The Temple alumni who make up City Rain discuss their motivation, inspiration and the cleansing power of music.
For approximately the past year-and-a-half, City Rain– a duo composed of Temple alumni Ben Runyan and Jarrett Zerrer–have teamed up to combine surf, new wave, funk and electro influences into a unique sound that has taken the Philadelphia music scene by storm.
United by depression resulting from a combination of tough breakups, hard winters and the gritty darkness of the city itself, these childhood friends turned to music and one another to find catharsis. Now, the boys are determined to take their act national with the upcoming release of their new E.P. “I’m Gone.”
“I’m Gone” was an eight-month labor of love, created start to finish by the duo at Zerrer’s father’s cabin in New Jersey, which they’ve fondly dubbed Stompf Tavern Studios.
“We took lots of drugs, went up to our getaway and worked,” Runyan joked. “It’s a long process but those few eureka moments when the song came into its own and [we felt like] ‘this is what the song is supposed to sound like,’ made it all worthwhile.”
However difficult putting a record together may have been, Runyan and Zerrer were certainly up to the challenge. Though they had been friends since middle school, the two didn’t connect musically until they had both broken up with long-term girlfriends and were looking for an outlet.
“We want people at Temple to hear our music and understand that our experience there was painful and that the winters there were tough. There’s no sugar coating. It’s a real reality check,” Zerrer said.
As for how Temple and the city itself comes up in the music, Runyan described Philadelphia as “a dark Gotham type of place.”
Its got a lot of really good things about it and a lot of sinister things about it. The music shows these bipolar moments,” Runyan said.
“It’s that friend [who] you know is a really bad influence on you but they do enough good things for you every once in a while that it keeps you around,” Zerrer added.
The challenges presented by their experiences pushed them to use music as a means for a sort of renewal.
“What happened is painful, [and] the music is the remedy to help what happened. It’s our way of getting it out and hopefully other people can relate to it on a human level,” Zerrer said.
People have certainly related to their struggle so far. With fan bases in New York and Philadelphia alike, City Rain’s music has taken on a life of its own that its members never expected.
“We didn’t think of it very seriously at first, but it took a very serious path,” Runyan said.
How serious, you ask? World domination serious.
“We aren’t in this to make a few hit songs like some cool Indie band and then rest on our laurels. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about being the best at what you do. Tiger Woods doesn’t wake up in the morning and say ‘I just want to be good,’” Runyan said.
For City Rain, the future starts now, with their E.P. release show scheduled for Oct. 27 at Milkboy in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. For show dates, music previews and more information, check out their website cityraintunes.bandcamp.com or on their Facebook page, City Rain Tunes.
Victoria Marchiony can be reached at email@example.com.