Music, OldVenue

Interview – Radkey

It’s early evening when Isaiah Radke’s mid-west drawl slips and slides its way onto the airwaves. Calling from a dingy dressing room at Glasgow’s famous King Tuts venue, the middle brother and bassist of Missouri punk-rock trio, Radkey, is busy preparing for the band’s headline set in the evening.

radkey afropunk

The brothers-in-arms have journeyed through the night from Leeds, where they performed to several thousand drunken Loiners at the intimate Cockpit theatre, and have been impressed by the enthusiasm they’ve been met with on stage. Isaiah comments gleefully, “they moved around a lot, they were pretty loud it was awesome.” This is a recurring theme on their British tours it seems, with revellers from Ol’ Blighty far outscoring their Yank counterparts on the vitality front. “In America there are a lot more people who try to be cool and hang in the back, and I find that over here people are a lot more appreciative of guitar music and it’s something they love so they react to it better,” Isaiah confirms. Naming a 2013 show at Camden’s Black Heart as the best they’ve played, the British have a permanent place in this young musicians heart. That is, of course, “unless US crowds start losing their shit and having a good time, but for the moment I’d say British crowds are better as a whole on this tour at least.” Score one for the archetypal, British fourteen-year old lout, screaming his nut off in skinny jeans and a ripped Pete Doherty t-shirt, scrounging around with his mates for the last can of red stripe bought off big brother at three times the normal price the night before.

Radkey have come a long way from a youth spent in St Joseph, Missouri ,“just playing video games and watching movies pretty much all the time”. Now known in the UK as one of the leading new acts on the guitar music scene, Radkey had a rather unconventional start to life as musicians. “We were home-schooled and our dad had a really cool collection of music, so we had that to go by, and we just listened to a lot of that and that became the music we do today. He had stuff like Nirvana, the Ramones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, a lot of cool classic stuff.” Eldest brother Dee Dee was the first to pick up a six-string, filling in for a cover band when he was in his early teens called ‘Midlife Crisis’. The band played “lame ‘Mustang Sally’ and shit like that”, but it soon became the impetus to form a band the brothers needed. “Afterwards, he was like let’s start a band. So I started playing the bass and Solomon learnt the drums, and it all rolled on from there.”

Starting out in a city like St Joseph wasn’t easy however, “there’s not really an existing scene for music in St Joseph, a lot of people won’t like me for saying that but it’s true.” Luckily there was a friendlier, more exciting city just up the road according to Isaiah, “Kansas City took us in a lot earlier than our own town actually did, which was really great.”

Since their early days, Radkey have toured both the UK and the US incessantly, releasing their debut EP, Cat and Mouse, in June last year. Phenomenally successful, the record catapulted the band into NME induced stardom. Isaiah had mixed feelings about the recordings however, “as a band I don’t know if we’re ever going to be truly happy with a recording, but I think it turned out pretty cool in the end. We’re always pretty hard on ourselves when it comes to performances and how things are recorded, but everyone else seems to dig it, so I dig it too!”

As for a first attempt at a full length record, Isaiah reveals “we’re currently writing it, and we’ve actually been playing a song or two from it on this tour so that’s been exciting. It should be out some time in the fall.” Genre-wise, the music comes from the same angst-driven place as Cat and Mouse, “I’d like to think it’s a mix between the EP and some new stuff as well, lots of new vibes definitely.”

Perhaps the essence of Radkey as a musical force is distilled perfectly in Isaiah’s final typically elongated response: “People reflect off you on stage at a gig, so we usually just try to put out a lot of energy and have the best time possible, so hopefully everyone else does as well.” Radkey aren’t all about brilliantly rehearsed and outrageously technical music, they play short and loud punk songs at a million miles an hour for one reason and one reason only, to have a good rock ‘n’ roll time.


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