INTERVIEW: Chicago Alt-Pop Rockers Marina City Talk New Single ‘Runaways’, Alternate Reality Game, & More

Coloring the industry with their vibrant musical textures, Marina City’s newest single “Runaways” displays their calling card of upbeat electronic grooves and resonating lyricism.

The Chicago-based alt-pop rockers are known for delivering a high-energy sound brimming with electricity and pulsating emotion, and their latest single is no different.

“Runaways” – which dropped July 20th – is the band’s second single within the span of a month, and showcases spirited synth and energetic drums that drives the music behind the melodic timbres of lead singer Ryan Argast’s vocals, fulfilling their unique indie-pop ambience. Along with Argast, the band features Matthew Gaudiano (keys), Eric Somers-Urrea (drums), and Todor Birindjiev (guitar).

“Runaways” and their previous single, “Youth” are a couple epic teasers for their upcoming album, The Simulation, which will also be followed by the release of their identically named Alternate Reality Game.

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We got to talk to Argast to learn more about the new single, upcoming album, the accompanying game, and much more.

So how did Marina City meet and what influenced you to start pursuing a music career together?

We’ve been playing music together for a really long time. We like to say we grew up together. Diano (keys/vocals) and I (Ryan) met each other while doing musicals in high school. We were part of a men’s acapella after-school group from the choir department. When looking for a drummer we hesitantly tried Craigslist and were lucky enough to not find a serial killer, but instead Eric (drums)!

Todor (guitar) played in a band that played with us at an empty show in Michigan. The sound engineer left. It was just our band playing with his band a few hundred miles away from home. That’s rock n roll though. When his band broke up we were looking for a guitarist. We had 3 auditions with him just for him to sweat it out, but we knew right away he was the one. We’ve been playing ever since with different styles, eras, and everything in between. 

What does each band member bring to the table other than simply playing a certain instrument? 

Eric is the best pure musician we know. He is not only an incredible drummer, but he can play multiple instruments, he builds our light show and is our music director! He is also an adventurer, so there is never a dull moment on the road. Todor is from Bulgaria and brings a different perspective to everything. He has a fun sense of humor and is the party. He also helps mix and cleans up some of our recordings. Diano can do everything great on the first try. He is such a fast learner. He basically can do everything. I like to think I bring funky dance moves and pranks. I do all of the jobs no one else wants to do!

So you’ve got your new single, “Runaways,” that dropped July 20th. Can you tell us a little bit about the influence and inspiration behind it?

This was actually the song that made us believe we needed to make a new EP. We wanted to write songs about feeling liberated from a terrible situation. These two characters in the song represent both the resilience and maybe naïveté the youth of today may have. This whole record is inspired by the response the youth has had during some of the most difficult times in several decades. 

I see you’ve got an exciting music video to follow. What were some of the challenges in making it, and what was the vision behind it? 

We really wanted to capture the idea of breaking free and realizing you are still in control of your life, even if there are beings that are trying to hold you back. Aesthetically, this record is difficult to keep consistent when your budget is tight, but director Benjamin Lieber is a wizard. What he was able to create surpassed our expectations.

We want our fans to feel immersed in a world when listening to this era of our music and he cemented it for us. I’m also fortunate enough to be married to an incredible dance choreographer, Lyndsey Argast, who is one of the dancers in the video. She brought some of her dancers; Lexi Stevenson, Micala Loose, and Miranda Deacon. They made this process so easy and make the vision come to life. 

I’m also seeing where you developed an Alternate Reality Game for your upcoming EP, The Simulation. What can you tell us about this and how can fans get involved?

Each song is a chapter in the story. Each story has a theme like Deception, Fear, or Redemption. There are tasks that correspond with these themes, and if fans complete the tasks, they will be rewarded with bits of songs or badges. If you collect all 7 badges you will have completed the game. The 7 badges are real-life pins! You can follow the game and the journey on our discord.

What does a day in the life of the band’s songwriting process look like?

Songs can be written in all sorts of different ways, but most commonly Eric (drums) sends a demo skeleton of different song ideas. It would have drum beats with some simple production to get a feel of the song. I will work on melodies and lyrics for it. Once we get it to a place that we really like, then Diano (keys) and Todor (guitar) start filling out the song and make it what you eventually hear! 

What does a dream gig look like for Marina City? How about a dream collaboration?

There are so many dream gigs and probably each of us would have a different answer! However, I think it is safe to say we hope that we can play Red Rocks and headline Wrigley Field one day! As a dream collaboration — how much time do you have? We have so many! Trent Reznor, Jack Antinoff, Pete Wentz, Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, Andrew Wortman, Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monaé, Matty Healy, Ryan Tedder- the list goes on forever!

I see that you also have a podcast called The Crush. Can you tell us what inspired that name and what the podcast entails?

We call our fan base The Crush, and felt that it would be perfect to name the Podcast off of things we felt our fans would be interested in. Most episodes dissect our songs and the world of Marina City, but we also talk about tour stories, things we enjoy, and more. It’s a great place for fans to get to know us more! 

What might Marina City have planned for the rest of summer, and frankly, the rest of the year?

We are playing a couple more street fests, and then we will be gearing up to do out-of-state shows in October when the record is released. Fans can expect to hear a bunch of new music and get more immersed in the world we are building with The Simulation.

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