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Radkey's rapid ascent to success





Radkey's rapid ascent to success

 
A little over three years ago, Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon Radke were regular teenage brothers from St. Joseph who indulged in video games, movies, comics—stuff that most teenage boys enjoy.
 
Fast-forward to the not-so-distant future. Radkey has amassed a giant resume, from playing its first live show with Fishbone to recording “Cat and Mouse” (also the title of its debut album) at Adrian Grenier’s Wreckroom in Brooklyn to rocking the Download Fest in England earlier this year to recently completing its first full-scale tour to releasing its second EP Devil Fruit on Little Man Records AND undertaking a European tour this October. And… they still enjoy the same things as before.
 
“Quite a bit has changed,” said bassist Isaiah Radke, “but we’re still just a bunch of dorks hanging out at home whenever we’re not off doing the music thing.”
 
Modest, considering their rise from the St. Joe-KC music scene to international heights. But having had several off-the-record conversations with all three of the guys and their father/manager Matt Radke, a large key to their success has been in their ability to continue to hone their craft, remain humble, and stay involved in local music. Though Radkey has enjoyed accolades around the country and across the pond, it hasn’t been uncommon to see them on a KC or Lawrence stage with other local acts.
 
They kicked off their very first US tour to a full house at Czar with Naam last month, and played the KC Live stage with Silversun Pickups a couple weeks before that. A couple weeks ago they played Riot Fest in Chicago. This weekend, they’ll be one of the main acts at Beach Ball, alongside Cage The Elephant, AWOLNATION, Alt-J, and more. Despite all the huge bills they’ve already played on, the boys had never done a real tour before. So, why not?
 
Isaiah explains. “You can practice every single day—which we have done—and get pretty good, but you can only get so good. Playing lots of shows makes you a better musician and it also improves your live show. We finally hit the wall where touring is the only way to become better musicians, so we finally had the opportunity to break that wall by playing live every day.”
 
Since my first observation of a Radkey live show a couple of years ago, their onstage confidence has steadily grown with their musical cohesiveness and audience interactions, both crucial for success. That’s not to say they were lackluster in either department before, but at each performance, Dee’s monstrous voice becomes a bit more menacing and intimidating (in a good way); Isaiah’s banter with the crowd becomes a bit more sophisticated; Solomon’s drum patterns become a bit more complicated and precise.
 
“Because they are so young they will inevitably evolve and change, but there is something magical about the raw energy and earnestness of who they are right now,” said Joel Nanos, owner of Element Recording Studios.
 
Nanos also recorded tracks off Devil Fruit—the first single “Romance Dawn” was released in August, and “Overwhelmed” was released last week on NME. He calls the tracks fast, raw, and real. The brothers announce themselves to the world with a youthful immediacy backed by production that captures them at their purest and most formidable. Already, the songs are receiving a notable amount of attention on reputable music sources, and the album hasn’t even dropped yet.
 
But all for good reason. In spite of their quick strides from being three homeschooled kids to self-taught musicians with a steady local following to a buzz band getting radio play on the other side of the globe, the Radke brothers haven’t taken any of this for granted.
 
“I dunno; I mean, we practiced every day, and did our best to write songs that we loved. Plus, our dad was a great manager so that helped,” said Isaiah. “We pretty much worked very hard and had some percentage of luck on our side. We’re pretty thankful for that.”
 
They’ve also maintained support from the local music community, many of whom recognize their dedication to creating music and spreading the kick-in-your-teeth gospel of rock ‘n roll. Nanos sums it up best: “Those kids are just super cool, definitely beyond their years in maturity and knowledge; they have a great sense of self-awareness. They are the ones teaching me about cool stuff.”
 

You only have one more chance to see Radkey before they head out on their month-long European tour; they’ll be on the main stage at Beach Ball this Friday, September 27 at Berkley Riverfront Park. They’ll be touring the UK with Drenge, plus Germany and Holland, and return to the US in November to tour with Black Joe Lewis. Devil Fruit will be released October 15. And here's a link to the NME exclusive of their super-cool video for "Romance Dawn."

 

--Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. She once gave Isaiah a button from her old band and he might still wear it. She will eventually be one of those people who says, "I knew them way back when... AND gave one of them a shiny button."

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