Runner Up

Sounds like: MXPX, Homegrown, and the Starting Line.

This file contains everything Chad Smith was able to track down: several demos and the In Memory EP.


When it comes to Runner Up, I wouldn’t consider myself an authority on the band’s history. We didn’t travel in the same circles during the band’s early days. But towards the middle and late era of Runner Up (which would have been about 2003), I spent a lot of time hanging out with Sean, Tom, Chris, Christian, and – of course, ever-present roadie, hype-man, and future VIFL vocalist – Chad Smith. All five of them – in addition to myself and many of my friends and band mates – worked at the same assisted living home in Port Orange, Florida. We spent our shifts screwing around, throwing rolls at each other, getting hit on by old ladies, washing dishes, and just the general fuckery you get up to at your first job, especially when you work with your friends. Guitarist Chris and I were on dish duty quite often and there were nights when, rather than scrubbing them, we resorted to throwing various pots and pans in the lake behind the kitchen.

rutomjumpInstead of remembering Runner Up for their musical ability (they were teenagers years ahead of their time), the thing most people remember about the band nowadays is the passing of their drummer Sean. If I’m not mistaken, Sean was fifteen when he died of leukemia. It was a terrible loss for everyone who knew him. There are very few people in the world who can be described as universally good and well-liked, but Sean was one of them. I was lucky enough to count him among my friends and I was always in awe of his talent behind the drum kit. It was a shame to see him go. One of my favorite memories of Sean was when a group of us went to see him in the hospital to keep his spirits up. We had this crazy friend Alex who would do anything to make people laugh. One of his favorite stunts was to hold his breath between his knees until he passed out for a few seconds. When we got to Sean’s room, Alex passed himself out, but when he fell back no one caught him and he hit his head, knocking himself out cold. But Sean laughed his ass off so it was worth it.

Even though the loss of Sean will always be remembered by his family, friends, and band mates, the music Runner Up created should not be glossed over. They had a sound that was very common for the day, only they polished it to an art form (as evidenced on In Memory, their final recording). Sure, that kind of bubblegum pop punk sounds dated today, but back then, there were a lot of bands doing it. However, there were only a handful that did it well and Runner Up Was one of them.

bandmodelingRunner Up left behind a sizable amount of recordings for such a young band, all of which I’ve included at the link above. Tom went on to start Virginia Is For Lovers with Chad and the rest of the guys went on to other, non-musical endeavors. I believe Chris moved to California and got married. I’ve written several things about the band over the years, which can be read on Every Waking Moment‘s and Virginia Is For Lovers‘ pages. The band’s final performance took place at the long-gone Performing Arts Center, here in South Daytona. It was a memorial show for Sean, one which I was honored to play. The video is available here. The first time I popped the original copy in my VCR a few years ago, the tape broke. I immediately went on YouTube and learned to repair VHS tapes because I couldn’t stand the thought of this show being lost.