Interview: Radkey [August 2015]

By Dave Bull

Comprising three brothers from St Joseph, USA, Radkey were home schooled and cultivated on their Dad’s rock records. Now they are causing quite a stir, having been compared to The Ramones and The Misfits. Not much to live up to then! Before gearing up to take over the UK at several dates in September, bassist and vocalist Isaiah took some time out to answer some of our questions. 

For people that don’t know Radkey, how would you describe your sound?

We are a heavy Rock band, but we like to keep it catchy. It’s really important to mix that. You want people to remember it. We’re heavy, catchy and it’s mixed in a way that’s weird and interesting.

What can people expect from your upcoming UK tour?

Expect a bigger Radkey show than you’ve had before. We have more songs, and it’s more diverse now with more elements apart from just straight up rock and roll. There will be heavier stuff, a more mature and better crafted show than last time.

You are 18, 20 and 22 and hearing comparisons to The Ramones must be awesome, but how do you ensure you keep your feet on the ground?

It’s really amazing to hear those kinds of things. Basically, The Ramones are the most bad ass band ever, it is so cool and feels amazing, but we’re not them because they’re so cool, so that keeps you grounded!

In a recent interview, you said you hope you don’t become a hipster band. In your upcoming tour, you’re playing The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch which is probably the hipster capital of London. How will you repel the hipsters?

(laughs) Oh man, I don’t know. We are going to have to start talking about mainstream music and separate the real music fans from the hipster fans, that’s how to do it!

‘Romance Dawn’ from your new album is named after a Manga series. Can you tell me about this and how does the bands love for Manga influence the music that you make?

It’s a pretty amazing adventure. A guy is about to be executed publicly and his brother is trying to rescue him. It’s pretty intense. The song is about him running to try and save him. It doesn’t work, so it’s pretty depressing!

Apart from Manga, what do you guys do in your spare time?

We play video games and watch a bunch of movies. Just normal stuff.

You share a room with your brothers, what’s the most annoying things your brother’s do?

(laughs). Oh man, I don’t know, maybe like leaving a light on. It’s usually pretty OK, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it. Maybe if someone turns the air conditioner down!

You’ve recently moved to the big city. What is this like?

It’s amazing. We’ve been in St. Jo our whole lives so it’s pretty strange to move out and be in a new place, but it feels really good.

Your Dad is your manager, how does the Dad/Manager, Radkey family dynamic work?

It’s pretty cool. Back in the day, Dad would book a load of our shows, drive us around and do all the business stuff, so we could focus on writing. He travels with us when we play overseas which is really cool. It keeps the family together. We all hang out and do productive things.

Who are Radkey’s inspirations musically?

Easily bands like Nirvana and Weezer, Foo Fighters and The Pixies. Stuff like that, The Who, Led Zeppelin.

What are your fondest musical memories?

My first memory was the Foo Fighters which was really cool, years ago, back in the day. Our Dad used to play a load of stuff and we took it from there really.

What’s your visions of the future for Radkey?

We would love to just keep playing shows and putting out records. Living the dream!

‘Evil Doer’ and ‘Love Spills’ are about evil villains. Who are you favourite evil villains and why?

I’ve got to give one to Mr Freeze. He is trying to save his wife. That is why he is doing his thing. I’d give one to Apocalypse, he’s another one who isn’t just a straight up villain. He thinks he is doing good.

You are big Stanley Kubrick fans. What is your favourite movie?

I would say Clockwork Orange. It’s a pretty disturbing movie. It’s a lot of people’s favourite because there’s this vibe to it that inspires people in a totally different way, for reasons that are pretty unexplainable sometimes.

Can you explain to people who aren’t from the States, what St. Joseph is like, and your memories from growing up there?

It was pretty boring. There is nothing really to do, especially if you are younger. All the clubs are 21 and up, so there wasn’t a whole lot to do. We had to branch out, and go to places to play music. Mostly, we just hung out at home.

How was being home-schooled?

It really helped us stay together and be close as brothers. When you go to school, you have your different age groups, and different classes with different people. It really separates you from your family. Keeping us close was a really big element that helped the band be what it is.

You and your brothers are self-confessed introverts. Have you noticed any changes since you have become more of a ‘big deal’?

Yeah man, being in a band and playing around has definitely made us more outgoing. You have to learn how to talk to people and do everything correctly after a bunch of gos.

Radkey will be in the UK soon. Do you know who you’re taking on your tour with you?

Not yet, we are just sorting this out. But it’s pretty exciting and we can’t wait.

If you could play with anyone, who would it be?

Probably The Foo Fighters or Queens Of The Stone Age. They would be the dreams, Weezer too.

What was your experience of playing at Download Festival in 2013 like?

It was so cool. It was our first UK show, so that was pretty intense. We just went for the day, as we had press to do for Radkey and other stuff.

How do Radkey write music?

We all contribute equally in a load of different ways. This album came from just jamming, recording a bunch of gibberish and then I’d listen to it and write a bunch of lyrics. It’s all like this, I have a riff, or Dee has a melody idea and we just jam it together, you know?

How was the recording process for your album ‘Dark Black Makeup’?

We did it in Sheffield (UK) with Joss Orton. It was really cool to work with someone who you jell with so quickly and so well. Every day was so fun. We went to a pub every night and ordered a load of pork scratchings! It was really cool.

Radkey’s debut album, ‘Dark Black Makeup’ is available now, both digitally and physically.

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Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]