Vocalist and lead guitarist Dee Radke, bassist and vocalist Isaiah Radke, and drummer Solomon Radke form the punk rock trio Radkey. The three brothers from Missouri started their career opening for the legendary Fishbone and from that moment on it was all hard work. Last month the fruits of that hard work were display with the release of their debut album, Dark Black Makeup. We spoke out with Isaiah to know a little bit more about the new and exciting rock’n’roll band in town.
How was it growing up in St. Joseph, Missouri? I know that you guys were homeschooled.
It was kind of boring. There was not a whole lot to do. You couldn’t really play venues at a young age so we kind of had to branch out and start playing in Kansas City, Washington, etc. There’s wasn’t nothing really big there so it was nice to get out.
I read that you wanted to be a divorce lawyer when you were a kid. Is that true? Man, that’s an unusual one.
Yeah, it is true. I thought it would be something that I would be really good at, I don’t know. Arguing is kind of a strong suit of mine.
Was it rough to play in a rock band in St. Joseph?
It definitely was just because there’s not a whole lot of support there. Just being a young band trying to get out and play shows, it was possibly the worst possible place to grow up. Branch out to places like Kansas City and Washington was really great otherwise our band would never been able to get legs and live, especially when your hometown is trying to kill you before you can even be born.
Did you guys really played your first show opening for Fishbone? How old were you guys at that time?
Yeah, we did. A band dropped out of the bill and our dad, who is our manager, just basically submitted us for it and they just put us on the show without asking if we ever played a show before. They just asked if we could play for thirty minutes to which we said “Yes!”… but that wasn’t even true. [laughs] So, we just wrote enough songs to be able to play that show. I think that playing that show really helped keep the moral up for the future. Being able to play such a cool show the first time you play live in front of an audience is luck and something that definitely can motivate you. I have to be honest, it was really scary. It was a lot of pressure to play our first show opening for such a legendary band like Fishbone. Once you’re on stage you don’t really think about it. It was a really cool experience.
A couple of years ago you released a track entitled “N.I.G.G.A. (Not Okay)”. I’m curious to know what made you want to talk about such subject. I mean, we’re living in a society that is using that word on a regular basis.
It’s just one of those things that… We knew this kid that went to a predominantly white school and we saw, in social media, that he was letting them all call him that. It was really degrading, sad, and pathetic to look at. So, we had to write a song about it. At least let some people know that there are some people who don’t think is cool and maybe you should watch what you say around some people. It’s just a fuckin’ horrible word, you know? There’s no way you can turn it around and make it cool.
“It seems that a lot of young people just want to hang out and have a good time and just really worried about how they look, what people think of them, etc…”
This debut album is coming out five years after the band was formed. Was it an intentional move on your part?
Yeah, we felt very strongly about not putting an album before we were actually ready. We wanted the album to be really good. We wanted to resemble everything that we are into, and some of those things we couldn’t really create back in the day. It was all this kind of straight, fast stuff, and now we have the songs to really put out a record. The other songs, they are like EP songs. It’s cool, it’s fast, but we really wanted to make a point with the album and it took a while but I think it was really worth it.
What did you want to convey with the title “Dark Black Makeup”?
It’s kind of like just about the youth these days. They seem like they just don’t care, like they are just mad at something… I don’t know. It seems that a lot of young people just want to hang out and have a good time and just really worried about how they look,what people think of them, etc. Life is short and you should have a good time while you have the chance. That song is us trying to tell some people, “Wake the fuck up and turn your life before it’s too late.”
How much time did it take you to write the entire album?
It took a long time. We recorded the album in like two different sessions. We recorded like four songsand a month or something later we went to record the rest. So, it took definitely a long time to write but the recording wasn’t too bad.
I know that the album was partially recorded in the UK. How was that like, to be far away from home recording your debut album?
It was pretty cool. We recorded at McCall Sound Studios in Sheffield and it was a really amazing experience. We never spent so much time just hanging out and recording. It was really cool, especially being so far away from home because then it seems like you’re in a different world doing it. I think it really helped the sound and you can really hear the Sheffield vibe in there.
What about working with the legendary Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, The Fall, Jarvis Cocker)?
That was amazing. He’s really, really good at everything. When it comes to tones, the way the song is supposed to sound, etc. He really has a way of like making your songs sound 100%, the way it is supposed to sound no matter what your band’s sound is. He doesn’t try to put his own signature thing on it and so you always end up sounding like yourself. A really good version of your band.
Your father is also the band’s manager. I’m curious to know what that’s like. It’s not as usual as it used to be.
It is really cool. You don’t have to deal with any strangers, everyone knows each other. It’s all worked out really well. Having our dad as our manager just makes everything much easier.