It’s not every day that an up-and-coming, middle-America punk/hard rock band gets noticed by the likes of Dave Grohl.
The Foo Fighters guitarist was turned on to Radkey by L7 bassist Jennifer Finch; he eventually included the trio in his 2021 music documentary, What Drives Us, and asked the band to open for the Foo Fighters for several shows this summer.
Not bad for three brothers from Missouri.
Radkey, who are opening for Local H at Valley Bar on Tuesday, September 28, is composed of singer-guitarist Dee Radke 28, and his brothers, bass player Isaiah, 26, and drummer Solomon, 24.
The brothers were raised in Saint Joseph, Missouri, on the music collection of their dad (and manager), Matt: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, Nirvana, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Weezer, and the like. They officially formed a band in 2010, and played their first show — opening for Fishbone at a show in Kansas — in 2011.
After two critically-acclaimed EPs — 2012’s Cat & Mouse with Adrian Grenier’s Wreckroom Records and 2013's Devil Fruit on their own Little Man Records — their debut album, Delicious Rock Noise, came in 2016. Led by the anchor single “Dark Black Makeup,” their hard rock sound came with an unusual tightly produced restraint.
Their sound brings to mind the likes of the Misfits, Weezer, Danzig, and the Offspring — even a touch of Agent Orange's tight, hard rock riffs.
Radkey's second LP, Green Room, dropped in November 2020. Financed via a Kickstarter campaign (the band raised $28,000 from almost 500 fans), Green Room saw the band stretch its wings to experiment with tempos and even record a decent Bill Withers cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine." The opener, “Seize,” picks up where Delicious Rock Noise ended. With its punk machine-gun riffs and now-standard baritone vocals from Dee, it's crisp and original.
Also during the pandemic, the band started a Patreon account. Radkey's Patreon has three levels ranging from $2 to $10 per month. Perks range from audio previews and behind-the-scenes content at the lower end to guitar lessons on how to play Radkey songs and access to play video games online with the band on the higher end.
Phoenix New Times caught up with middle brother Isaiah Radke during breaks in Radkey's tour to discuss the band's Patreon, their musical beginnings, and their opinion of Arizona.
Phoenix New Times: How did the tour go with the Foo Fighters?
Isaiah Radke: The shows with the Foo Fighters were amazing — everything we thought they would be. We're looking forward to having a great tour with Local H now. The highlight show was Albuquerque, where Dee played a song on stage with Foo Fighters.
What makes cross-country touring hold your interest after 10-plus years, or has it begun to wane?
There isn’t really another option if your job is to play live music touring.
Most band members fight on the road on long van trips. How do you handle that?
We don’t fight. We've been together our whole lives and we know each other so well. If there’s a disagreement, we just discuss it and make group decisions.
With all the success and exposure from hitting all the major festivals such as SXSW, Riot Fest, Afropunk, Lollapalooza, and the U.K.’s Download Festival, how do you not let success at an early age go to your head?
It’s our job and we want to do it to the best of our ability. Everything can be over tomorrow. We appreciate every experience and opportunity.
What was the defining moment when the three of you decided Dad’s music was freakin’ cool, and when did you each first pick up your instrument?
There was always music playing in our house. The movie School of Rock with Jack Black really planted the seed of starting a band. Dee started playing instruments on his own around 2005. When we finally decided to really start a band in 2009, Solomon and I picked our instruments and learned how to play them. We started doing shows in 2010.
How does your father, Matt, balance being both your dad and your manager?
There’s no line. We are who we are all the time.
As boring as Saint Joseph, Missouri, was, how did that experience shape you guys and band you have now?
Probably our time in Saint Joe made us even more grateful for the positive experiences that we had elsewhere. We live in Kansas City, Missouri. We moved in 2015 in a U-Haul. It was a positive move; we were ready for the change.
You released Green Room during the pandemic. How did you three deal with the pandemic, and did you write any songs for the next album during that hiatus?
We're always writing. The pandemic was definitely a learning opportunity, and we really made a strong pivot from our stage show to online existence. Hopefully, we can move forward combining the two.
Tell us a little about your Patreon.
We are very fortunate to have the support of our fans, and Patreon is a platform that allows us to have a closer relationship with some of those fans and share stuff we don’t really put out on the band socials.
Videos have become an intriguing part of the Radkey mix. “Feed My Brain” is damn amazing and entertaining. How did this Claymation concept come about and who put the storyline together? Was it born out of your comic book interests? Who created it with you?
The idea for that video basically came from the director, Chris Durr, and we dug his vision. Chris is from KC. He worked on one of our earlier videos.
You've come through Phoenix a number of times. What do you like and dislike about Arizona?
It’s cool to go through that part of the country. We're not super-big fans of the heat, but the scenery is beautiful.
Radkey. Opening for Local H. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 28. Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $22 plus fees. A vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test is required. Visit the event page here.