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Sibling Punk Trio Radkey Talk Misfits, Marvel Comics + Having Dad as a Manager

Radkey
Todd Zimmer

Radkey are not your average three-piece punk-rock outfit.

Hailing from St. Joseph, Mo., Dee (20, lead guitar and vocals); Isaiah (18, bass and vocals) and Solomon Radke (16, drums) are three self-taught African American brothers who play blistering punk rock with veteran skill and aggression.

Recorded in ‘Entourage’ star Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn basement studio, Radkey’s debut EP, ‘Cat & Mouse,’ immediately evokes vintage Misfits. Young Dee’s preternaturally mature voice is shockingly similar to that of Glenn Danzig, whose face adorns the t-shirt worn by the brothers’ father, Matt, when the Radkey van pulls into Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for a show at Saint Vitus.

Matt, who doubles as their manager, drives that van, and as he tells Diffuser.fm in a pre-show interview, carting his boys around the country is a task not without its challenges.

“The van tends to keep a hold of the smells,” he wearily tells Diffuser.fm. “Luckily, we spilled some laundry detergent in there today. I wish we’d spilled it two weeks ago.”

Image is everything with a young band, and chatting with Diffuser.fm outside the venue, the members of Radkey seem comfortable in their roles. Isaiah, the most talkative, is the spitting image of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, right down to the well-manicured moustache. Dee sports a crisp Nirvana t-shirt and does his best to hide beneath a mess of dreadlocks. Faux-hawked Solomon is the most wide-eyed and shyest — he barely answers any of our questions. Luckily, his more talkative siblings happily share their influences, explain what it’s like to have your dad on the road and geek out over movies and comics.

So, you just came in from Philadelphia.
IR: We just played [music club] Kung Fu Necktie.

What was the vibe like there?
IR: Ah, there weren’t that many people, but it was still fun; it was a cool club with great sound.

How long have you been playing together?
DR: Three years.

Where did the idea for the band come about?
IR: Well, Dee was called to play in this cover band — filling in on bass — and he did that. The gig went well, and it was my bass, and I was like, “I want to play the bass. Let’s start a band.” So Solomon decided to pick up the drums, and we made it happen.

What sort of cover band was it?
DR: It was, like, ’80s. ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ …

Wow. That sort of stuff. It wasn’t even punk rock.
DR: No, it was temporary. I think I had to play 3 Doors Down at one point.

Oh man. I’m so sorry …
DR: Yeah, dude.

Just from reading your band page on the Radkey website, we feel like we could get along really well. Answer these next questions as you see fit.

Team Lannister or Team Stark?
All: Stark

IR: I’d rather be a Lannister. [laughs]

Star Wars or Star Trek?
All: Star Wars

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ or ‘The Uncanny X-Men’?
[immediate internal discord; apparently Diffuser.fm has hit a nerve]

SR: Oh man! Hmm. I can’t answer that!
IR: I have to say, ‘Amazing Spider-Man,’ but ‘Uncanny X-Men’ is right there.

‘The Shining’ or ‘A Clockwork Orange’?
All: ‘Clockwork Orange’

IR: Straight up. Favorite movie ever.

Samhain or Danzig?
All: Danzig.

Speaking of Glenn Danzig, we hear a lot of early Misfits in your sound. What are some of your main influences?
All: Nirvana! Weezer! Misfits! Ramones! Local H! Giraffes! Freshkills! Goes Cube! Led Zeppelin! Fishbone! The Who! Bad Brains!

What’s it like having your father as a manager?
All [in unison]: Easy!

IR: It makes everything so much easier. We all get along. He’s there to help us … it’s awesome. We don’t retain information. He does the talking; we do the playing and the writing.

You guys were home-schooled, correct?
IR: Yes. We went to public school for one year, and we hated it, because no one liked Led Zeppelin or knew who they were.

The ‘Cat & Mouse’ EP is lightning fast. Are your sets super short?
IR: They can be. It depends on how much I feel like talking. [laughs]**

Is that by design?
[chorus of "No"s]

IR: We like to design songs that start small, build up, explode, then stop. Then people want more. We let the songs have what we need.

I went to your town’s website, and it looks pretty normal. Are you part of a subversive underground music scene that is looking to inject evil into your town?
[laughs]

IR: Not yet …

In other words, should St. Joseph’s parents be worried?
IR: They should be.

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