Like any other town, Denver has its share of cover bands, and those bands often tend to get overlooked, because, well, they're playing somebody else's music. Thus, our latest feature, Cover Band of the Week (or, perhaps more accurately, every few weeks, because let's be honest: There's a finite number of bands). This week: Exit 2.
See also: Colorado Cover Band of the Week archives
Country cover bands are all about putting on your shit-kickers, dancing, whiskey drinking and getting rowdy. The band Exit 2 (Terry Runyan, Larry Barker, Charlie Provenza, Chad Parsons, Christine Collins and Morgan Taylor) was born three years ago, and their primary goal is to get your drunk butt on the dance floor. With a mix of classics and new country, this band covers all the bases. We recently spoke with Runyan about his favorite country songs and why only Colorado is the best place to play country music.
Westword: Let's chat about...I'm sorry, I'm on your website, and I'm looking at Larry's picture, and he's hardcore. What is he doing? He looks like he's going to beat the shit out of you at a truck stop.
Terry Runyan: [laughing] Well, he used to be a truck driver so...
I swear to God.
Well, tell Larry he's keeping it real with the truck stop look.
I hope he's not gonna beat me up.
Oh no. He's a big teddy bear. He's the nicest guy ever.
Awesome. So tell me about how you guys started, how you came together? Are you all Colorado boys?
Yeah, for the most part. Actually, I was in a band previous to this one, and after a couple of years, you know, band stuff turned into drama, and we broke up. I know that there are a lot of bands that go through that as well.
Yeah, every band I've ever talked to always has a story, and either they share it in full dirty details, or they leave it at, "It wasn't good." So you guys broke up?
[laughing] Yeah. So after we broke up, I took about six or seven months away from music, just because I needed to get away from it for a little bit after the drama.
After the break-up, you "cut your hair."
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[laughing] Yes. So about seven months later, I decided that I've got the itch again, and that's when I went out and started Exit 2. I brought in Charlie and Chad, originally. We did have a drummer previous to Larry; Larry's actually a fairly new addition -- he's just come in in the last couple of months. But now I think we're pretty set as far as the band goes. I mean, Larry is a perfect fit, and Charlie and Chad have been there from the beginning, so it's three years later, and here we are.
Why Exit 2?
There are actually two reasons; I will give you the interview reason first...
You give me the real reason!
Actually there is an exit off of the Ohio turnpike back near where I grew up; I actually grew up in Michigan -- out in the middle of nowhere, home on the range country, and the closest highway was the Ohio turnpike, and to get to Michigan, where I lived, you get off on exit 2. That's where it originally came from.
The other side-note from it was, when I broke up with the other band, when I started Exit 2, I brought over the drummer from my previous band.
Oh...that's a way better story.
So...exit 2 from the previous band?
I like that you explain it to me in "slow style" as if I might get confused.
"Get it? Exit 2? Get it???" So funny.
So you started this cool band, and it's completely covers, right?
No, we actually do... I mean it's mostly covers at this point, but we do have some of our original music scattered in there. As time goes on and we're not playing so much, and we have some time, the plan is to do...because I've got plenty of other originals out there that we just need to work on, that we're going to gradually add more originals to the setlist. The goal is to eventually have more originals than covers, but at this point it's primarily covers.
Okay. Cool. So with cover bands, I'm finding that it's a pretty crazy, competitive market here in Denver; so how did you guys choose your genre? Is it more country or would you say it's kind a rockabilly?
I call it country rock or new country because people that listen to new country know that most of it is country with a rock feel -- classic rock fused with country. And I've always liked country music, and I do like new country. I kind of like to get rowdy, have fun, have a good time, and that's usually the music I listen to when I do that. So what better way to get everyone else to get rowdy and have a good time then to be playing new rockin' country?
Exactly. Get 'em going! Get 'em dancing! There, as you know, are tons of country bars in Denver. So where do you normally play, and how many shows do you guys perform a year?
First off, we play Toby Keith's Bar and Grill, Buckin' Harley's, Carry-On Saloon down in Colorado Springs, ummm...
Do you like Toby Keith's? It's filled with moms. I've been in there before, and it's huge. Do you like that space?
[laughing] Right. When we played there, it was a little better, but, yeah, I do like the venue. I mean, we have fun no matter where we play and we try to make sure that everyone else is having fun too, so the nice thing was, when we were there, there was a younger crowd, and we brought of our own crowd as well. We had a good time with it.
Is there one place in Colorado that when you play it you think to yourself, "This is the venue."
Oh, you're gonna get me into trouble.
That's my job. Don't be scared. You're not saying one place is better then another; you're just saying, "This place is awesome," and sometimes it's about the crowd, not even the venue, right?
Yeah, you know, we play a lot of larger bars, but I like the smaller bars because we kind of get to let our hair down more. I don't know if there's one over the other that I would pick, but if I had to pick I would probably say Carry-On Saloon down in the Springs just because we've played that one since the beginning. We started playing there when I was in my original band, and we've played there ever since. So it' always a good time going down there. It's a good country crowd and they like to have a good time.
Who is your favorite artist of all time, and then what is your favorite song to perform?
That's a tough one; there are so many great artists that I enjoy. Obviously George Strait comes to mind -- he's one of the great country singers of all time. Not really for the new stuff that we're doing, but we do some old stuff, as well. We have a few George Strait songs, as well, so that's always nice. As far as new stuff, I really like Brantley Gilbert, Jason Aldean...those guys are all about getting drunk and having a good time, getting rowdy.
