Interview: Upbringing: Radkey

Upbringing: Radkey

The band’s Isaiah Radke talks us through the siblings’ musical obsessions growing up.

Sibling trio Radkey recently put out their debut album ‘Dark Black Makeup,’ and it’s “as sure-footed and solid an effort as any young band could wish for,” according to our DIY review. Come October, they kick off a full UK tour. Growing up together in St. Joseph, Missouri, the brothers Radke got into music through a smoothie-mush including 90s grunge, Lord of the Rings, and Jack Black. Before heading off on the road, Radkey bassist Isaiah Radke talks DIY through the band’s melodic upbringing; visiting everything from Pearl Jam, to accidental instrument orders along the way.

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What was the first gig you ever went to?

It was The Sword! And a really cool band called Year Long Disaster. We saw them at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas, in like 2007. It was a pretty insane show. We felt so cool to be in there that night. Legendary.

Were there a good supply of venues to go to in your hometown?

Not really. Especially if you were underage. No one really brought very many touring acts in, so there wasn’t a terrible amount of things to see.

Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?

Probably ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. We’re pretty huge Nirvana fans. Can you tell? It’s pretty much the perfect song. It’s every single thing that you ask for. Weird lyrics, catchy as fuck. You’ve got that loud quiet loud thing going on. It’s amazing. Gotta love it.

What’s the story behind you getting your first instruments?

Dad brought back the movie School of Rock, and after we watched that, it was kinda on. He introduced us to tons more of the music that we dug from that movie, and then we decided to order an Epiphone SG off of this site. We cancelled that order and then ordered this Ernie Ball guitar…they sent us both, and that was a sign that one of us had to learn the guitar for real. After Dee and I tried for a while, I quit and he kept going. Sol and I came in years later on bass and drums as soon as Radkey started. And after thousands of 15 minute practice spurts, here we are.

What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?

We bought Pearl Jam ‘Vitalogy’. ‘Spin the Black Circle’!

What’s your worst musical habit?

Probably something like not buying enough vinyl every week or something like that. There’s nothing really serious that I can think of.

What kind of inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?

Definitely things like movies, anime, comic books and things like that. That’s one of the best parts about songwriting. All kinds of other things can come into play and that’s pretty cool. Like Led Zeppelin for instance, they wrote songs about The Lord of The Rings - I wish that we could have secretly been there when they were geeking out (tripping out) and writing ‘Misty Mountain Hop’.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a band?

To practice for at least 15 minutes every single day. No one says that you need to put tons of hours in to practice all at once. Honestly, just do at least 15 minutes a day. Everyone has 15 minutes. You should want to do it anyways. You’d be surprised at the improvement that you’ll see.

Radkey’s debut album ‘Dark Black Makeup’ is out now via Little Man Records.