Dublin punk pioneers The Radiators From Space have recently re-emerged with a brand new album “Sound City Beat”. The 18-track / 54 minutes collection features covers from the bands heroes and contemporaries, and draws inspiration from the David Bowie album “Pin ups”. I caught up with guitarist Steve Rapid to talk about the bands past, present, and future.
You originally formed back in the 70s and you had a few breaks over the years, was there ever a point where you thought that it was the end for the band?
When the band split in 1980, there was a long break in between the third album and the one before it, about 27 years. There was a point when we weren’t sure, we didn’t want to be a cabaret punk band. If we were going to reform we wanted to do something fresh and new.
A lot of bands over the years have parted ways and gotten back together, do you think the break can be a good thing for the band?
Well we all still keep in touch even when we were on a break and we still all respected what each other did. I mean Phil had gone on to play with The Pogues, which he is still a member of. We were still in touch and when we all got together again in 2004 to do the one gig, it felt right and that’s when we started working towards a new album and doing some gigs. Ever since then we have built from there, we took a break for four or five years then when Phil was diagnosed with cancer. That’s why there was such a long gap on inactivity. He had to have time to recover, but I think the break before really did us all well.
So really the gap gave you all a chance to grow creatively and do other things so that when you did all get back together there was a fresh enthusiasm and sound?
Very much so, I mean even the difference between the first album ‘TV Tube Heart’ and ‘Ghostown’, there was only a six month gap between them but in that time we grew a lot. So with such a long break we all grew immensely. We have always all had different musical influences and they were allowed to flourish in our time apart. When we got back together we brought all our influences but, we still try to make everything have that unique radiators sound.
Do you think that music has changed much since you first formed, after you came back from your break was everything different?
When we started things were very similar to now, there wasn’t that many venues or places to play but in the in between period when we were off the scene there seemed to be gigs constantly. Now things are a bit harder.
You have one gig coming up soon, your first in five years, are there plans for any more?
Yes we definitely want to do some more. Once we get this one out of the way first. We haven’t played live together in so long and so we just need to go in and rehearse and get ourselves geared up to do a few more gigs. We just want to make sure we have the right set, and the right venue and give people a chance to hear some songs from the new album.
The band that you guys are going to have supporting you – The Strypes – are very young, what made you choose them?
Well we like their style and they would listen to a lot of the same bands that we would when we were starting out. When we started out it was hard and so we know what its like to be young and so it’s great to be in that sort of position where you can help a young band out. They’ve been doing very well anyway though I mean they have been on the Late Late Show already, so I think that they will do very well.
I’ve had a listen to the new album and it’s great, what made you guys decide to do an album of covers instead of new material?
Well it was music that we grew up listening to and loved. We thought it would give us the opportunity to do something that we loved but at the same time recharge our batteries, as we didn’t have to spend our time coming up with new material for the album. We had always intended to do an album like that at some stage. We took our inspiration from David Bowies pin-up album, we took the spirit of the songs, but we did them in a way that we liked and a way that was true to our sound. We started off with around forty sounds that we would like to do, and we managed to get it down to eighteen songs and those are the ones that made the album.
What made you choose those 18 above all the others?
Well they were the ones that we thought we could do the best in the spirit of what we do. We could take them and make them their own. We all went in and worked on the songs, we all split the vocals and Pete Holidai, the other guitarist and I helped produce the whole thing.
Do you think that it helped that two people from the band produced it since it was then free from outside interference?
We went in and we got things recorded very quickly. We knew what sound we wanted and I mean Pete has helped produce things before in his own right, so it wasn’t as if we were going into this blindly. I think that it had a very positive effect on the record and we are all very happy with the results.
What do you think the future holds for the band?
Well there is definitely going to be an album of new material out at some stage after we stop focusing on getting the current album out there. We are going to go out on the road a bit more and after that, I can’t wait to get back into the studio and start working on some new and original material. I mean we are all in great shape and have the motivation to keep going so at this stage anything is possible.
The Radiators From Space were due to play the Academy Saturday 8th September but it has been postponed due a a health concern for Philip Chevron. It is not known when it can be rescheduled for and as such a refund on tickets will be available from point of purchase.