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Songs You Need to Know: Running Joke: ‘Community’ & ‘GBY’

“Shedding the cynicism of my youth and being okay with feeling things and being vulnerable had a huge impact on these songs,” explains Running Joke.

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As Tom Matheson looks to strengthen their hold on the independent South Australian music scene, their latest project – Running Joke – has offered up a new side to their musical abilities, with “Community” and “GBY” arriving today as part of a double-single release.

Already known as both a prominent founder of acclaimed indie label Swirl Records, and for their work as a member of Ricky Albeck & The Belair Line Band, most lovers of Adelaide music might have known them best as a member of four-piece rockers SIAMESE.

Known for their self-described “grunge-alt-rock-shoegaze” melting pot of sonic influences, SIAMESE faded away a few years back now, though their legacy remains. However, as Matheson continues to flex their musical muscles, the nascent Running Joke project looks to turn everything else on its head, with their new tracks not only combining rock sensibilities with pop influences, but showing that they’re something of a musical mastermind that can do no wrong.

“Both ‘Community’ and ‘GBY’ came at a strange time in my life,” Matheson explains. “I was touring with a few bands at the time and with university and work I barely had any time to write. These two tracks just sorta popped out of me in the little pockets of time I had between everything.

“Leaving behind the bitterness of my youth and being open with feelings and vulnerability had a huge impact on these songs,” they add. “Shedding the cynicism of my youth and being okay with feeling things and being vulnerable had a huge impact on these songs.

“It allowed me to open a can of worms and really dig into some deep personal issues that had been simmering in the back of my mind for a long long time.”

Undeniably, they’re stellar tracks that showcase the full extent of Matheson’s musical identity. While “Community” kicks off with blissful, clean guitar tones, it soon shows its teeth as a crushing breakdown pairs with slick rhythms and their powerful voice.

“‘Community’ can be broken down into two parts, the first, following an existentialist view on humanity, and the absurd ways we coexist within the world,” Matheson explains. “The second part looks at futurism, and given the current circumstances we are in – it looks pretty bleak.”

Meanwhile, “GBY” feels similar in terms of its vibe, yet features a broader scope in terms of the introspective fears its creator faced during their making.

“I’m not entirely sure what ‘GBY’ is about,” Matheson admits. “There is a lot to unpack there personally. Fear of abandonment, death and the future were having huge affects on me at the time, albeit most of it completely irrational.”

While both “Community” and “GBY’ serve as the first two songs from Running Joke, their immersive sound undeniably leaves listeners hoping that they won’t be the last we hear from the project. The only question that remains is just how many more projects Matheson will become involved in before Running Joke releases its next single.

Running Joke’s “Community” and “GBY” are out now via Swirl Records.