Garage punk group Radkey were formed in 2010 by three home-schooled brothers from Missouri. The group have been touring and recording since their inception and previously went on tour with Rise Against. The brothers just played SXSW in Austin and will continue on to several different festivals throughout the summer. The string of shows comes after the group re-released their debut album Dark Black Makeup this past November with a new title: Delicious Rock Noise. Before heading down to Austin, the band’s bassist, Isaiah Radke, took the time to outline the reasons for the re-issue, their musical inspirations and their plans for the future.
mxdwn: What inspired the re-issue of Dark Black Makeup as Delicious Rock Noise?
Isaiah Radke: Well, when we were on our old label it didn’t really get put super out there; and we worked really hard on it so after our contract ended we signed to Another Century. Part of the thing was we could just re-release that record and actually put it out there so we wouldn’t release a second album. We felt like there was still a lot of life in there (Dark Black Makeup) so we wanted to still get it out there.
mxdwn: Do you guys have a favorite song to play off of the album?
I: We all really love playing “Dark Black Makeup,” but “Love Spills” and “Romance Dawn” are also really fun.
mxdwn: The re-issue has two bonus tracks, one being a cover of the Teen Titans theme song, why did you cover that? Are you all big fans?
I: We are really big fans and we’ve always been into that song. We wanted to write our own solo for it — just be able to rock it out. It kind of brings us back.
mxdwn: This year will be your third appearance at SXSW, what keeps you coming back?
I: Well, we took a bit of a break, but signing with this new label we figured we’d head over and play it again because it’s such a grind. It’s so much work. But we’re gonna visit it again with a lot of training now so we know what to expect. It’s always a really crazy vibe. It’s nice to get there after a while.
mxdwn: Are there any memories that stick out from your past two experiences at SXSW?
I: Yeah, our very first time, we played a show in front of nobody and that’s how we got to go to the UK and play and become a real band. So they were just weird shows. I think there were six people there, but they happened to be with a label in the UK so we got to go tour Europe and do all those kinds of things from that show that no one was really at. So it was really cool that that kind of thing still can happen these days.
mxdwn: In an interview I read you guys mentioned your dad’s music taste as a big influence on you, are there any bands you drew inspiration from specifically when working on Dark Black Makeup and Delicious Rock Noise?
I: Definitely bands like Weezer, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. Even weird shit like Duran Duran and a lot of ’80s stuff we were listening to. A lot of metal too: Metallica and Queens of the Stone Age, weird rock. But definitely Weezer, Nirvana. I would say those are pretty big ones for us.
mxdwn: I saw on Facebook you said Weezer is your favorite band.
I: There’s no other band we can really think of that has so many amazing songs and they are still putting out. There are bands that are doing it, but it’s like our taste in music. They just have been putting out amazing records for our whole lives basically. So it’s really consistent and that’s the kind of band we want to be — a band that writes awesome albums.
mxdwn: Is there an album or any songs of theirs that have influenced your writing and playing?
I: A lot of it: like Maladroit, everything off of that is the perfect mix of catchiness and heavy rock guitars, all that stuff, so that’s really good. And then there’s Pinkerton…each album is educational because it’s a totally different style. They’re all really catchy and perfect. Pinkerton’s the raw vibe and then Blue is the perfect production vibe. But Maladroit is the one we feel is underrated, it’s really crazy.
mxdwn: What’d you think of their White Album?
I: Oh man, we love it. We really love The White Album.
mxdwn: You guys have played several different festivals (SXSW, Coachella, AfroPunk, Leeds, Reading), do you have a favorite among any of them?
I: I would say it may be this festival called Best Kept Secret in — I think it was in — the Netherlands. That was a really good experience. I really enjoyed Pain in the Grass. That was really fun. But I think the greatest experience was Best Kept Secret because it was in the Netherlands so you could get stoned all of the time and that’s how the idea for the melody for Dark Black Makeup just popped into my head just from sitting in a chair backstage somewhere.
mxdwn: Is there a festival you haven’t played that you’d like to in the future?
I: Glastonbury or something like that, things like that. There are a couple that we haven’t hit. There are a few I can’t think of. There’s one in Chicago. Lollapalooza would be cool. Stuff like that. There’s a few I’m missing, but those are the top.
mxdwn: You’ve played with Fishbone and Rise Against, among others, are there any other groups you’d want to play with?
I: Queens of the Stone Age would be the dream. Weezer would be incredible. Let’s see, Rise Against we’d love to tour with again. That was a really fun tour. We learned so much on tour with them. Yeah, pretty much that.
mxdwn: Are there any cities in particular you like to play?
I: We really love Chicago. Colorado is really awesome. I mean there are not a lot of places that we don’t like to play. I think there was only one bad experience and I can’t even remember where it was. Oh man, Memphis was cool. We went there for the first time. I actually really enjoyed the South; I had never been there a whole lot. Georgia was awesome actually, I was surprised.
mxdwn: Is there a city with a crowd vibe that stands out from the others?
I: I would say Chicago just because we played a show at the Double Door and there aren’t many other cities in America right now that are as crazy as Chicago. KC is cool, LA is awesome, New York is cool,but we’re Midwestern anyway so doing good in Chicago is an honor.
mxdwn: Besides the shows, do you have anything else in store for 2017?
I: Well, we’ll be writing the rest of our new album the whole time just because being signed makes us able to actually make a new record now. A lot of our fans are like, “make a new album,” but you gotta have money to do that, man. We’re actually really lucky to be able to do this and now be able to make a record. It’s really awesome and we’re really into the stuff we’re coming up with. We’re really glad people are digging the record and actually hearing it.
mxdwn: Do you have a release date in mind for the record or just kind of seeing how things go?
I: Pretty much just going with it now, but it’s about half-written so we’re getting ready to go to the studio sometime whenever that’s going to make sense. And, yeah, we’re really excited. It’s nice to have everything going the way we need it to right now.
mxdwn: I know it’s still in the works, but how will this new album compare to Delicious Rock Noise?
I: The best thing I could say is it’s less groovy and heavy, but it’ll still rock hard and be catchy. It’ll have the same Radkey vibes but a little less of the stoner-y heavy metal stuff. You know how “Love Spills” is really groovy? It’ll be more straightforward this time.
mxdwn: And you’re still pulling from the same bands for inspiration?
I: Oh yeah, we have this playlist called “Green Machine” and it has pretty much every bit of music we listen to and we listen to it constantly so all of our awesome influences that we’re into, they’re just constantly in your head. So that combined with your own style of writing music, you’ll just come up with catchier music, if you’re just listening to awesome music constantly — so pretty much same influences. Our buddy Will from this band in the UK got us into true stoner metal like Sleep and stuff like that so we really geeked out on it and got it into our music. It’s kind of punk rock with a regular style in it and we thought it worked, so a little less of that. We thought that was kind of a theme of the record and we don’t wanna repeat ourselves.