First play of the sophomore Radio Alcatraz full-length

By Ben Tipple

‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’, the second full-length by London based post-hardcore quartet Radio Alcatraz, presents a bold re-imagination of the genre. Retaining the combination of clean vocals and cracked screams, now synonymous with the musical style, Radio Alcatraz simultaneously look back to move forward. The record is filled with unmistakable and welcome references to post-hardcore stalwarts of the past – not least the likes of At The Drive-In, Refused or early Hell Is For Heroes.

“It would be amazing if, off the back of hearing us, people revisit bands from the past they might have otherwise not listened to, some great post hardcore bands that we hold dear,” drumming powerhouse Dan Wheeldon states of the record, clearly aware of the prominent influences. For Wheeldon, the creative process is all about adapting good practice – building upon the work started by others, on top of a whole bunch of collaboration.

‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’ has been produced by Chris Coulter – a producer who has worked on a wealth of underground British music including Arcane Roots and Emp!re – and mixed by Pelle Henricsson, noted for his work alongside Poison The Well and the aforementioned Refused. The result echoes with both British sensibilities, guided by the politically and socially charged lyrical content, and compositions that sit comfortably in the stereotypically European pool.

“The record represents a huge achievement for us personally,” Wheeldon goes on to explain. “Doing one record was a challenge, so to make a second is something we are very proud of. Musically, it represents our take on the sort of post hardcore and rock music we grew up with and still love. Lyrically, we express some of our views on various topics but hopefully won’t come across as preaching or anything like that. Just some ideas and views we hold, but not a political manifesto.”

In amongst all this, Radio Alcatraz have kept their DIY ethic at the forefront. ‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’ has been created entirely off the band’s back, seeing release through their own label with support by DIY aficionados Banquet Records. Wheeldon explains that the record is the result of four friends making music together, a vibe they band are keen to retain.

“We feel that remaining as DIY as possible is the best way to retain control of our output, both musically and how we represent ourselves,” Wheeldon says of their ethos. “Having all played in bands for many years with varying degrees of success, Radio Alcatraz was all about making music purely for the love of doing it. By relying purely on ourselves wherever possible, we can dictate our own agenda. We have no issues with any other band following any path they choose but for us, to this point at least, it was the best option. Total freedom, for better or worse, with our musical choices. If people aren’t into what we sound like or our content we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Nobody chopping parts, guiding styles or editing ideas. And that is absolutely fine with us.”

It’s an ethos that has attracted attention by their influences. ‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’ sees the band joined by Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats, Justin Sane of Anti-Flag, Justin Schlosberg of Hell Is For Heroes and Jamie Lenman. It’s an impressive supporting roster for a band that still keep their full-time jobs. “Collaboration keeps things fresh and interesting in our opinion,” Wheeldon discloses. “We had a few guys in mind when we were writing and thankfully they all said yes. We basically just saw an opportunity to record some songs with some of our influences and musical heroes. I would think the fact we approached them primarily from a DIY angle helped to make it all happen as all of them come from the same background and were on board with what we were doing. This is not a profit making exercise, just some friends making some music in the best way they can.”

Released on the 8th December via Radio Alcatraz Music with special license to Banquet Records, ‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’ sees the band step intently forward following their 2012 debut. As Wheeldon concedes, the sophomore release brings with it added pressure, not least to ensure the guests are happy with the result of their collaboration. Yet, with high praise afforded to Banquet Records for their continued support, Radio Alcatraz are evidently excited about the release.

“We hope people enjoy the songs first and foremost. Maybe check out the first album, maybe come see us live. We always said it’s a huge compliment if someone heard us and liked it enough to tell a friend,” Wheeldon concludes. “The best case scenario is people like it enough to warrant us making another one. Although to be honest, we probably will either way. What else are we going to do?!”

Exclusively stream ‘It’s All Coming Up Roses’ in full below. Pre-order the record via Banquet Records.

For more on Radio Alcatraz check out their official Facebook page.