Self-proclaimed “friendly neighborhood mod” Nick Eng, 22, jammed out at the Silver Baron Lounge with the Run Up, a local band featuring Aaron and Daniel Sion, and Steven Martin. The singer-songwriter usually grooves on his own, but on September 21, Eng and friends performed a six-hour show, covering classic rock icons like the Beatles, Tom Petty and Elvis Presley to an intimate crowd.
Eng, who carries a minor resemblance to a young John Lennon with mop-top and heeled boots, caught the musical bug early on. Aside from growing up with classic rock playing in his house, the Beatles inspired young Eng to pick up the guitar in the fourth grade. “I was like ‘hey, they’re holding guitars!’” said Eng.
Eng has turned his passion into a solo career. While he enjoys being the frontman of his own band and writing on his own, rocking out with friends is always the most exciting option. There aren’t as many pressures like having to play his own stuff or sell merchandise.
“I feel more comfortable playing these sort of gigs because I’m a member of something; not everything is riding on me. For my own band, it’s my stuff and they’re my band, but we’re not A band. It can be hard,” said Eng.
Eng met brothers Aaron Sion, 26, and Daniel Sion, 29, a few years ago, but in the last three years, they have started performing together. When the guys met, they bonded over their similar musical backgrounds and being from Reno.
"I didn’t start playing with them until they started needing more members for different gigs. This is Aaron and Daniel’s personal project, but Aaron plays lead guitar in my band from time to time,” said Eng. “It’s just friends playing together and a want for money.”
“We perform with Nick quite a bit. The idea of a band as a singular is great, but we love performing with different musicians, and Nick’s probably our favorite,” said Daniel Sion.
The Sion brothers and Eng all grew up with music like the Beatles and the Doors playing in their household. Having similar musical backgrounds has made it easy for the guys to choose what songs to play during gigs.
“Us three (Sion brothers and Eng) share singing duties. Most of the time, the songs I want to pick are already on the setlist. It’s a democracy,” said Eng.
“I feel like there’s no democracy,” teased Steven Martin, 25, the long-haired drummer who joined the Run Up after finding their ad on Craigslist.
Though Eng loves collaborating with friends and the easygoing nature of playing with others, he loves working alone a little more.
“It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great when you are a unit. There’s a sense of comradery … I’ve collaborated with people and thrown ideas around, but I’ve never been able to personally work very well with writing with other people. Like on my albums, I do it all. I play instruments, I orchestrate everything in my head and I write everything. I mean, I have my engineer producer, but that’s not quite the same,” said Eng.
“So, you at least have a George Martin?” I joked with Eng, alluding to his love for the Beatles.
“Yeah, I have my George Martin!” said Eng, smiling at the reference.