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An Interview with 4 Runner
By CSO European Contributing Journalist, Christian Lamitschka.

Question: How do you feel at the moment?
Answer: Well, the weather outside is sunny and it's very chilly today. Tonight is predicted to be about 10 degree farenheit. The Christmas season and New Years have just passed and we're all coming down from that happy high. 2004 looks very bright and promising

Question: What did the year bring you so far?
Answer: Much time with my wonderful family. I have two children, Savannah, 11 and Sam,

10 and my amazing wife of nearly 13 years, Donna. This time of the year allows the kids to be out of school and for my wife and I to take off work. We spend all our days and nights just hanging out as a family.

Question: What is your opinion about the Fan Fair in Nashville/TN?
Answer: I love the whole feeling of Fan Fair. For the longest time, it was the only style of music where the stars could personally thank their fans...throw parties...play in charity golf tournaments and baseball games...put on concerts...shake hands...pat backs...kiss babies. Fan Fair breaks down the wall that is traditionally between a celebrity and their fans.

Question: Record sales are declining in general. It is only Country Music that doesn't experience as dramatic declines as Pop- and Rock Music do. What to you think is the reason for that?
Answer: I believe other genres of music don't have as much of a cornerstone sound as country music. These days, what is pop music? What is rock and roll? Industrial rock? R and  B

these days could be hip-hop...rap or whatever. Country music, on the other hand, doesn't stray too far from it's base...from it's roots. I believe that at least partially explains why country continues on a steady track in sales. Country fans are very loyal!

Question: At the moment there is a real country music boom in Germany. The Dixie Chicks and E. Lou Harris had three concerts in Germany. When can we count on a concert with yourself in Germany?
Answer: 4Runner would love to have concerts in Germany. We would simply need an invitation to do so.

Question: If concerts organizers would like to book you for Germany / Europe, who would they need to contact?
Answer: Contact our manager, Vicky Hilliard on our our web-site, www.4runnerfans.com.

Question: Country music has many faces. Besides Pop, Rock, Cajun and Bluegrass there are many other elements in it. What is country music for you?
Answer: Country music is REAL. It is SINCERE. From the HEART. It doesn't beat around the bush, lyrically...it gets RIGHT TO THE POINT. Country music has lyrics you can hear and understand and are not buried in the music tracks. It tells stories of EVERY DAY PEOPLE...the SIMPLE MAN. Musically, it can wear many hats.

Question: Surely a lot of your fans would like to know what your plans for 2004 are and when we can expect a new CD from you?
Answer: 4Runner's plans for 2004 are to continue pulling singles off our last CD project, GETAWAY CAR. Get out and play as many concerts as we can. Participate in Fan Fair 2004. And perhaps by the middle of the summer, go back into the recording studio again. Who knows, maybe we'll do a German tour!

Question: How did you get to Country Music and when?
Answer: Well, this is Craig Morris writing to you. I grew up in the northeast corner of the state of Arkansas in the USA. Where I grew up, you pretty much only heard country and western...gospel...and bluegrass music being played. Singing and playing these styles was as natural as a fish is to water. My entire family, with no exceptions sang. Meaning all my aunts and uncles...all my cousins...my mom and dad, brother and sister...even grandma and grandpa sang. Many also played the piano, as I did. Family reunions were a hoot...we had quite a choir. My love of music moved into my writing songs at the age of 16 which eventually brought me to Nashville with my father to pitch my songs to publishing companies on Music Row. I began making trips to Nashville with him while I was a teenager. I've been fortunate in my career with my piano playing and singing, but the reason I came to Nashville was to write songs. My biggest joy is still writing songs.

Question: What does Country Music mean to you?
Answer: It is my love and my career. How many people get to do what they truly love to do? I feel that God has smiled upon me and blessed me far more than I deserve. That's what County Music means to me.

Question: How do you see the modern Acceptance in Country Music?
Answer: A new country fan is born every minute. Songs that were popular 20 years ago are brand new songs to the new country fan. I believe there will always be a fan base for country music.

Question: In what area would you say we could do some changes in the Country Music?
Answer: Don't ignore the older fans...don't ignore the older artists. Country music in not confined to a young demographic. I worked on a country music variety show called "Nashville Now" on the Nashville Network for almost 6 years. On this show, I was able to sing with all the living country greats and the newcomers too...at that time the newcomers were Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Garth Brooks...etc.

