By Dawn Duncan
Tickle Me Pink is a rock band that made Colorado history when they hit the music scene hard and fast, getting signed to Wind-Up Records in just two years (a monumentally short amount of time by comparison to most acts), and enjoyed massive accolade and radio play. Their 2008 album Madeline hit #21 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers Chart and was followed by a 2010 EP, On Your Way Down. The most recent lineup consisted of Sean Kennedy, Stefan Runstrom, Joey Barba, and Steven Beck.
Even after parting ways in 2011, fans have continued to follow TMP and now will be treated to a long-awaited return to the stage when the band reunites officially on August 13. I talked with members Sean Kennedy (lead singer) and Stefan Runstrom (drummer) about the band’s current projects as well as some history.
DD: For some, the Tickle Me Pink reunion comes as a huge surprise. For others, perhaps the diehard hopefuls who have followed the band since the beginning years, it is a long-anticipated and expected event. What spurred the band into action to reunite and why now?
SR: We got an email earlier this year from Bohemian Nights asking if we wanted to play New West Fest. Jokingly, I forwarded it to the guys and was like, “Finally, our big break!” I got a response back immediately from Sean that was like, “Well, what’s the guarantee?” So that sort of set the whole thing in motion. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. The response from our fans so far, who are all now mid-late 20’s, is total nostalgia.
DD: Tell us how TMP has evolved, what things have happened and developed while you’ve been rejuvenating this act. What can fans expect from this reunion in terms of your sound and the themes/messages you’re presenting?
SR: Since TMP’s last show in 2011, we all kind of went our separate ways. Joey and I live out in L.A. now and we’ve all done a lot of moving around and playing with other bands, producing etc. If anything, I’d like to think we’ve all gotten a lot better at our instruments.
SK: To be honest, I think we just want to play our record ‘Madeline‘ in its entirety and not screw it up.
DD: Talk about the music itself—-Is everyone contributing to the writing of the music and lyrics or is there a main songwriter in the band?
SR: Sean has always been the main songwriter and lyricist, but it really is a group effort. We’ve been lucky to work with a bunch of songwriters and producers over the years who helped craft our sound.
DD: You guys rose really fast —–Are you looking to ramp up that quickly again? Why or why not?
SR: Sean and I started Tickle Me Pink while we were still in high school. Two years after our first show, we signed a record deal and released our debut full-length album ‘Madeline‘. The day the record was released, Johnny (Schou), our bass player, passed away from an accidental drug overdose. Just two weeks after that, we made the decision to support the album and toured the country for 10 months solid. It was a rollercoaster. Looking back, I don’t think we were at all prepared for the shit we went through. Now that we are older, I think when we do stuff like these shows, it’s a lot less serious and we can just relax, play our old songs and have fun.
At some point, I would love to tell the whole story of TMP.
DD: Describe the “new Tickle Me Pink” in terms of the band’s vibe, personality, and image? What do you want people to know about the band and its music?
SR: Overall, much less hair.
We actually got together out here in L.A. for a couple days last month to write some new music and rehearse. If everyone’s schedules line up again, we hope to record a song or two just for fun.
SK: The vibe is very much the same. We all fall right back into our old roles for sure.
What is the band’s goal right now in terms of recording and touring?
SR: Since we announced these shows, we’ve had a ton of people hit us up about doing some tours and playing more shows. At this point, we just want to get together and play. If it’s still feeling good, then we will absolutely consider a small tour or another EP.
DD: Tell us something humorous, self-deprecating, embarrassing, or shocking about TMP as a band. We like the dirt.
SR: One of the stupidest things we ever did as a band was when we were on tour in Chicago. We had just had a flat screen TV installed in the back of our van that was hooked up to a Playstation. It was rad… and also ridiculous. After the show, we went to our hotel downtown. Our van and trailer was too big to fit in the lot, so we had to park in this super shady, sketchy spot a few blocks away. Stupid. Second mistake, we accidentally left our cash box in the van that night that had thousands of dollars in it. I think we were so excited about being in the most amazing city in the world, that we forgot that people like to steal shit.
The next morning, we walked back to the van and everything was gutted. Whoever jacked us that night scored huge. We didn’t have a radio and they stole our GPS (this was pre-Google Maps) so we had to stuff our phones in the cupholders for music and use actual maps.
DD: Is there anything you want to let fans know as you approach this August 13 show?
SR: We are unbelievably grateful that we still have fans that want to see us play and still listen to our songs.
We are playing a full set at Hodi’s on Saturday 8/13. The lineup is going to be insane, and were playing the entire ‘Madeline’ record. Tickets are going quickly!
SHOW: August 13, 9 pm to 1:30 am, Hodi’s, $15 ADV, $20 DOS (+$5 under 21)
Band Information: facebook.com/ticklemepink or ticklemepinkrock.com