So you think teen music is all the same? All this new bubblegum pop that’s put out by the likes of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and a myriad of others tends to make one lose faith in the younger generation’s ability to make good, honest music. Well, if you’re a rocker your faith is about to be restored by Radkey.
Here’s the kicker about this band of rock n roll teens. All three members are young black teens from St. Joseph, Missouri. Now I know you think you know what the kicker is in that last sentence right? Wrong! There have been plenty of black rockers and punk rockers. No, the kicker for this band is their age and influences. 19 year old Dee (vocals, guitar), 17 year old Isaiah (bass, backing vocals) and 15 year old Solomon (drums) play in your face rock/punk rock more fitting to the late 30’s/ early 40’s crowd. So, how and why is it that these youngsters are not just another cookie cutter pop band? They are good looking kids (check out Isaiah’s Lando moustache!),
polite and obviously talented, plus they fit the age demographic, and could probably be a success cranking out all that pop crap.
The how and why of who and what they are rests squarely on their father’s shoulders who is a 40’s something rocker himself. The Radkey boys are all home schooled which more than likely explains the lack of sheep like mentality that most other junior high and high school kids succumb to when it comes to popular music. That’s one plus. The other plus is their father, Matt Radkey, opened up his record collection to the three brothers as they were (or are) growing up, setting a solid foundation of rock n roll for them to build upon. With their fathers rock albums rolling around in their heads and a lack of current, outside music influences, the boys took what they learned and ran with it.
Radkey was in Federal Heights Oct. 27th at a little place Juggz. When I say little, I really do mean tiny. I was turned onto Radkey by local promotion company Wolfpack Productions. The first song I ever heard from Radkey was an original of theirs called “Cat and Mouse” and I was immediately blown away by the dynamics of the band and Dee’s deep, Glenn Danzig meets Joey Ramone style voice. But that initial listen didn’t even come close to preparing me for what they sounded like live.
In a nut shell these guys play stripped down, gutsy rock with more than just a splash of punk rock thrown in. Even though they play punk rock at its most basic, honest form it doesn’t mean these guys don’t have chops, because they do. Isaiah plays his bass like he has been schooled on it all his life and chances are he probably has spent a good portion of his young life slamming away on the bass. Isaiah is not one to hammer on one note, instead opting to walk up and down that fret board adding flavor and a fullness to the songs. Just because their originals lean toward the earlier days of punk: ala Misfits, Ramones, etc. doesn’t mean that Isaiah can sit back and play the same three notes over and over. Quite the contrary……since they are only a three piece it takes a lot more skill to make the songs sound full, especially when Dee goes into a solo.
You might be saying to yourself, “Wait, did I just read that right? Old school punk that has guitar solos?” Yeah, you read it right. The guitar solos that Dee throws down are not the sloppy, fumbling finger solos you might be used to when it comes to older punk rock tunes, instead his solos are crisp and clear, tasteful and melodic, and when it comes right down to it the guy has serious skills. The only thing that outshines his fantastic guitar playing is his voice.
Dee’s boyish, youthful looks and his dreads belie what you think his voice would sound like. His voice has a rich, deep and melodic timbre that is powerful and unforgiving, yet smooth and almost crooning at the same time. The night Radkey played in Colorado they whipped out a handful of Ramones tunes and nailed them. Not only did they nail the Ramones covers musically, but Dee can sound eerily like Joey Ramone.
The third and probably most overlooked (as drummers so often are) member of this band is Solomon. At only 15 years old he is the youngest brother and has the biggest responsibility on stage. He has to keep the timing consistent and he works his drum set like he’s been playing it longer than he’s been alive, and that’s saying something. Solomon is not flashy on the drums; he doesn’t pull off any tricks, or try to showboat. He just plays his heart out, concentrating on the song at hand, playing for all he’s worth. Radkey’s music is hard, driving, and for the most part up tempo and I get the feeling that Solomon’s arms must feel like Jell-O by the end of the set, but he keeps slamming out the beats with a grim determination that contradicts his young age and even younger looks.
Together these three brothers tossed out a set of awesome punk rock originals and Ramones covers that absolutely astounded me, and whether you like punk rock or not you have to give it up for these kids and take them seriously. They have the chops and the writing skills to go far, and I for one hope they will take it as far as they can. I also hope to hear “Cat and Mouse” on rock radio sometime in the near future because that is one catchy, bad ass tune and I think you will agree once you give it a listen.
Radkey is gaining in popularity, getting invites to music festivals and even opening for Fishbone in the recent past. I don’t think it will be long before they gain a massive, loyal following and when that happens we will see them playing bigger and better shows. So if you get the chance to see this band of brothers in a smaller, more intimate setting don’t miss out. They don’t have the sheep mentality and neither should you. Take a chance and go see these guys so you can say, “I saw them when….”, before it’s too late.
Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon……Way to go guys! See you when you come back through Colorado so I can listen and rock out to some great punk rock, Radkey style!
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