The show had tremendous ratings, as did the network. At some point they put control of the Network in the hands of what I'll call UN-country bean counters. Their only goal was making money for their company and they had no love of, or understanding of the COUNTRY FAN. Ultimately, they drove the show, and the network into the ground in an effort to draw a younger audience. They reached out for the younger fan at the expense of their older, loyal fans. I'm not saying that country music doesn't need to reach out to a younger demographic, but not at the expense of the longtime, extremely devoted fan.

Question: Do you have an actual CD on the market?
Answer: Yes, our current CD is titled, "GETAWAY CAR" and can be purchased on our web-site www.4Runnerfans.com.

Question: Which Point criterion were the Songs voted?
Answer: I think you're asking "what is the criterion for the songs we choose?" Usually, we all know when we've found a song that we MUST record. Occasionally, one of us will feel so strongly about a song that we'll lobby the others pretty heavy to record it. Basically, we look for unique, fresh lyrics and a melody that is perfectly married to that lyric.

Question: Do you write your songs on your on?
Answer: We've recorded a few of my songs. On the first 4runner project, we cut "HOME ALONE" and it was a single in the fall of 1995. On the 2nd project, One For The Ages, 4runner recorded, "EVERY DREAM". And finally, on our current project, I have "GOD, FAMILY AND COUNTRY", "LOVE SURVIVORS" and "TIDAL WAVE". On each of these songs, I co-wrote them with talented friends of mine.

Question: What comes to your mind about Nashville/TN and the music industry?
Answer: I think I covered that in the "what would you change about country music and the "what does country music mean to you?" questions.

Question: Which Song was most considerable to you in the history of the Country-Music? And why?
Answer: In the past 20 years, for me it was Garth Brooks' ballad, "THE DANCE"

Question: Would you say there is a worldwide difference by the Country-Fans? And which ones?
Answer: I find that country fans in some parts of the world are big traditionalists. They know more about country music than most fans here, and they appreciate the older style of country music.( I mean that they study the album cover, know the musicians, producers, harmony singers, songwriters etc. They know more about the music and everything that surrounds it.) Many radio stations in America turn their noses up to more traditional forms of country music.

Question: How would you rate the country music in your hometown?
Answer: Well, since I live in the Nashville, Tennessee area, I'd have to rate country music here pretty dog-gone high!

Question: How much do you believe that the influence of a song means in the public mind?
Answer: I have two ways of thinking on that question...One, a song can simply reflect a current reality in our society, or second, it can inspire and motivate a society...move a society to a way of thinking, or direct public thinking a particular direction. (I sound like a professor...sorry!)

Question: How would you describe the Style of the Music you play?
Answer: Harmony centered, R & B influenced, soulful music of the heart.

Question: Why did you just pick up this kind and not another one?
Answer: My heart is in this style of music more than any other. That is not to say that I don't love and appreciate other styles of music.

Question: How important do you feel the Contact is with the Fans? And why?
Answer: If I was a re-chargeable battery, the fans would be my battery charger.

Question: A very long incessant Trend is the fuse of Country- and Pop-Music. Where do you see the advantage and the disadvantage?
Answer: To a point, I don't mind the co-mingling of musical styles. It brings in fans from other styles of music to the country music consciousness. When the country industry and country radio is dominated by an ear-candy, sweet pop sound, then, in my opinion, they've removed the heart from the genre. It will dilute the country music industry to stray too far from its roots.

Question: Do you have any musical model? And if yes, why those once?
Answer: My mom and dad started bringing Charlie Rich records home when I was just a young boy. Before he was the "Silver Fox". I have always been a Charlie Rich fan. My parents also had an 8-track tape of Johnny Cash that we played over and over again when I was little. Johnny Cash IS country music. Or was...I had the good fortune to work with both of these great men on Nashville Now. I shook their hands, looked into their eyes and thanked them for the wonderful influence they had on me and the amazing music they made. Additionally, Billy Joel, Little David Wilkins, Barry Manilow, and Ronnie Milsap have influenced my music.

Question: How much influence does your musical development have in your private life?
Answer: I'm in an unusual place in life. There is no separation between my personal life and my professional life. My hobby is my work, my work is my hobby.

Question: How old where you when you discovered your love for Country music?
Answer: As far back as I can remember, I have listened to and loved country music. I'd say I was tapping my little toes to the beat of country music when I was in diapers.

Question: When was your first time to stand on stage?
Answer: It was in 2nd grade. We had an evening program for our parents and family and in an apron and chef's hat I sang the song, "Hot, Crossed Buns".

Question: Is there something you would like to tell your European Fans?
Answer: Get to know 4Runner!! Invite us over...we'd love to meet you and play our music for you!

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )

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