The Gestures—
Run, Run, Run/It Seems To Me

Released 1964 on Soma
The Seth Man, October 2002ce
Although this Minnesotan quartet was arranged in the exact formation of two of their musical avatars (namely, The Beatles and The Ventures) with the twin guitar/vocals of Dale Menten and Gus Dewey, bassist Tom Klugherz and Bruce Waterston on drums, their sound was exponentially fiercer than the sum of its influences via the sheerest incline of determination to make a statement on the A side of their first ever release, “Run, Run, Run.” A single, blinding surf guitar rushes up quickly to top volume as the first of many explosive surf drum fills ensue. Thematically located between The Beatles’ “Some Other Guy” and the sentiment of “Walk Don’t Run” only here advising their ex-dream-doll or possibly even themselves to (what else) “Run, Run, Run”! This was no cover of any of the similarly titled tracks by The Supremes, The Who, Sly & The Family Stone or The Velvet Underground but was penned by The Gestures’ own leader/vocalist/guitarist, Dale Menten. And The Gestures came on more like a surfed- and revved-up Knickerbockers what with the faded, though bravely learnt Beatle song structure fired up and propelled by the guitarists and especially the drummer: all of whom had probably clocked in an elapsed time of several months worth of evenings gathered eagerly around the rec-room record player listening to endless repeat plays of “Wipe Out,” “Walk Don’t Run” and many other touchstone 45s of the time alongside the inevitable overdose of the earliest Capitol and Vee-Jay releases by The Beatles. And although The Gestures were but only one of a crowded cellarful of hopefuls, “Run, Run, Run” is a stand out track because for each and every one of their Fab Four cues, there was an equal attendance of something else at play running underneath. And in the case of both sides of this single, it was the underlying Fender-reverbed surf riffs -- used to great and broke-neck effect on “Run, Run, Run” -- that powered it beyond mere homespun British Invasion. And with every sung ‘run’ in the chorus (which face it: is half the song) the guitars, bass and drummer all accent tightly and perfectly that you can FEEL that distinctly Fender downstroking every time it happens. The multi-fingered solo is brilliantly and quickly played: especially when you consider that this track was probably recorded with no overdubs and was practised in the family garage. Naw, probably the basement (I always thought so, anyway) because it FEELS basement; it SMELLS basement and absolutely REEKS of basement and I don’t mean just the mold spores but in the living, breathing power of life you feel rising in it, despite the fact it was conceived in that most forsaken area of any suburban house. There’s nowhere further down to go, it’s the foundation and the only place you can go is upwards and The Gestures well and truly did on “Run, Run, Run”: Vital in its franticness and hybrid Mersey-Surf going for it-ness and undaunted by lack of production or any promise of stardom beyond their home state of a thousand lakes. The bridge features a furiously beaten hi-hat miked to sound like a half empty box of breakfast cereal rapidly shaken in front of a mike and processed through an over-equalised distortion unit. On the flipside “Seems To Me” the same thing happens to the vocals every time the ‘s’ is pronounced in the title. And although the intro could be mistaken for a fossilised version of Quicksilver’s “Fresh Air” seven years before its release, it’s more a primitive, low-key surf intro for another lament though far slower because a) it’s the B-side of a 1964 pop single and b) because they were obviously teenage virgins who were so naïve that singing the lines “the world is bad, bad, bad” and “There must be a way out/I’ll find a way out/I’ll stay away from love” seem to be a sop for their likewise pre-intercourse audiences as they ruminate on a wicked world with no real closure at all. Which is fine: because it’s teenage as hell. And a rapid-fingered, surfing guitar solo complete with the dampest of reverb flows from Menten’s fingers, as does a final vibrato’d conclusion which ends this compact summation of all the things they’d learnt up to this point. Triumphant in tone despite the bummed-out B-side, it’s a celebration all the same and no shallow bravado anywhere.

The Gestures’ sole output were but two singles on Soma (and subsequently re-released in 1965 on Apex) in as many years, despite the fact “Run, Run, Run” hit both regional and national pop charts the year of its release. In 1996, Sundazed released an album they never got to make in their own time “Meet The Gestures.” Collecting their sole two singles together with three more Dale Menten originals (two versions of “I'm Not Mad”, the instrumental “Savage World” and “Stand By Me”), the remainder of the album is comprised of cover versions.