“Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down and they all led me straight back home to you,” Leslie Bosson sings on The Running Kind’s cover of The Return of the Grievous Angel, which appears toward the end of their newest recording, The Girl For All The World. Gram Parsons' classic country rumination on the many paths to home is a natural for a band that has come together from so many diverse musical routes.
Matt and Leslie did share other roots, though. Friends, but not sweethearts, the two grew up together in the rural western Massachusetts town of Williamstown. Though they sang in the Mt. Greylock Regional High School choir together, Leslie’s the first to admit that performing really wasn’t on her radar yet. “While we both hung out in the same circle, Matt was the one who went out for all the solos and leads in the high school musicals,” says Leslie. “The mere thought of uttering a single note without eighty of my closest symphonic classmates joining me… well let’s just not go there.” After high school graduation, Leslie and Matt went their separate ways. But while Leslie hung up her choir robes and didn’t look back, Matt kept music, and songwriting, at the center of his life – playing in punk bands (Beatrice) in college and later in alt rock outfits (Lonesome Pie) in his adopted home of Los Angeles.
It wasn’t until some years later after these high school friends had reunited, fallen in love and married that they discovered the musical connection they shared. It was at a good friend’s annual talent show/birthday party that they found the core sound of what would soon become The Running Kind. “Leslie wanted to sing one of those early Patsy tunes, Who Can I Count On?” recalls Matt. “She had never done that before, sung solo in front of people, but she sounded great and wanted to try. So I backed her up on guitar and harmonized a little… and that’s how we started.”
Borrowing their name from the Merle Haggard tune, the Bossons formed The Running Kind into a band that is the sonic sum of many musical parts. Leslie studies classical voice and opera. An odd mix of styles, country and opera, she admits, “but the two genres are not really that far apart. You get to tell great stories with a strong vocal line.” And Matt adapted his rock-song style of writing and downshifted it a little – challenging himself to write in a feminine voice while drawing his thematic inspiration from the music of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Neil Young and certainly, Haggard. Matt explains, “I like the theme in Merle’s tune, ‘I was born the running kind, with leaving always on my mind.’ That poetic notion of the rootless drifter, alone and loved-starved and always trying but never able to really connect; it’s the core idea in so many great songs, certainly most country music.”
To fill out The Running Kind, the Bossons have gathered an equally eclectic group of musicians that includes George Alexander, who plays his Telecaster with such power on original songs like Old Girl that it’s not surprising to find out this country picker also has a heavy rocker side. “He’s half James Burton, half Jimi Hendrix,” says Matt. “But he’s got a signature style that’s all his own.” The drums and percussion of musician/producer Mitsuru “Neil” Fukasawa, as well as Frank San Filippo (from LA’s Ghost Town) on bass form a rock-steady rhythm section. “We like to play some traditional country numbers, but we also like to rock,” says Matt. “We’re always trying to make music that’s a little more expansive, arrangement-wise.” Stretching their sound has meant adding keyboardist Kevin Smith to the lineup, whom Matt credits with lending a lyrical quality to the band that nicely counters George’s take-no-prisoner leads. While the blend of Leslie’s and Matt’s voices has been compared to other duos like Johnny and June, John Doe and Exene, or Richard and Linda Thompson, their unique sound sets The Running Kind apart from those pioneers along a track all its own.
Together, The Running Kind has become a favorite in the Los Angeles alt-country music scene, playing regularly at The Cinema Bar in Culver City, the Ranch Party at The Original Farmer’s Market, the Grand Ole Echo, and Ronnie Mack’s Barndance. Their haunting rendition of the Delmore Brother’s Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar was enjoyed by listeners across LA on Chris Morris’ “Watusi Radio” show on Indie 103.1. And in 2008, country music fans made the monthly trip out to Burbank to hear the Running Kind’s residency at Viva Cantina.
The Running Kind shows no signs of slowing with their new release, The Girl For All The World. This 10-song collection of original Bosson tunes and a couple of classic covers demonstrates what’s best about Americana music today. It’s a potent mix of tradition and innovation that comes together in a ways both fresh and familiar. The Bossons’ harmony on the track Two Roads might express their musical convergence best: “Will you remind me of where we’ve been and where we are? With you beside me, we’ll sing a song and play guitar…”