Event Page: Flogging Molly at The Wilma 10/19/17
Comic books. Boredom. Rock’n’Roll. Video games. Misfits. Ramones. Weezer. The middle of America. The middle of Nowhere. Nirvana. Pizza. Dad’s record collection. Skateboards. Afropunk. More pizza. The quest to end FALSE ROCK.
That, in a nutshell, is RADKEY. Def: Rad-Key. As in: “The Key to Rad-Ness”.
That’s what you get when the needle hits plastic with RADKEY. It’s the sound of rock sharpened to its primal essence. Blasted over 15 tracks, courtesy of the Brothers Radke (the band name is a spin on their shared last name): 23 year-old guitarist and Danzig dead-ringer vocalist, Dee Radke, 21 year-old bassist Isaiah and 19 year-old drummer, Solomon, RADKEY’s Another Century debut, Delicious Rock Noise is the rare kind of power-riffing rock n’ roll phenomenon that literally explodes out of the speakers the minute opening track, “Dark Black Makeup” comes skulking in like a gang of disaffected teens on a goth-punk rampage.
Like any great rock band, the gas in RADKEY’s tank has been a will to rock on their terms. As pre-teens growing up in the Nowheresville of Saint Joseph, Missouri, they enrolled in rock n roll high school as their ticket out. With music-obsessed dad-and-former Wal-Mart employee, Matt Radke as road manager, the brothers played their first show opening for Fishbone in 2011 and haven’t looked back since.
The family van thundered across the nation, chewing up tires and splatting insects on the windshield as RADKEY gigged with the likes of Red Fang, Touche Amore and Against Me!. In 2013, The Cat & Mouse and Devil Fruit EP’s took RADKEY from sweaty backroom punk gigs to storming the UK’s Download, and the US’ Riotfest festivals, where the backstory of three African-American brothers raised on their dad’s vinyl collection was eclipsed every night as the band left audiences breathless with a messy punk n roll riot of their own.
“The last couple years have been really crazy,” says Isaiah, the most outspoken RADKEY. By 2015, things were at critical mass for RADKEY, having toured the US with Rise Against and appearing at Coachella and Japan’s Punkspring Festivals. “Travelling in England and in Europe was really cool for us. It’s incredible – and such a weird feeling – that you are doing something that is actually important to people. I never thought our music would become a thing that could take us to all of these places.”
Enlisting Arctic Monkeys producer/mixer Ross Orton to translate RADKEY’s several shades of pure rock fury, RADKEY went straight off the road into a studio in Sheffield, England, to record Delicious Rock Noise. The result is an across-the-board detonation of several shades of rock, punk and wild abandon. And riffs, riffs, riffs.
“[Ross] really showed us what our band was capable of doing,” says Isaiah. “Before making the record, it was all about playing fast and energetic.” Delicious Rock Noise is hardly a loud-fast-rules affair. Songs like “Romance Dawn” is punctuated with arena ready chants while “Love Spills” proves RADKEY has a coolness and swing beyond their barely-out-of-their-teen years. And, of course, “Glore” is a full-throttle hardcore whirlwind that proves RADKEY can thrash with the best of ‘em. The video for “Glore” has become the trio’s calling card: a stop-motion, psychedelic headtrip intent on aurally and visually disemboweling pop culture itself featuring the stop motion avatars of the band playing video games and eating pizza. “We had no idea how perfect and how intense it was going to come out, says Isaiah. “It’s the sort of video you see new things in every time you watch it: crazy things – and it’s completely us!”
“We wanted to show people that you can still make a proper rock record,” explains Isaiah. “Something that is both super catchy and super heavy. We want people to hear it and think: Fuck yeah!” The song “Marvel”, a cover originally done by long defunct firebrand Seattle rock band, The Lemons, found the band back in the studio: Fort Collins, CO’s, The Blasting Room, with Descendents drummer and Rise Against producer, Bill Stevenson. “That was really cool and fun as well,” says the bassist. “But it was also very demanding and intense to work with Bill. He pushed you hard to not screw up.”
Delicious Rock Noise is testament to rock’s ability to shatter preconceptions –specifically, those based around RADKEY’s age, hometown and race. “Surprisingly, the racial thing has never been a factor for us,” says Dee. “Honestly, it’s never about that. Mostly, we get given a hard time about our age, but that’s also something we can’t really change. We might walk into a venue and feel like people are a little bit taken by surprise when they see us, but, usually, after we play, all that kind of stuff kind of goes away. We get a lot of questions about being brothers: like, do we argue? But the answer is no, we don’t really argue very much. And yes, we all write the songs together. Everybody writes. So, none of it is anything we spend that much time thinking or talking about.”
“Our only ambitions have ever really been to make a record that people will love and to be able to play as many shows as we can,” sums up Isaiah. “It’s also a personal journey. We’ve been living this for years now. This is literally all that we do and this record is evidence of that. I stop and think, man, I’m 21 years old and I’ve been doing this since I was basically 14. We’re still making the same kind of music we were when we started, but we’re better at it now. Thankfully, we’ve been able to go out into the world and experience some real things, which give us more to write about. We just want people to listen. And play it really loud.”
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