As RadioRadio emerged on the local scene in the summer of 2006, I had no reservations in proclaiming the band the one most suited to set itself apart from the pack and make an impact on radio and regional markets. The band's debut single, "Marathon," did receive a fair amount of local attention, and the band has gone on to tour regionally, often to a better response on the road than at home. But three years later, the big break to push the band over the top has yet to occur.
Even so, that initial proclamation is one I'll stand by. This is a group that always presented a complete package: great songwriting, top notch production, a tight live performance and packaging and presentation worthy of a major act.
Unfortunately, a number of factors have contributed to the band's lack of mainstream success, but it never lessened the band's resolve to continue to fight its way to the top.
The band's sophomore disc, an EP entitled Alarm 1 Alarm 2, was released in 2008 with a refined lineup, which included guitarist Jay Hunt and drummer Paul Sanders. Although it only contained four tunes, it both signaled the group's direction and cemented the songwriting roles of principal members Paul Cristiano and Greg Hosterman. Yes, the production was still top notch, but when stripped back slightly, it proved the band wasn't just a product of studio polish.
In the past year, the group has continued to tour regionally and put a renewed focus on winning over its hometown audience with more frequent local shows while slowly developing its chemistry and working on new material. The band also developed a relationship with Los Angeles based producer Beau Hill, who contacted the group following its 2008 SXSW appearance, culminating in a new remix of the band's single, "I, Computer."
In all honesty, while audience feedback indicated the song was a fan favorite from the Alarm 1 Alarm 2 disc, it was the one single on the disc that fell flat for me personally. The tune itself was interesting, but it just lacked something to make it truly connect -- something that even bassist Paul Cristiano acknowledged. The new treatment by Hill isn't a great departure from the original, but his remix provided the elusive spark that was previously missing and added an almost unexplainable new urgency and life to the song.
Apparently, it's something that Hill sensed as well because he took it upon himself to test market the single to a few key radio markets under an anonymous, "Band X", label and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. As such, RadioRadio is now armed with a newly remastered version of the single, which it hopes will push the group to the next level.
Throughout the past few months, however, studio remixes weren't the only thing changing in the RadioRadio camp. Even as the band has continued to perform, including a few key appearances at the BOK Center before the Journey and Paul McCartney shows, the band's lineup has rotated once again in an ironic twist of fate.
Guitarist Jay Hunt left the fold, and the group found his replacement in Ben Hosterman, who had previously worked with the band on an interim basis after the departure of Brad Mitcho and Urian Weaver. This time, however, the arrangement appears to be permanent as he has truly found a place and carved his own niche in the band.
Besides being a great guitarist who has always shown a gift for both writing big hooks and playing what and where it's appropriate, he also adds strong harmony vocals and an interesting chemistry within the band as brother to lead singer Greg Hosterman.
Cristiano admitted that when Ben was originally suggested after Jay Hunt's departure, he was initially hesitant. It only took a short while before he thought it through, however and told Greg, "We need to do this -- it makes total sense." At that point, Ben entered into the group without any fanfare or grand announcements, with a "let's see how it goes" approach and he settled in perfectly.
Perhaps more ironic and appropriate, however, is the return of drummer Scott Taylor.
According to Cristiano, he hadn't see or spoken to Taylor since Scott left the band in 2007, but received a call congratulating him when it was announced that RadioRadio got the pre-McCartney gig. The two followed up by going to lunch to catch up and after talking together, it was apparent that Taylor was ready to start playing again following the dissolution of The Plumbers. At that point, however, Paul Sanders was still in the band, although his schedule wasn't always meshing with the group's, and Taylor was used for a fill-in on a couple of occasions. Eventually, the switch was made and the current lineup finished with Cristiano admitting resolutely, "The truth is, Scott was born to play these songs."
Now, with a refreshed lineup and a remixed and remastered single in hand, it appears that RadioRadio is finally ready to take the next step. The band has developed a top end, deluxe press kit, which is being serviced to essential industry contacts, including 10-12 key Midwest radio markets, in hopes of providing appropriate exposure and breaking the band into those stations' playlists.
The band is also holding a strategic "I, Computer 2009" release party this Friday, Nov. 6 at The Marquee for its local fans. The single will be available, not only on CD, but also on flash drive and with two different mixes (one with a more Euro-mix intro and one as a "Stateside Mix", as indicated by Hill's initial radio feedback), along with a new video produced by Kelly Kerr, all of which is being presented in the press kit that is being sent out to each market. That same press kit will also be made available at the show as a "deluxe fan package" at the shows, including a band t-shirt.
