Interview: Niiice. Have Fun & Honor The Boss with Dynamic “Born To Run” Springsteen Cover

Niiice © Bethünni Schreiner
Niiice © Bethünni Schreiner
Niiice. pay tribute to Bruce Springsteen with a faithful cover of “Born to Run.”
Stream: “Born to Run”- Niiice.

In the realm of iconic rock songs, there’s few an artist with a discography as iconic as Bruce Springsteen, and there’s no song that signifies the Boss’ contributions to the history of rock music as well as 1975’s “Born to Run.” On the heels of their excellent 2020 album Internet Friends, Minnesota’s Niiice took on the Springsteen classic with gusto.

Performed in front of green screens, with the band’s members donning 80s blue-collar attire, the band play the classic track over scenes of massive audiences, spaceship launches, and even a few clips of the Boss himself. Lead vocalist Roddie Gadeberg told Atwood over the phone as he was on a road trip that they were trying to make “the most ridiculous, over-the-top, green-screen video.”

Born to Run - Niiiice
Born to Run – Niiiice

Covering any Springsteen song is no-easy feat, and the decision to play it straight is certainly ambitious. Unlike much of Internet Friends’ personal lyrics that are often delivered with a sense realness that makes them close to home, the band’s take on “Born to Run” sounds like a group having the time of their lives while paying homage to one of their musical heroes (complete with a sax solo performed by bassist Abe Anderson’s father). Gadeberg said that the fact Niiice don’t take themselves too seriously is part of what lead them to take on Springsteen’s grandiose epic.

“I think both our music is very fun for the most part,” Gadeberg said. “I think [we] both talk about some more serious stuff, but it’s never in a really—I don’t think either is over-serious music. I know we definitely aren’t over-serious.”

The Niiice singer said that “Born to Run” was the first Springsteen song that caught his attention, and it spoke to him the same way that the track has spoken to so many  that have dreamed of escaping their hometowns for a more exciting life. “I’m from a small town in Montana, and hearing [‘Born to Run’], and just wanting to leave Montana for so bad for so long, lyrics like that and songs like that are like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna get the fuck outta here,’” he explained.

In the day, we sweat it out on the streets
Of a runaway American dream
At night, we ride through mansions of glory
In suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on Highway 9
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin’ out over the line
Oh, baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Born to Run (both the album and song) has a special reverence among Springsteen fans. Despite being very early in his career, it sets something of the archetype for what Springsteen is. Even though songs throughout the album set scenes of pulling out of town (“Thunder Road”), late night escapades (“Meeting Across the River”), and mean city streets (“Jungleland”), the title track’s ode to getting out of your hometown has transcended Bruce’s audience and become one of the most recognizable songs in rock history. With that, Gadeberg knew that if the band was going to take on the song, they had to give it their all. “We have to make this one good, because if it’s just like even sort of okay, it’s gonna be horrible,” he said.

The band succeeded in delivering an incredibly powerful take on the song that both honors the original message, while having fun.

Throughout Internet Friends, Gadeberg leans into throat-shredding vocals that have the sort of confessional lyrics that make you feel like he’s spilling his guts out to you. Even amid lines that have online slang (“You’re gonna see me smile/No cap, that’s all facts” in “Free Earl.”), others provide insight into navigating difficult relationships (“All your problems seem dramatic, I bet your parents never got divorced” in “Coachella”). While Springsteen’s have spoken truth to millions of people, the Jersey legend has never shied away from the fact that he’s often acting as a storyteller.

Gadeberg said that while he finds it easier to write from his own perspective, the Boss’ writing style helps him form a bond with characters that experienced things that he may have. “I obviously love Bruce Springsteen. I love the way he writes,” he said. “He writes in such a way that all of these stories and situations seem relatable. I don’t have a ’69 Chevy that I put together with my partner’s son to race in the street, but I feel like I’m there doing that when I’m listening to that song [‘Racing in the Street’].”

Bethünni Schreiner

Throughout his career, Springsteen has made it clear that he holds many of the same values by punk artists he’s influenced. It’s not surprising to hear the current crop of punk and emo bands list him as influence. Gadeberg said that even if the literal subject matter isn’t something that people have experienced, he chalks up part of the influence to his songwriting being relatable. “It feels so working class. It doesn’t feel like it’s some… fancy guy. He’s the Boss,” Gadeberg said.

Overall, Gadeberg said the fact that Springsteen has always seemed like the type of guy you’d want to grab a beer with is part of why his music has transcended generations. He’s also held tight to the values that he’s sung about for decades, even if he’s occasionally misinterpreted by people with differing politics (see: “Born in the USA”). “He never just became some boomer who’s super conservative now and wants to hang onto his money. He just seems like a pretty good dude,” Gadeberg said.

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Stream: “Born to Run”- Niiice.

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