Indie-soul ensemble Gun Runner released their debut EP Bad Neighbors in summer 2010. The following year, they were one of nearly two dozen San Diego bands who attended the 2011 edition of the annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, along with Maren Parusel, Inspired Flight, Lesands, Steve Poltz, OFF! (with San Diego drummer Mario Rubalcaba), Grand Tarantula, etc.
“The first time I went it was beautiful, stressful, and insane,” says frontman Sean Davenport. “There’s a lot of prestige going with a Brooklyn indie band [Abigail Warchild]. It’s more special for a smaller town like San Diego, which isn’t recognized as much musically, to be represented. We’ve already got label interest and management, so it’s just cool to see new bands and party.”
Guitarist Tommy Graf originally covered guitar and acoustic percussion duties in the band, with the help of programmed beats, until the spring 2011 recruitment of drummer Seth Cash, a former member of the Blue Man Group.
Later in 2011, they released their first full-length, Obstacles and Experiments. “This new album was basically a result of losing a drummer and trying to come up with alternate creative ways in which to keep the band together,” says Davenport.
“We decided to utilize the fact that Tommy [Graf, guitarist] could fill in for part of [the drum tracks] and then we started experimenting with drum machines and samples, hence the title.”
“It took us about two months of going to the practice space every night for long grueling hours, but we are very happy with the end result. Originally we were going to release the album around the New Year, but we got backed up around that time with SXSW and then touring after.”
Sean Davenport also plays with Hills Like Elephants, and Tommy Graf has a psych-duo called Dark Thirty. In late 2011, Davenport told the Reader that Gun Runner was going on a “long term break up,” while he concentrates on Hills Like Elephants (the name is a Hemingway reference).