|Genres||Alternative rock, Indie|
Faith & Hope
|Past members||Matthew Greener
Chris "Fields" Wheatcroft
Morning Runner were an English alternative rock band from Reading. They released one album, Wilderness Is Paradise Now, following top 20 single "Burning Benches", before their split in late 2007 due to commercial pressures from their record label, Parlophone.
Origin and early years (2003–2005)
Morning Runner met in Reading, Berkshire, while in different bands. Pianist Chris "Fields" Wheatcroft moved to Reading from Salisbury, where he had dropped out of his classical music course, and singer/guitarist Matthew Greener moved there with his parents in his early teens. Ali Clewer, drummer, and bassist Tom Derrett are from Reading originally.
Greener began as a drummer in another band, writing some of their material himself. He left to perform solo, until one night a local promoter asked him to play again with his band. Greener agreed, without admitting he did not have one, so hurriedly recruited Derrett and Clewer, who were previously members of the Reading band Jericho.
At their debut performance, future member Fields enjoyed the freshness of what he saw, and he was invited to join the band. Although Greener was initially reluctant to add a pianist into the mix, Derret has credited Fields with encouraging the band's melodic sound: "There were three of us just playing as loud as we could", Derrett said, "then Fields came in and introduced us to melody."
At first, they traded under Greener's name, but soon decided they required their own moniker. After three months of fraught discussion they chose the first name they came up with. The name "Morning Runner" came about from the vast impression that people who run in the early hours made on Greener, "It made me think of the pursuit people make to try and better themselves, be it physically, mentally or spiritually, when people will pass away one day anyway."
Morning Runner were soon making waves, with the band signing to Manchester independent record label Faith & Hope in 2001. After putting out The Great Escape 7" in 2004 they played numerous gigs around the country and simultaneously became one of the most sought after bands on the A&R circuit. This led to the band signing with Parlophone in November 2004 and paved the way for a busy schedule in the year ahead.
The band spent much of 2005 touring, playing with the likes of Ian Brown, Bloc Party, The Magic Numbers, The Pogues, and supporting Coldplay on several of their Twisted Logic Tour dates, and built up a solid fanbase as a result.
Wilderness Is Paradise Now (2005–2006)
After a couple of false starts, they began working with producer John Cornfield to record their debut album. At first Cornfield was unsure about the album but later agreed to help. In May, they released their first EP with Parlophone, Drawing Shapes, which led to a range of plaudits by NME, The Guardian, Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley. This was followed by their debut single, "Gone Up in Flames", in August.
At the start of 2006, Morning Runner embarked on an extensive three-month headline tour of the UK to promote the release of their debut album. In February, they released the single "Burning Benches", which broke the band into the top 20 of the official UK Singles Chart, as well as being made single of the week by Steve Lamacq, Scott Mills, and Colin and Edith on BBC Radio 1. Their debut album, Wilderness Is Paradise Now, was released shortly afterwards on 6 March 2006, and despite failing to make a significant impact commercially, it was generally critically well received.
Mike Pattenden from The Times found the album to be a generally strong debut, commenting that the slower tracks displayed a "transcendent quality that suggest Morning Runner are in it for the long haul". On the negative side, however, the band suffered occasional accusations that they were too similar to other piano-driven bands, such as Coldplay and Keane, although some critics refuted these, with NME's Paul McNamee saying "they're a band that could knock 10 bells out of Keane" and Phil Mongredien of Q stating that a Coldplay comparison "would be doing Morning Runner a disservice."
Over the summer of 2006, Morning Runner continued to keep up their reputation as a formidable live band, playing at some of the largest festivals in the UK including the Isle of Wight Festival, T in the Park, V Festival, and Guilfest. They were also special guests for Embrace in the Forestry Commission's 'Forest Tours 2006'. The Wilderness Is Paradise Now campaign finally came to an end in August 2006 with a homecoming concert in Reading followed by a headline show at Manifest in Mexico.
Beginnings of a second album and the end of Morning Runner (2006–2007)
The band began working on their second album in September 2006. At the beginning of 2007 they played two intimate shows to showcase their new material, one on 26 January at the South Street Arts Centre in Reading, and the other on 26 February at The Zodiac in Oxford. Following more gigs in June and July, the songwriting stage of the next album was said to be nearing completion, and by August the band were seeking a record producer to work with.
However, to the shock of many of their fans, on 10 October Morning Runner posted a message on their official forum announcing they were splitting up. They blamed the split on pressures from their record label, saying that Parlophone had "heaped pressure on us to have a follow up hit record", partly due to the "relative commercial failure" of their first album. Parlophone had said that their music "wasn't commercially viable", and, after two days of contemplation, the band decided to go its separate ways. Their statement added that Matthew Greener and Ali Clewer would "probably go on to perform together in the future", and thanked fans for their support.
A later personal message from Greener stated that he was in discussions with the other members of the band about a possible release of some of the demo tracks from the second album, which never materialised, and that in the meantime he planned to set up a MySpace page to put up new songs that he had written and "just to keep in touch". Greener continued to play live, performing a solo acoustic set consisting of some Morning Runner songs, supporting indie band SixNationState in Winchester two months after the band's split.
Since their split, Morning Runner's music has continued to be used in other media, notably "Gone Up in Flames" as the theme tune for the E4 sitcom The Inbetweeners and also used on Setanta Sports coverage of the IPL, and "Burning Benches" as part of the Adidas 'Impossible is Nothing' advertising campaign.
Greener and Clewer are now writing and performing together with new band Perfect Life. The guitar and synth based indie/alternative outfit features Greener on lead vocals and guitar and Clewer on drums, with new members Nicole Perkins on keyboard, guitar and backing vocals and James del Rio (formerly of The Race) on guitar. The band have recently been played on local radio, supported Palma Violets and are working towards release of their new material.
The band consisted of:
- Matthew Greener: lead vocals, guitar
- Tom Derrett: bass guitar, backing vocals
- Chris "Fields" Wheatcroft: piano/keyboard, backing vocals
- Ali Clewer: drums/percussion
- The Great Escape (21 June 2004), Faith & Hope
- Drawing Shapes (23 May 2005), Parlophone / Faith & Hope – No. 70 UK
|Title||Release date||Album||Label||Peak chart positions|
|UK Singles Chart|
|"Gone up in Flames"||1 August 2005||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Parlophone / Faith & Hope||39|
|"Be All You Want Me to Be"||24 October 2005||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Parlophone / Faith & Hope||44|
|"Have a Good Time" (Limited edition)||12 December 2005||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Faith & Hope||—|
|"Burning Benches"||20 February 2006||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Parlophone / Faith & Hope||19|
|"The Great Escape" (Limited edition)||15 May 2006||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Parlophone / Faith & Hope||56|
|"Oceans" (Limited edition)||14 August 2006||Wilderness Is Paradise Now||Parlophone / Faith & Hope||—|
- "Morning Runner Who, why and how.". Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- "The Times: Wilderness Is Paradise Now Review". London. 4 March 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2007.[dead link]
- Sullivan, Caroline (3 March 2006). "The Guardian: Wilderness Is Paradise Now Review". London. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- "NME: Morning Runner split up". Retrieved 12 October 2007.
- "'Message from the boys'". Retrieved 13 October 2007.[dead link]
- "View topic: matt playing live in winchester". Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 378/9. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Morning Runner Biography on their Official Site. Retrieved January 2007.