Tony Bucci, the singer and guitarist behind Broken Field Runner, has spent the past three years working on a musical self-portrait. Instead of one full album, though, Bucci has sought to capture the different sides of his songwriting in three distinct EPs.
On 2020’s BROKEN, Bucci worked closely with Jo-Jo Rose (who has played bass in Broken Field Runner performs solo as Nxnes), combining electronic beats with politically-minded lyrics and shimmering guitars to create a darker pop aura on tracks like the stuttering “MOUTHS” and the kicky “511s/501s.” In 2021, Bucci recorded FIELD with Jayden Seely, showcasing a more organic, acoustic songwriting style; whether it is the gentle intensity of “Obliterated,” the shimmering stomp-clap of “Shrouds,” or the somber spoken-word interludes, FIELD reveals a band that finds meaning in the macabre.
RUNNER, released in March of 2022, showcases more of the Broken Field Runner that broke through on their 2015 debut Clear A Space In Heaven So This Earth Can Breathe. “Runner is probably the closest release of the three to what people might have already expected from a BFR release,” says Bucci. “These songs were written just before and during the height of the pandemic when Nazzo [drummer Alonso Figueroa] and I started to feel more comfortable with being in the same room again and reflect a return to my musical roots.”
Squarely placed where heart-on-sleeve pop-punk meets scrappy indie rock, those roots are on full display throughout RUNNER. Songs like “Baby Satan” and “In the Sunshine,” with their soaring, sing-along choruses and bouncing momentum. Beneath these bright songs, Bucci’s lyrics paint with the same somber, macabre colors as on the previous EPs. “Save You,” with its warm colors and resounding guitars, seems so melodically and rhythmically uplifting. In the opening lines, though, Bucci sings, “Wasting away, you’ve been wasting away / And there’s nothing I can do to save you,” introducing a song flush with poetic images and metaphors that attempt to make sense of loss and acceptance.
“RUNNER runs the gamut, through,” says Bucci. “It’s got the seasonally appropriate songs about loss and death, sure, but it’s also got a song about the writing process and the pressures of genre, form, and function against the backdrop of artistic permanence. There’s a song about political action/inaction and the separate pipe dreams of incremental electoral social change under capitalism and revolutionary social movements. There’s another lifted almost directly from the vows I said to my wife on our wedding day. There’s a song about the Golden State Killer and the tragic death of Michelle McNamara, author of the book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”
For Bucci, Broken Field Runner has always been an attempt at emotional catharsis, a mood board that reflects his upbringing in ‘90s and’ 00s emo and pop-punk, his affection toward singer-songwriters, and his reverence for the written/spoken word. “Broken Field Runner is a prayer, an apology, and a stream of consciousness,” he concludes “It’s an argument, a misunderstanding, and a time capsule. It’s a statement of intent, a quest for understanding, and my view from in front of the mirror. Broken Field Runner is all of these things and it’s none of them, but it is mine and somehow I still love it despite it’s scars and embarrassments. It’s a reason to wake up in the morning.”