By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 23, 2008 at 5:26 AM

In 2005, Chicago's Sunday Runners -- fronted by former Mas Optica and Front of Truck guitarist Randy Diderrich -- released its self-titled debut disc on Machine Records and turned more than a few heads with its tuneful rock and roll.

When we talked to Diderrich then, he promised that despite the fact that his hand heavily guided the first CD, the band's second would be more a group effort.

After a series of events that conspired to slow down progress on that follow-up, the 10-song "Tame Animals" is set to be released Sept. 9, although it is already available digitally.

With a sound rooted in the ‘70s glam movement, "Tame Animals" is still rooted in the power pop of its predecessor.

We caught up with Diderrich, who recently moved back to Wisconsin with his family, and asked him about the band, the disc and what's been happening.

OMC: It's been three years since the debut, did the record take that long or did other things intervene?

RD: Many other things intervened. I was diagnosed with melanoma just as we started touring. It all worked out in the end and I am free of any cancer, but it scared the shit out of me! That slowed us down for a while.

Also, my wife gave birth to our first child ... a boy, Nicholas. And (guitarist Mason Brown) Mason's wife gave birth to their first daughter, Maggie. So, it was tough to go up on weekends to record. It's funny because I wanted to get this one done really quick ... three years later.

OMC: Tell us a bit about what life was like for the band once the first record came out. It seemed like it got a lot of good press. Did things change?

RD: We did get really good press, and it helped us as far as some of the touring goes. It's very challenging to set up a tour for a band that no one's ever heard of! Some doors were opened through the tireless work of the Machine Records staff. But we did keep our day jobs.

OMC: Maybe I'm off the mark, but "Tame Animals" seems to have much more of a '70s glam -- Bowie, T Rex -- vibe and sound than its predecessor. Does that reflect what the band's been listening to or long-held influences seeping through? Or am I just nuts?

RD: No, you're not nuts! I think what you're hearing is the collective effort on this record. It really is a band record, unlike the first one. Mason sings a few songs, we cover a Big Star song, and I think we all really love the music of that ‘70s era. We didn't consciously try to imitate any of that; it just came through. Also, the first record maybe felt a bit more varied, and I think this one is more concise. Plus, we all dyed our hair red and got mullets.

OMC: Can you tell us a bit about making "Tame Animals"? Did you guys enter the studio with finished songs and crank it out or was it more of a studio-created record, if you know what I mean by that: skeletons of songs that really got developed there?

RD: We had been playing almost all of the songs live for about a year before recording them, so we were pretty prepared with the basic arrangements.

You've got to leave a little room for studio f*ck-ups (and) magic. The exceptions were "Cutting Room Floor" and "Bravest Coward." The first, written by Mason, we cut up and pasted back together a few different ways in the studio.

The second, I was trying to create sort-of a "Memories left at Sea 2." We had a "whiz-kid" cellist come in and try a bunch of different things, and I got to goof around with a banjo and some other funky instruments.

OMC: I hear you moved back to southeastern Wisconsin. What's up with that? Does it mean the band will have more of a presence on the Milwaukee scene?

RD: I moved back from Chicago (in late June). My wife and I decided that we wanted to raise our son in a non-city setting, and all of his cousins and my family are here. I'm not sure if it will affect our Milwaukee presence. It's been so long since I paid any attention to the "scene" ... I'm not sure what the scene is anymore. Where should we play?

OMC: Are you touring behind the record?

RD: We'll do some regional show this fall when the physical release comes out. I'm considering trading in the van on a scooter!

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.