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In April of 2003 Shaun Cooper asked his friend John Nolan, "Do you want to commit career suicide?" "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do," John replied, and one month later Straylight Run began. But while Shaun and John agreed on the concept of abandoning everything they had known to form a new band, they were only two people with an idea for a band, and no actual band yet. They had some songs though, and with some help from their friend Mark O‘Connell on the drums, they recorded demo versions with John on lead vocals, guitar and piano and Shaun on bass guitar. The songs they recorded laid out a blueprint for the bands sound: piano and guitar based pop songs that would incorporate samples, drum loops and interesting sounds wherever possible.
After they finished recording, they were very excited with the results, but were still only a two piece and in need of a permanent drummer. It came to their attention that Will Noon, drummer for the band Breaking Pangaea had recently become available. Shaun and Will had played together as teenagers and both Shaun and John were familiar with the excellent work he had done in Breaking Pangaea, so they asked him if he‘d like to join the band. Will said yes, and after a month of practicing as a trio, they were ready to add one more person. They talked about who that person should be and soon decided on John‘s sister Michelle, who had been writing songs and playing guitar and piano for years, but had never been in a band.
With the band‘s line-up finally complete, they practiced and recorded a few more songs in the next months and were soon ready to make their presence known to the world, all they needed was a name. After much deliberation and debate, Will brought a name to the band that he had taken from the science fiction novel Neuromancer. It had no particular significance, but somehow it sounded mysteriously significant. It didn‘t bring to mind any specific type of band, but it sounded vaguely familiar. It was perfect. With a name agreed on they made the six songs they had recorded available to the world, posting them free of charge on their website.
Soon, they went on a short headlining tour of the Northeast, starting with a sold-out show at home, in Long Island, New York. In October Straylight Run went on a full U.S. tour, co-headlining with The New Amsterdams, followed by a U.K. tour in direct support of Brand New. By February of 2004 they were ready to record a full length album, and in March they went up to Apple Head Studios in Woodstock N.Y. to record with producer Mike Birnbaum, who is known for his work with bands as diverse as Bad Brains, John Mayer and Coheed and Cambria. "Working with Mike was great," said John,"he has a beautiful studio that he built up on this big ranch in the middle of the woods. We all stayed in a cabin across from the studio and it was very tranquil there. At times it could be a bit boring...but always tranquil."