Gang of Three

New York trio plays minimalist punk with a British bite

"That song says, 'We're bored with blatantly being lied to.' Politicians talk on TV and people get wrapped up in it. So you've got to make sure you're completely bored by their lying to you," rants Roman. "I always think of Clinton with his hand gestures and people saying, 'Oh, he means it.' He's a good public speaker, he's got his gestures down, and now Gore's doing them, too."

Another significant election taking shape this November, and one that will likely affect Radio 4 much more directly, is the tightly contested New York senatorial race between First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Rick Lazio. No longer in the running is Hizzoner, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who incurred the wrath of the group by shutting down a number of NYC clubs it called home. Already gone are such great Manhattan venues as Tramps and Coney Island High, where Radio 4 debuted last spring, opening for Valley residents Jimmy Eat World.

"Giuliani has a different vision of what New York should be like," says Roman, laughing, and recounts how the mayor turned the Times Square of Taxi Driver into an "I Love New York" Disneyland, making the streets safe from soft-pretzel vendors. "I always wonder what happened to all the drug dealers he ran out of Times Square when he pushed them out."

Radio 4: From Left, Greg Collins, Anthony Roman and 
Tommy Williams.
Chris Cassidy
Radio 4: From Left, Greg Collins, Anthony Roman and Tommy Williams.

It seems few bands can afford to live in Manhattan these days, or record there, for that matter; the tracks for The New Song and Dancewere laid down in a Brooklyn studio. Save for the occasional double-tracked vocal and the presence of a swirling organ on "Boy Meets Girl" -- the catchiest in a crop of catchy songs -- the album is an economical, live-in-the-studio affair. But how long can the band resist the temptation to flesh out its raw sound with superfluous horns and strings?

"We have to see where the next album is going to take us," says Roman. "There's certainly plenty of room to add different things -- keyboards, percussion, whatever."

Or perhaps the group will confound everyone anticipating that it'll follow the career blueprint of Gang of Four and the Clash by getting into rap and synths. How? By becoming even more minimal, kicking out the drummer and turning into acoustic aggit-rockers, à la Billy Bragg.

Whatever the future holds, it's still early in the game for the members of Radio 4, even though by music industry standards the mid-to-late twentysomethings are veterans -- or are they?

"I was reading an article in TV Guide about the boy bands, and I was looking at their ages," says Roman. "Those guys are like, 27 and 28! How can you be 28 and be all excited about being in 98 Degrees?

"If they're hitting on Britney Spears, that's baaad. I mean, they're the same age Chuck Berry was when he was too old to be messing with 'Sweet Little Sixteen.'"

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