The Tunnel Kings

The Tunnel Kings


It is the sophisticated yet innocent take on music that comes only from a group of musicians growing up together that sets the Tunnel Kings apart. Their music is varied and ever-evolving; taking their raw indie side from Modest Mouse and their introspective lyricism from Bruce Springsteen.


Kindergarten rivals-turned-bandmates River Donaghey and Jason Waldrip began playing guitar together in fifth grade. Taking their name from from the movie The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, the band had a full lineup and a couple of shows under their belts before high school began.

Inspirations ranging from River's obsession with existential writers to drummer Asa Clifford's love of the Wu Tang Clan, the Tunnel Kings' music is varied and ever-evolving. Their sound has been compared to early Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Tokyo Police Club among others... But the Tunnel Kings refuse to be pinned down to a certain genre. With two albums and a new EP, each piece of work stands separate from the last, showing the band's maturation throughout the years. They have shared the stage with local favorites the Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers, indie godfathers Mission of Burma, and blues rockers Rose Hill Drive, among others.

Recently, the band has been negotiating with producer Brian Deck about the possibility of working with him on their third full-length album. Deck has lent his hands to records by Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine, and Ugly Casanova, along with many more. Only time can tell what kind of strange and beautiful noises will come from their collaboration.


New Freedom Fighter's Manual

Written By: River Donaghey

And the television's on like a window to the soul of America
Let's keep the lights off
Until the loneliness is gone

And tonight I'm finding constellations in the freckles on your body
And my arm's falling asleep
Don't worry about the phone calls.

Tonight all the lonely people riot and no one escapes unharmed.

A Few Weeks of Early Summer

Written By: River Donaghey

We refused to let the night die
Blacked out the windows, locked out the sunlight
We spent a few weeks of early summer
high as hell and wanting answers no one really had
We drank until we forgot the days
we were sad because the people we admired were sad

And we can't sustain for much longer
But we can push the borders
We can slip away

I always feel guilty on these nights
Cuz you're more talkative when you've got a few beers inside you
And part of me likes you better with your guard down
Before you're born your father shoots you out in perfect ghost form
And its all downhill from there.

We can't sustain, etc

We can stay up all night at a mutual friend's
And I'll fall asleep with a spinning head
And the smoke'll escape our mouths
Like our spirits when our lives end

Maybe this is as good as it gets.

Valentine's Day

Written By: River Donaghey

When the wind blows the clouds away from around your face
I tend not to remember the winters, so slow
And how the cold feels so alone, feels so alone
the tangled blankets they weigh heavy on the soul

And we are just people, we pick up roles
As fathers and as lovers and as wives
When we break character we barely realize
As the shells we used to be slip on by

In the sun-drenched fields
the colors reflect so brilliantly in your eyes
All the while, mothers teach their children about the pale blue sky
When we're young we learn our limitations
They set so hard when you get old

And we are just people, etc

You're so young and full of life
And someday you will die
I will wash you in the air
With the water that those who love you cry
And we'll break into a billion fragments
And scatter across the endless night
We'll live forever in the ones we love
And help them finally feel whole

And we are just people, we pick up roles
As humans and as trees and butterflies
When we break character we barely realize
As the bodies we used to be slip on by.

Elephant America

Written By: River Donaghey

I am the long, sharp ivory tusk
On the hulking elephant America
Old and bloated, falling without grace
Its legs are buckling beneath its massive frame

But somewhat majestic as it makes
Its slow-motion fall from space
Losing the battle with the one almighty gravity

I am the long, sharp ivory tusk
On this hulking elephant America

Eventually your time will come
And I'll go down with you, America
All bone-white in the late afternoon sun.

Gravity Will Crush Us

Written By: River Donaghey

At your parents' beach house you slept next to me
Like a patient on a gurney
I watched gravity hold you down
As you sleep

Slipping shoes over bare feet
3 am, walking clumsily down to the beach
Stumbling from the lack of sleep
The alcohol wore off but we still felt so free

Drunken college kids mistake us for friends
I'll sit back and let them
We can matter to someone
And the waves will pull the sand out to sea

Gravity will crush us someday.


Remi and the Admiral Freebee (2006)
Nausea (2007)
Freedom Fighter - EP (2008)
Songs for and Inspired by America (2008)

Set List

Our normal set is around an hour, but we have enough material to cover more. The set is usually all originals, although we have been known to pull out a rockin' cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". Depending on the venue, we can play anything from intimate downtempo sets to balls-to-the-wall loud punk sets.