Radiator Hospital Discuss Debut LP, the Similarities Between Soft Cell and Hank Williams + More
Radiator Hospital is the brainchild of Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Sam Cook-Parrott. Featuring an impossibly catchy blend of pop-punk, jangly indie rock and power-pop, Radiator Hospital’s just-released ‘Something Wild’ is the kind of album that gets constant action in the ‘Employee Picks’ section of your local indie record shop.
‘Something Wild’ was recorded at the house Cook-Parrott shares with Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride of the band Swearin’, and while it’s a lo-fi affair, part of the charm is how the pretty melodies co-exist with guitars and drums that sound like they were tracked on a dusty Tascam. “I would love to make a really big pop record, but I don’t really have the attention span,” Cook-Parrott told Diffuser.fm during a recent chat about his new album.
“I like to move fast, I don’t have the patience to work on a record for a year or something," he added. "We did this record in about a week. I think this record was perfect because we recorded it at our house with our roommate Kyle, and he is really smart and intuitive with recording a sloppy guitar band and just has a great ear. So I felt really comfortable adding tons of harmonies and exploring more of the pop stuff. I’ve never shied away from that, but I definitely felt more comfortable with this record.”
He’s right. While Radiator Hospital’s previous output featured its fair share of hook-heavy moments, ‘Something Wild’ is Cook-Parrott’s most unabashedly pop statement, and songs like the hyper-melodic ‘Our Song’ and ‘Lose Sight of You’ get lodged into your brain before the first chorus even kicks in.
Cook-Parrott also knows his way around a clever lyric, with zingers like "when you call your mom back tell her that I'm the one leaving” in the aforementioned ‘Our Song.’
“I was just bored at work, and the first line of it came to me, and then I started thinking of all the little things that change at the end of a relationship,” the singer said. “It was fun to think of what I thought were these really emotionally packed little phrases. I guess I really enjoy being concise and direct and honest. One of my favorite qualities in pop music is saying a lot with a little.”
And Cook-Parrot has had plenty of time to ponder what he likes about pop. In a blog posting earlier this year, he mentioned that his music-loving father turned him onto a lot of cool records when he was growing up.
“He listens to all kinds of stuff, but his big love would probably be country,” Cook-Parrott told us. “My dad wrote for a country music magazine, but he also got me into stuff like the Clash, Elvis Costello, Prince, Jonathan Richman and a lot of the things that heavily influenced my songwriting, like oldies, doo-wop and soul. Hearing the things that connect all of those different kinds of music, realizing that there isn’t much of a difference between a Soft Cell record and a Hank Williams record, if you are really listening, has been a valuable lesson.”
Diffuser.fm had to ask Cook-Parrot whether his father was also partly responsible for his love of power-pop acts like Matthew Sweet and Jellyfish.
“As far as power-pop goes, I started delving into that on my own,” he said. “There definitely came a point where the student became the teacher, and I would know about a lot of stuff that my dad didn’t because he never got into it. He put the record-hunting bug in me though; I certainly wouldn’t have the voracious appetite for finding cool records without him.”
Besides Radiator Hospital, Cook-Parrott keeps busy with side projects Winter Break and Strawberry Heritage, and he also guested on Waxahatchee’s excellent ‘Cerulean Salt’ album and handled bass duties on the group’s 2013 spring tour. With ‘Something Wild’ hitting stores soon, Diffuser.fm wanted to know if he had any plans of taking Radiator Hospital on the road.
“We do play with a full band, the same band that played on the record," he said. "Radiator Hospital is weird -- even though it’s very much my project, I still try and keep a full-band lineup as long as possible and make them feel like they are a part of a whole and not just my 'backing band.' That would be boring. Right now, we don’t have any solid touring plans in place. We all have jobs and Jeff has a bunch of Swearin’ stuff later this fall. We have a few shows booked around the area, though, and will hopefully do a short tour towards the end of summer or in the fall.”
Our fingers are crossed.