Retirement Party Break Down Their Triumphant LP “Runaway Dog” Track by Track

Avery Springer walks us through the Chicago emo ensemble’s much-anticipated sophomore album.

The fate of Retirement Party was uncertain following the Midwest emo group’s fiery debut Somewhat Literate in 2018. Plagued with writer’s block, bandleader Avery Springer became increasingly aware of the fact that she hadn’t written a new RP track in over a year—the type of panicked realization that generally only begets more panic for creative folks feeling pressure to keep up a steady stream of new material.

But from the moment the band introduced Runaway Dog, their much-anticipated follow-up to Somewhat Literate, it was perfectly clear that this creative block had been obliterated. The album’s title track and first single was one of the most instantly engaging lead-off singles in recent memory, setting up the rest of the album as a driving punk record splitting the distance between noisy emo and gentler pop in the same vein as Remember Sports and their Philly kin.

With the full LP out in the world now, Springer took the time to share a behind-the-scenes look at all ten of the record’s tracks. Stream Runaway Dog and read along to her commentary below.

1. “Runaway Dog”

As the record’s name suggests, this song ties a lot of the record’s themes together. It uses the analogy of your dog running away to express the feelings of losing passion and drive in the things you once loved. For me, this is pursuing a career in music, but I feel like this kind of loss is something everyone experiences in one way or another. There’s a lot of guilt you feel, and it may feel like it’s your fault, but more than anything you’re longing for what you love to come back. 

This song is really fun to play live! The driving rhythm section really opens the album in a strong way.

2. “Compensation”

This song is a snarky analysis of the push and pull between “artistry” and “business” in music. I finished a degree in Music Business this last December and being involved/interested in both areas of the industry isn’t always the easiest thing. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek banter of a mind going through the contradictions and struggles on both sides. I love the vocal melodies in this song. Everything about it is pop-punk to the max and it makes it a fast and fun tune.

3. “Old Age”

This was the first song on this record that we wrote. It’s a reflection on the shift in awareness and empathy I took when a friend tragically passed away. I feel that part of growing up is becoming aware that everyone lives complicated lives and goes through struggles you may or may not know of. I really like the power this song harnesses. As a band that likes to play loud, but is also enjoying venturing into the softer side of things, this one spans the dynamic spectrum.

4. “Fire Blanket”

The first two chords going back and forth feel a little bit like an alarm going off to me, and this song is about the panic associated with the betrayal of a friend and the efforts to put out the fire that was started. I feel like this is the most aggressive sounding song on the record. Play fast, play loud.

5. “No Tide”

This is probably the most emotionally vulnerable song on the record. The chorus is about watching yourself cry in a mirror when you’re feeling at your lowest point. I feel like the instrumentals and vocals are on the calmer side, and that fits with the calm you feel after getting all those tears out.

6. “I Wonder If They Remember You”

This song fits hand-in-hand with the theme of “Old Age.” It’s about the reflection following someone passing away. This person that meant something to you means nothing to someone else, but we all experience these things. This song opens up the B-side of the record succinctly, but with power. It asks hard questions and finds some hard answers.

7. “Ebb”

The catchy melodies and riffs make this song a really fun one to play live. Lyrically, it fights with the end of a friendship and coming to terms with someone not wanting to be in your life anymore. While the subject matter isn’t too flowery, this song has a lot of bounciness to it. Really looking forward to getting to play this one when shows are back!

8. “Better Off Now”

Definitely be careful not to crank this song too much before the ending hits! This song is about making the decision to leave something/someone behind. Sometimes you can’t grow without moving on, and leaving things in the past isn’t always a bad thing.

9. “Afterthought”

Collectively, this might be our favorite song as a band. The lyrics are about grounding yourself as a musician and artist. It’s assessing the dangers of what you’re doing and a reminder to not get carried away with the facade of glamour being in a touring band often carries. It’s a mix of my personal inner conflict, and the ways outside factors can contribute as well. In the end you just have to remind yourself you’re not invincible and you’re not going to love every second of pursuing a passion. And all of that is OK!

10. “Wild Boyz”

We had a lot of fun recording all the tracks that make up this song. Lyrically, it plays more on the idea of uncertainty with the decisions you’ve made and the path that you’re on. It starts formulaic and acoustic, but devolves into chaotic noise. I feel that our brains can work ourselves into a fit that way, and this song demonstrates that instrumentally. The quick end/clean up of the noise at the end also feels like a good way to end this record and its themes. No matter what we go through and how intense our feelings can get, there’s always an end to it. There’s always calm at some point after the storm.

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