The End of the World Running Club – Musical Influences by Adrian J Walker

CBJJ16 - DR - May - End of the World Running Club Fm Music helps me run and write, so it was only natural that it helped me write about running.
The End of The World Running Club is about Ed – an underachieving, overwhelmed husband and father – who finds himself separated from his family after the UK is devastated by an asteroid strike. With only weeks to get from Edinburgh to Cornwall before he loses them forever, his only option is to run.
Ed’s struggle is chronicled against the backdrop of a ruined country. Very few people have survived, the landscape is wiped clean, the cities are razed.
(In the words of Eddie Izzard – an inspirational runner – it’s an ‘Etch-a- Sketch’ end of the world.)

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To help me create this devastation, I listened to a fair amount of ethereal, ambient music. The drones, sweeps and echoes gave me the sense of a landscape that had suddenly been emptied of life. But I also wanted to get across the feelings I associate with running – the pain, the frustration, the joy, the elation. And for that I raided my own arsenal of running tracks – I made a playlist of the music I listened to most while I wrote the book, which you can find on Spotify. Here are a few of the highlights…

Laika’s Journey by Max Richter

I associate this with the first chapter, during which Ed reflects on the events he is about to share with us. Max Richter always gets my hairs standing on end. That rumbling industrial noise beneath all those echoing tines reminds me of early-morning runs when there’s nobody but you and the sound of distant traffic.

 

Copy of A by Nine Inch Nails

I am just a copy of a copy of a copy

Everything I say has come before

Assembled into something into something into something

I don’t know for certain any more

A song about someone struggling with their own identity – this is Ed before the world ends.

It just builds and builds, threat mounting with every verse until all hell breaks loose at 3:02. Try slowing down when you’re running to that!

 

Hell Broke Luce by Tom Waits 

Left, right, left

Left, right, left

Listen to the General every god damn word

How many ways can you polish up a turd?

I love Tom Waits and one day I will be his friend, but there’s not much of his music you can run to. This is the exception – a bone-breaking drill- march with pig grunts, machine guns, explosions, gramophone scratching and a guitar that sounds like it’s being run through a diesel engine. And over the top of the chaos: Waits ranting about war in his trademark growl.

 

The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams

At various points in the book Ed reflects upon his childhood, which was spent, like me, in the English countryside. Vaughan Williams always conjures up that idyll of endless summers, hazy fields and babbling brooks, but there’s a sadness to this piece as well – one claim is that Williams wrote it watching soldiers leave for war in 1914 – a feeling of loss for something beautiful you never really knew.

 

Sabotage by Cancer Bats 

So while you sit back and wonder why

I got this fucking thorn in my side

Oh my God, it’s a mirage

I’m telling’ y’all it’s sabotage

Beastie Boys fans will hate me, but I think this beats the original. I listened to this on repeat while writing the chase through Manchester. Full throttle Canadian hardcore punk!

 

Covered in Writing by Eluvium 

Without giving away too much, there is a scene where I, er, delete Birmingham. In its place I put a hole. I tried all sorts of ways to imagine a 100-mile-long canyon – I even used Google Earth and some overlaid imagery to get a feel for the scale. But in the end it was this piece, which makes me feel like I’m free-falling through the dreams of a dying whale, that did the trick.

 

Midnight by Coldplay 

In the darkness before the dawn

In the swirling of the story

When I’m rolling with the punches and hope is gone

Leave a light a light on

I’m not a big fan of Coldplay, but I truly believe they created a beautiful piece of music with Midnight. It chills me every time I hear it and it provided the atmosphere for a chapter called Church. An important character has just died and the group are grieving with an impossible challenge ahead of them. But hope rises from the despair.

 

Searching With My Good Eye Closed by Soundgarden

Painted blue across my eyes

And tie the linen on

And I’m on my way

If the theory that everyone has a ‘natural’ age is true, then mine is definitely 18.

In 1993, my world was long hair, stupid clothes, drinking in fields, smoking in forests and generally messing about to a constantly growing soundtrack of indie, metal, grunge, folk and punk. And from that soundtrack, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden is the album that has stuck with me through thick and thin.

The whole record, for me, is about a man at odds with himself and everything around him, and I wanted to leave Ed with a song from it at the end of the book.

This psychedelic grinder – Kim Thayil’s Guild S100 thrashing like a live power cable in a flooded basement, Ben Shepherd’s bass thundering like a drove of hogs, Matt Cameron’s kit so tight it feels like it’s going to snap and Chris Cornell’s almighty voice soaring through it all – is on every playlist I’ve ever run to.

Try it full blast on a hill climb, and see, at 4:57, if you don’t get the shivers.

 

I also composed a piece of music whilst writing The End of the World Running Club, which I’m pleased to say my publishers have included on the audiobook… Thanks for listening!

 

 

CBJJ16 - DR - May - End of the World Running Club Fm
THE END OF THE WORLD RUNNING CLUB
May
Adrian J Walker
9781785032660
PB
c. £7.99
Edgar Hill is 35 and caught in his own headlock. Overweight slob, under-performing husband and reluctant father – for Ed, the world may as well have already ended. So when it does end in a catastrophic asteroid strike and Edgar and his family find refuge in an Edinburgh army barracks, it comes as something of a relief.
But nothing’s ever that simple. Returning from a salvage run in the city, Edgar finds his family gone, taken to the south coast for evacuation by an international task force. Suddenly he finds himself facing a gruelling journey on foot across a devastated United Kingdom. Edgar must race against time and overcome his own short-comings, not to mention 100 mile canyons and a heavily flooded west coast, to find the people he loves before he loses them forever…
A vivid, gripping story of hope, long-distance running and how we break the limits of our own endurance.
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More:

You can check out more musical inspirations and writings of select books and graphic novels on Carabas here and discover more great Del Rey titles from the same period here and other top June picks here!