativity, efforts and genre audience size, which at the end seems right. What is really powerfull is that someone creates new taste in people, excitement, and that danger element which is really missing in general in this fast food music for stupid people world where importance of musical skill in any genre is dying. We hope we are making at least some difference, but at the end we just want to have fun and see where it takes us.

IMV: You’ve shared the stage with some pretty big acts such as The Pixies and Mars Red Sky. What was the one that you were most excited about and do you have any stories about them that you can share?

NR: It was pretty exciting to play as a completely unknown band before headliners Color Haze at Krach am Bach festival in Germany, where we literally had a big line of people waiting for the merch after the show, and no, they did not think we are Color Haze 😊.

Also, pretty huge for us was playing just before Kings Of Leon at In Music festival, even if it was not on the same stage, but timeline wise it was, so there was this river of people coming by at our stage to check us out.

We actually never met The Pixies, or Color Haze or Mars Red Sky, even when sharing the same festival day and behind the stage area, because the bigger bands are usually separated not to be bothered, but it was kind of nice to enter into a “merch selling battle” with the guy from Color Haze, which he probably did not realize, but it was a cool moment for us as complete newcomers. 😊

IMV: What’s next after the album is released? Are you going to do any touring to support it?

NR: Of course we are planning to play as many shows as possible throughout our region and the Europe as well to support our new album. We also have fresh new music, so we plan to record after that very soon.

IMV: I’ll let you have the last word? Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

NR: Don’t pick your noise! 😊

You can pick up Don’t Pick Your Noise March 9th via TMR Records. Connect with the band on Facebook here.

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