What's your favorite song, and then what's the one song that makes people go absolutely crazy -- panties on the stage crazy.
One of my favorite songs to do is "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)."
I don't know that one. Who's it by?
I'm gonna have to Google it.
I'm gonna have to Google it! I know the name! It's on the tip of my tongue and I can't remember it.
Googling it...Luke Bryan. Oh! He's that guy. He's the Target guy. He's the one that does that song that all the girls swarm over. How does it go? "Come on over..." he's singing about how she can break up his party anytime or something unrealistic like that?
Yeah! Yeah! It's "You Can Crash My Party Anytime."
Yes! That is such a chick song. Hey, it's not real, ladies. That's not real!
Yeah, I guarantee if his girlfriend called him up and said "heeeyyyy," he would say, "Hey! I'm busy!"
And hang up. He's not gonna let your ass in; he's not leaving that door unlocked. He's probably cheating.
So that's your favorite. What's the song that gets the crowd going every time?
It would have to be "Friends in Low Places" or "Sweet Home Alabama," depending on where we're at because that one always gets everyone up on the dance floor. And that's one that the whole world knows. You don't have to be a country listener to get up to that one.
What do you think it is about those songs, though? What is it about those particular songs that get people going?
I think "Sweet Home Alabama" is one that everyone knows; it's a song that's been popular forever. It reaches across all genres; you don't have to be a country music lover to know that song. You don't have to be a rock lover to know that song. Everyone knows that song.
And again, I think "Friends in Low Places" is the same thing; again, it's a country song, but it crosses all the genres. R&B people know that song. When people hear it they immediately recognize it. It's kind of one that people who don't listen to country music kind of associate with the song that is country.
Garth Brooks made country kind of pop. I remember that he was doing those huge, crazy shows, and I think he made that music so accessible to everyone. People really know who Garth Brooks is because of his accessibility at that time when he was at his peak.
I agree. Absolutely.
Do you have crazy ladies following you around?
Oh yeah. We definitely have our folks that follow us around. You know, we have our groupies, and then we have the rest of our fans.
Those ladies are...something special.
[laughing] Hey, they're great!
They're coming to rock this place. They're great. That's all I can say.
So what is the craziest fan gift you've ever received?
I don't know if I've had anything "crazy crazy," but I've definitely had undergarments that were given to me...
Wait, like given in a box? Or thrown at the stage? Because there is a difference. It's psycho when somebody gives you their used underwear in a box.
No, it wasn't in a box. I don't know that I've gotten anything in a box per se. But it was given to me on the sly; it wasn't like it was thrown on stage -- it was brought to me in-between sets.
Yeah, she could've just thrown it on the stage, and I would've been okay with that, but you're kinda right...bringing it to me between sets...I don't know.
Do you keep it? I always wonder. I see girls tossing their delicates on stage, and I think what do you guys do with all this underwear? Do you throw it away? Do you wash it? Or do you have a secret bin?
Oh no. No. No. No. [laughing] It actually becomes kind of a gag between the band for the rest of the night. We try to stuff it in somebody's equipment bag when they're not looking, so they take it home, and then they're stuck with it.
But normally the guys have learned, so they'll look around, and if they find it, they'll try to stick it in someone else's stuff.
I just think I want the ladies to know out there, it doesn't work. Well, maybe it does; does it work?
It just creeps me out. It would creep me out.
Yeah and I don't want any guys throwing their undergarments up at me.
I don't know, if I were you, I might prefer the fellas, they might be cleaner -- I've been in the ladies bathrooms; it's not good. It's not good.
How many shows a year do you play?
We do weddings, corporate gigs, of course all the bar gigs; we're normally playing, on average, three weekends a month.
Yeah, we have our months where we take some time off and get stuff done. We may only play once that month, but just like last month, we played every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the entire month. And then we like to take a little time off in the winter. It gives us a chance to recharge our batteries and work on some new stuff. It's also kind of a pain in the butt playing all these gigs when you don't know what the weather is going to be like.
Do you guys play outside of Colorado a lot?
We haven't as much lately; we play pretty much all over Colorado right now. We do have bars in Wyoming, Nebraska; we just got a request for a bar down in Texas.
You mention that you travel to Wyoming -- who parties harder? Denver or Wyoming? And you fucking better say Denver.
[laughing] Absolutely Denver!
Perfect. I know Wyoming is very...you know, down home; are there similarities?
I think it's a country crowd up there -- they know every song we're playing. Sometimes in the Denver area, there are some songs we play that people may have never heard before. But when we play in country bars, where we've got that country crowd, it's definitely a little different. They're dancing and singing to all the songs. The dance floor is much fuller when you're playing for that group.
Do you have any upcoming shows? Anything you're excited about?
Yeah. October 4th and 5th we're out at Chatfield Sports Bar and Grill in Littleton.
What is your favorite drink on stage? I always ask this because I want people to buy you the right drinks.
Normally, we try to limit it as much as possible because we don't want to be up there and slur the song -- we still want people to understand what we're doing. I've got my little cup holder for my microphone stand -- I drink Bud Light. But we like our Goldschläger and our tequila.
Well that's disappointing. I thought you were definitely going to say Jack Daniels.
My guys will drink anything you bring to them.
As it should be.
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