Courtesy of Radkey
From left: Dee, Solomon, and Isaiah Radke are inspired by bands such as The Who, Misfi ts, Death, and Nirvana. They have played two summers in a row at Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn.
By Danny R. Phillips
You could say the St. Joseph band Radkey has its roots firmly planted in the fertile, creative ground of jealousy. You see, Radkey is a band of brothers (Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon Radke), and as we all know, brothers do not always like to share their toys.
“Dee was using my bass for another gig, and it made me mad,” Isaiah says. “I was like, ‘Hey, let’s start a band so I can play it.’ Dee and I had started so many bands in the past that never lasted past two weeks.‑But this one wound up sticking.”
There have been many fi ne moments in this band’s two years of sticking together. There was the show they opened for punk/funk groundbreakers Fishbone (Radkey’s first show). Or when they were invited to play at the Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn this past summer for the second year in a row. Ryan Smith of The Melismatics recently asked them to record at Minneapolis’s legendary Flowers Studios, and Radkey is also recording a few songs and a video at Wreckroom‑Records in New York, owned by actor Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage.
Dee is lead vocalist and guitarist, Isaiah handles the bass, and Solomon, the youngest and most introverted of the group, takes his place behind the drums.
“I tried guitar,” Solomon says, “but it was impossible, so Dee taught me how to play drums. It was the only thing left.”‑‑
Blending influences as far-reaching as Nirvana, Bad Brains, Thin Lizzy, The Misfits, and the late-1970s Detroit punk band Death,
Radkey has created a sound that is both familiar and fresh. A hit around the region with punks, hard rock fans, and garage rockers, Radkey has steadily built a following through its high-energy shows, word-of-mouth publicity, and fantastic first single, “Irrationally Yours.”
The Radkes take this band very seriously. They approach their chosen vocation as a chef approaches fresh ingredients or a writer attacks a keyboard. The boys constantly practice, play shows from St. Joe to Lawrence, Kansas (where they recently headlined with garage rock band Scruffy & The Janitors at The Jackpot Saloon), and write songs that have become better and more advanced as the members and the band mature and experience life.
This next year will be pivotal for these likeable, levelheaded rockers as they approach local rock-star status and put the final changes on their first full-length record, tentatively titled Radmatic. There is more than the binding of brotherhood working here; there is an air around them that seems to signal their future, one they all agree will be experienced together.
“I can’t imagine being in a band without them,” Dee says. “We’ll always be in a band together.‑That’s just the way it is.”
Taking the music world by storm with your brothers by your side? There isn’t anything better.
This story originally ran in the February 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.