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Catching the wind 

Savannah rock band Kiterunner looks to the future

These days, it seems one can hardly turn around without seeing the words “Kite Runner” staring back at them.

Whether emblazoned on oversized paperback copies of the celebrated 2003 best-seller of the same name by Afghani-American author Khaled Hosseini, or in online news reports about the delayed release of the hotly-anticipated and controversial film adaptation (screening Saturday night at the Savannah Film Festival), this unusual phrase has certainly found its place in today’s popular consciousness.

However, those who have spent time in Savannah over the past year have likely been bombarded with that term much more than those in other cities. That’s because Kiterunner (note the spelling variation) is also the name of one of our town’s more ambitious and dedicated underground rock bands.

Founder Ryan Peoples says that for now, the band will keep it’s name, despite the fact that, “a lot of people assume it’s because I fell in love with the book.”

“It sounds silly looking back on it now, but I wasn’t quite aware of how popular the book was, or that they were gonna make it into a movie,” he chuckles. “I did read it, and was kinda disappointed. The first half was great and then it turned into pop crap.”

“However,” the SCAD Graduate Student (he’s getting a Master’s in Sound Design) and former Special-Ed teacher adds, “the reason I initially liked the sound of it was that it’s so dichotomous, and that’s how I envision the group. We’re not quite there yet, but I’m interested in mixing electronic music, organic rock and vocal harmony.”

To date, the septet, led by this singing guitarist and keyboardist has played mostly at two of the rare venues in town which are open to ALL-AGES.

The Sentient Bean on Forsyth Park and The Metro Coffee House on MLK, Jr. Blvd. are essentially the only places in town which regularly book fledgling (or flat-out unknown) local original talent. And, while neither one is known for offering big money, they do provide an opportunity for nascent bands to hone their skills in front of the public, gain a local following and —hopefully— develop their image and show enough to be able to take it on the road.

Kiterunner has also played quite a bit at another low-key venue a few doors from The Metro. Guitar Bar, a 21+ club with a small, second-story performance space has become the entry-level room of choice for most left-of-center rock, metal and punk bands who lack either the draw, experience or simply the right look or sound to score a coveted slot at The Jinx or Hang Fire.

The band has spent many, many nights on that dimly-lit stage, playing for friends and strangers and slowly earning a core group of followers who appreciate getting the opportunity to watch a promising band evolve over time. Peoples says he’s pleased overall with the reception the band has received so far, and that he tries very hard not to place any preconceived notions of success or failure onto the project.

“Honestly, I’ve been in and around bands for so long now that I went into this one with no expectations. I knew that even if we were very good it could take a couple of years just to get known. But, I have been surprised a bit in a positive way. Our third show, we packed out The Sentient Bean. I was shocked by that. I still don’t know where all those people came from.”

The group, which cites such disparate (and iconic) groups as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Shins and Arcade Fire as key musical influences, writes and records spry, loping folk-into-rock tunes that meld instruments both acoustic (cello, drums, guitar) and electric (synthesizer, guitar, bass), and layers them with abundant (and odd) background vocal harmonies.

They’ve received tons of interest in their MySpace page, which offers free online streams of several ornate demos multi-instrumentalist Peoples cut some time ago with drummer Clay Schmidt. The frontman says that his Thesis in Sound Design (due in about two years) will be a full-length Kiterunner album made in SCAD’s recording new recording studio.

“I think I have much better songs in me,” he muses, “and the more this band plays together the better it becomes. Hopefully we’ll create something a bit unique.”

“How generic is that, huh? That’s probably what everybody says.”

Kiterunner and Pink Kodiak open for critically-acclaimed Indianapolis “jungle folk” act Grampall Jookabox at Guitar Bar Wednesday, November 7 at 10 pm. For more info: www.myspace.com/kiterunnerband, www.myspace.com/grampalljookabox.

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Jim Reed

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Connect Today 12.02.2016

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