Tickle Me Pink Biography
Formed in 2005, Tickle Me Pink includes Sean Kennedy (lead vocals, guitar, bass), Johnny Schou (bass, guitar, backup vocals), Stefan Runstrom (drums), and Steven Beck (guitar, vocals). Tickle Me Pink has built a loyal following by playing hundreds of live shows and independently releasing two EPs, If Only We Were Twenty One And Up (2005) and Half Seas Over (2006), and their newly conceived full-length, Madeline. Selling out the 650-capacity Aggie Theater in Fort Collins, Tickle Me Pink has become one of the biggest bands in Colorado. The band has toured throughout the United States, gaining fans wherever they go.
Tickle Me Pink recorded their debut album, Madeline, at The Blasting
Room in Fort Collins. Produced by Lee Miles (The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus), the
epic album explores brutal breakups, love, loss, drug use, mortality and the
trappings of suburbia.
Tickle Me Pink singer and lyricist Sean Kennedy used Madeline as a means to challenge his own personal demons. “I have lots of inward battles. I was raised in a very religious home; I constantly struggle with my conscience, a higher purpose, contentment and the curse of always wanting more,” says Kennedy. “I have to make music, it makes me whole, and it is a part of my blood and soul.”
Standout track “The Time Is Wrong” is a song that deals with inner conflict and personal struggle. Kennedy explains, “This is a darker song about the devil within us all. Its goal is to portray how selfish our flesh is. There might be a raging battle in our heads, but we are too prideful to not hurt someone else, someone else who is unhappy brings comfort. So what would make you feel better: hurting the person so they are miserable alongside you, or being alone for the night? The entire song is an internal struggle.”
With only two members of the band able to legally drink, the musical prowess and bleeding of youth is evident in Tickle Me Pink. The band’s blunt force trauma of honesty and exploration of life is captured on Madeline. Despite their age, each band member has accumulated years of experience.
Sean Kennedy has played music for over 11 years, taking lessons for opera, guitar and piano. Kennedy has developed a unique style all of his own and was trained by classical guitarist Dave Beegle. Outside of Tickle Me Pink, he also released an acoustic solo album in 2006.
Guitarist and bassist Johnny Schou has an ear for songwriting that far exceeds his age. The co-writer of Tickle Me Pink cut his teeth as an assistant engineer at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins where he worked with the legendary Bill Stevenson (The Descendents, Black Flag, Lemonheads).“I began working under Bill when I was 17. He was the first “father figure” in my life, and I quickly picked up on his ideas and approach to not only music and producing but also life. Bill is the most humble and modest person I know; the hours spent with him are really what make me the person I am today. I have a no bullshit approach to life,” says Schou.
Serving as an engineer at The Blasting Room, Schou worked on a wide-range of albums that helped shape his appreciation for songwriting and recording. Schou worked on albums from modern punk legends like Propagandhi (Potekmin City Limits), The Descendents (Myage), The Casualties (Under Attack), Comeback Kid (Wake The Dead, Broadcasting) and his all-time favorite band, Rise Against (The Suffer And The Witness).
Drummer Stefan Runstrom was immediately added to Tickle Me Pink when fellow members watched him win a battle of the bands on his own. A session drummer and drum teacher, Runstrom’s powerful technique is the backbone of Tickle Me Pink. Runstrom started playing at the age of 12. His early inspiration was classic rock, particularly John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. After Bonham, it was Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters who really made Runstrom want to play drums.
Tickle Me Pink were a three piece for over a year before guitarist Steven Beck joined the group. The band played the Coors Amphitheatre in Denver with Social Distortion when they decided that they needed another member for a bigger live sound. Beck has been playing guitar since age six. Beck has taught guitar for four years at the Academy of Guitar in Fort Collins and currently teaches over 30 students at the Academy and hosts a live show with them every three months.
Influential Denver radio station KTCL added “Typical” in late 2007 and
generated a substantial amount of interest behind the band. The station has been
credited with helping jumpstart the careers of Colorado artists including The
Fray, Meese and Single File. Tickle Me Pink signed with Wind-Up Records in
January 2008, choosing a label that shared the band’s philosophy of long-term
career development. The band was signed by Wind-Up Records Executive Vice
President of A&R Diana Meltzer, who has signed artists such as Evanescence,
Creed, Finger Eleven and Seether.
The urgency and depth of Tickle Me Pink is best captured with the title track of their new album. "Madeline" is a cautionary tale of substance abuse, documenting the death of the album's namesake heroine. "Madeline" is introduced slowly with Kennedy's quiet vocals, picking up stream as the stomping of the bass and drums beat down. The beautifully tragic song builds sharply; accelerating at an ambitious pace into a frantic frenzy as the words “Madeline” are screamed.
Kennedy states, “Madeline represents my friends who have gone off of the deep end. It illustrates how sorry I feel that my impact on some of my friends has not been more positive. Every activity shared in the song may have been fun at the time, but ultimately brought Madeline to her death. Living with the thought that you might have been the final straw is a tough mental battle.”
With influences that recall the bombastic tension of At The Drive-In, the heart-on-the-sleeve approach of Brand New, the pop sensibilities of Third Eye Blind and the explosive energy of Rage Against The Machine, Madeline defies convention. With an onslaught of modern artists pigeonholed into singular sounds, Madeline is an eclectic offering that changes colors like a chameleon, yet never loses its heart or identity.