Q&A: Joel Famularo of Running Young

Running Young
Melbourne-based, indie-alternative rock quintet Running Young has been slated as a band to keep your eye on this year. People are expecting big things out of the group, whose debut EP, We Are The Sons, just dropped. With influences stemming from U2 and The Beach Boys to Temper Trap and Bon Iver, the group have an incredible, unique sound.
Even more incredible is how the band came to be. In 2012, Joel Famularo (lead vox/bass) survived open-heart surgery with a 2-3% chance to live. Following his death-defying experience, Famularo began channeling it into music intended to inspire and connect people. The group, comprised of Famularo, Ben Williams (keys/vocals), Benjamin Cropper (guitar/vocals), Cassandra McCawley (guitar/vocals), and John Bellew (drums), has since gone on to generate some major buzz, even having a track featured on Shameless.
Planet Stereo got to sit down with Famularo to talk about the band’s new EP, writing, social media, and more.
Planet Stereo: Thanks so much for doing the interview. How are you?

Joel Famularo: Hey, no problem! You know what? I’m doing great. It’s been an exciting couple of months for our band as we’ve been getting loads of positive press and radio love so I’m feeling vindicated by the fact people are paying attention to all our efforts and hard work.


PS: Your solo EP, We Are The Sons, has recently been released. How does it feel to finally get the material out there?
JF: It feels great to be able to finally stop tinkering and just release the music. It has been a long process for me starting the band by recruiting a bunch of complete strangers (who have become close friends) to now putting our first EP out there. A couple of the songs have been with me for a long time. I think the other cool thing is that because the EP has been well received it gets you pumped and excited to release the next one knowing there’s an audience for the music slowly growing.


PS: Do you have a favorite song from the EP?
JF: Hmmmmm…that’s a really tough one. I guess if I really think about it, it’d be between ​”​Did You See​”​ and “​Out of Time,” but “Did You See” would win by a minute margin, because I feel like it was a gift from above that I can’t fully take credit for. I believe a little bit of magic entered my room the day I wrote that song.


PS: What is your favorite part about going into the studio?
JF: Just the tinkering aspect; hacking away at ideas until hopefully you stumble upon something special. I actually recorded​ all of the songs in my home studio so I’m in there all the time haha! The writing/recording process is one and the same for me which suits me perfectly. It’s my little sanctuary away from the world, and I love bringing my musical fantasies into existence.


PS: What does Running Young mean to you?
JF: The name ‘Running Young’ took me a while to find. I had a bunch of competing names but I settled on this one, because I loved the way those two words fit together, and the images and feelings they invoked. It conveys energy, youth, optimism, hope, and wonder. In short, I thought they were two words that had never been put together, but when you did, they worked. They don’t make sense in a literal sense because you can’t run young… You can be running wild, late, on empty etc., but, in short, to be “running young,” to me, means to be young at heart and to still see life as a grand adventure that doesn’t have to be dull and predictable all the time. There’s this great quote that I’m sure everyone has come across on the web by the late, great Robin Williams where he says something like, “Don’t lose that little spark of madness,” and that really strikes a chord with me, and deserves to be thrown in here to help me answer this question. I really could go on for hours about this subject, but I’ll leave it there for now.


PS: Where do you draw inspiration?
JF: Usually the private parts of life that aren’t part of what we talk about around the “water cooler.” So, the isolation felt by almost everybody throughout their lives that they keep a secret, which only makes them feel more lonely and isolated. Other great music or even films that convey the frail beauty of life. But at the same time, sometimes I’m inspired by people that piss me off, and I write about how lame and annoying they are, which I’m trying to let happen less :). Love, hope, that rare feeling of bitter-sweet ecstasy/melancholy that you wish you could capture in a bottle…You know what I’m talking about? That feeling when you watch Forrest Gump (which is, along with It’s a Wonderful Life, my favorite movie of all time, by the way), or when you look at your girlfriend and think “How would I ever go on if something happened to her?”


PS: What would you like people to come away with when they hear your album?
JF: A feeling to call all the people they love and tell them they love them; a feeling to climb Mount Everest, or to help the world in whatever way they’re born to. I’d like them to relax and feel encouraged. These are things I aspire to do and fail miserably at every day (haven’t even climbed the tallest mountain in my city, let alone the world), but I guess with my music I see it as my IDEALIZED statement to the world, because if I die tomorrow (which I very nearly did 3 years ago), what am I leaving behind? That’s how I try and write music and that’s what I want people to feel when they hear our stuff.

PS: How did you get involved in music?
JF: Both my parents were musical and when I was eight, my dad was like, “Ok, your brother seems to be a natural at the drums so let’s see if you’ve got any talent.” Well, it didn’t start off too well, because I was too in love with drawing to really care much about music, so when he tried to teach me guitar, I didn’t practice or care enough to learn all the chords, and the same thing happened when mum tried to teach me piano. So finally, dad said, “Alright, I’ll try teach you bass and if this doesn’t stick, that’s it, we give up!” Luckily for me, the bass was a lot easier for me to learn at the start and when I finally fell in love with it, I ended up teaching myself guitar and a little keys anyway. I grew up playing with my family in our family band travelling the Australian countryside. Needless to say, it was awesome and paved the way for Running Young.

PS: If you could work with any artist, past or present,who would it be and why?
JF: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, because he’s a genius and so original. No one inspires me more than him, and we share a love of vocal harmonies and music that brings people together.

PS: Your music was recently featured on Shameless. Did you watch the episode, or do you already watch the show?
JF: To be completely honest, I’d never heard of the show before we were featured on it, but we did all watch the episode, and it looks like an awesome show with a massive following.

PS: If you could choose any film/tv show/etc. to have your music featured in, what would it be and why?
JF: Probably Forrest Gump, because it’s the best movie ever.

PS: What was the first album you ever bought?

​​JF: Creedence Clearwater Revival Greatest Hits, which I hated at first. Actually, my dad bought it for me, but I ended up loving it for John Fogerty’s guitar riffs and his voice, which, at first, made me wince!

PS: In music, especially with social media coming into play, which do you believe to be more important: quality or likability?
JF: Um… I think I know what you mean. I’d say they’re both important, but quality of music has to be the priority because it’s truly what determines if you stand the test of time or not. Think about how many songs, old and new, that come on the radio and you say “Oh I LOVE this song,” but you don’t even know who the artist is! I’m a believer that songs matter the most and they’re the greatest determinant in an artist’s longevity. Of course if people like you then they’ll be more likely to listen to your stuff in the right mind frame and share it around, so it does matter! Especially as you said with social media coming into play.


PS: Any last words?
JF: I recommend watching Seinfeld three times a week, minimum!

For more on Running Young, please be sure to click HERE.
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