For the moment, Cristiano admits, "We're hyper-focused on the song," preparing it to hopefully make a strong impact on Midwest radio. When combined with the current lineup, he said, "Right now, it feels like the chemistry is just right. I feel like we're really hitting our stride."
Check it out for yourself as the band celebrates the release of "I, Computer 2009" Friday night, Nov. 6. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 9pm. DJ Demko will get the evening started, followed by opening act Astellaway and a full set by RadioRadio. It's an all-ages show and admission is $7 at the door.
Connect the Dots
It's not often that I provide a post-show review, but for those of you who missed Brand New at Cain's Ballroom last week, you missed a stellar show.
Although the band has been around for almost a decade now, it's constantly evolving sound and shape-shifting has admittedly left me a little puzzled. That said, I was admittedly surprise when I arrived to find a sold-out show.
Once the band hit the stage, all was explained. Yes, it's still a cacophony and the band veers between styles, but the group truly earned all of the hype it is receiving. It's a phenomenal, high-energy live show that somehow makes a logical connection between emo, hardcore, pop-punk and even singer/songwriter material with the band's more ballad oriented material. The show connected the dots between each genre and even stepped back to connect it all to the early '90s with a few moments that even nodded to the energy and chemistry of Nirvana.
If you're not familiar with the group yet, go out of your way to investigate. I expect to hear much more from the band and see it exploding in the near future.
Halloween is past, and autumn is officially here - and although the temperatures are falling, the local clubs are starting to heat up again. As always, we've got your highlights, so take a peek to get you out the door and in the right direction.
Thursday night is always good for kicking off your weekend early, and this week is no exception. If you're into building your own traditions, then stop in at Arnie's for Cairde na Gael or Eclipse for Dustin and Jesse's Higher Education as each has a standing gig that you can count on. If you're looking for something a little more lively, however, you might want to head to the Cain's Ballroom to check out alt-punk icons The Meat Puppets with local acts Wighead and The pORTRAYL getting a break as opening acts.
Friday, Nov. 6 has a handful of cool shows going on, including the aforementioned RadioRadio release show. If you're willing to bounce around, though, you've got plenty of cool options. Finch and Bless the Fall will be rocking the walls at Flytrap Music Hall, while Wink Burcham lays down a more chill vibe at Arnie's. And if you're just looking for a good night of honky-tonk and rock, you can never go wrong with Brandon Clark Band at Mercury Lounge.
Saturday night is extremely busy with shows of all sizes and styles all around town. The highest profile acts are spread across downtown with Alan Jackson and opener Gloriana serving the country crowd at BOK Center and Rob Zombie throwing down the hard rock at Brady Theater with Necromantix and Cut Clegg and the Night Creatures. Harder to describe is Hank (Williams) III and Assjack at Cain's -- the show that might prove to be the most interesting of them all.
If you're looking for someone to chill out with, you'll do good to check out Turnpike Troubadours at Mercury Lounge or Dustin Pittsley at Arnie's.
We've also got a pair of ABoT Music award winners making their last local appearances of the year on Saturday evening. First up would be "Best New Band" Stars Go Dim, following its sold-out CD release party with a show at Electric Circus (formerly Exit 6C) featuring special guest Ben Kilgore and two local openers for $7.
Just down the street, "Band of the Year," My Solstice puts a cap on a successful year by headlining Flytrap Music Hall with Nothing More and Stone Cold Sober and a pair of opening acts. Solstice has been hard at work for more than two years and will be taking a little break through the end of the year to recharge and hit the studio to work on a new disc, so if you're a fan, you won't want to miss this one.
On Sunday, Nov. 8, Vince Gill is being awarded the "Spirit 2009" award by The Rotary Club of Will Rogers at Cain's Ballroom. It's a fundraising award ceremony and roast with proceeds going to Blue Star Mothers of America, so the money is going to a good cause, but tickets are pricey to get a glimpse of Vince: $125 a pop or $1700 for a table.
Finally, it all wraps up with iconic, costumed, cartoon-metal act GWAR at Cain's with Job for a Cowboy and The Red Chord opening. Yes, GWAR. Need I say more? If you don't know, you don't belong there anyway, so have fun!
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