petite mort In this issueBegin & End No.2 2004
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listen to new radio:
monster i've become.mp3 (3.3MB)
on this boat.mp3 (2.4MB)
thank you.mp3 (2.4MB)




vocals, guitar, cello: Atarah Valentine, accordien: Benjamin Ickies, drums: Ed Zeizel, upright bass: Brian Petway, Cello: Leo Soeda













New Radio, a brand new band from Brooklyn, brings a refreshing kind of richness to Rock n Roll with their eclectic taste and their natural ability to be real. Maybe it’s something close to nostalgia, or maybe it’s just how nice their unique combination of instrument sound, but whatever it is, it leaves you wanting for more…

How did the band form?
Atarah: Craig’s list… most of it except for Benjamin. Benjamin was a friend of a friend.

Your band has a very unique orchestration. Were the songs already written for this specific arrangement before the band members got together?
Atarah: Um… Most of the guitar songs were already written before hand. It was supposed to start as a cello band, and I had probably written about 30 songs for 3 cellos. And then I couldn’t find cellists to play with so I put an ad on Craig’s list, still we ended up not having cello in the band for probably the first month. Originally it was me, Bryan, and this drummer who was really scary so we kicked him out. Then we found Benjamin, then Ed came and then Leo. Once the band was formed, we started writing more cello songs. "Steal Their Dreams" and "On this Boat" was already together and then everything sort of came together after that.
Bryan: So that makes me the senior member of the band… if you are keeping score (hahaha)

What are the songs generally about?
Atarah: Oh, I hate these questions…(hahaha) Ummm... It depends… I’m usually the person that gets screwed over so most of the songs have to do with that, and a lot of them are about relationships ‘cause I grew up in kind of a crappy house hold. Everything was sort of unstable when I was growing up. I had my own apartment when I was in High School, and I was paying my own rent, and I don’t know…I kept getting fired from these jobs and I was broke and so most of the songs have to do with that.
Ed: Love, Loss, and…
Atarah: and rent … (hahaha)
Benjamin: So where does the "boat" come into play?

Yeah, that was my next question! You mention at your shows that you have a lot of songs about "boats"?
Atarah: The boats… I don’t really know how that happened actually, but I really really like the ocean and I like writing about it. I have about 3 songs about the ocean. I’m really a coastal person and I guess that’s why some songs like "Steal Their Dreams" have an ocean setting. I love the ocean but I am also terrified of it, so it’s easier for me to write about it than it is to go in it and swim. (hahaha)
Bryan: I thought "Steal Their Dreams" was inspired by City of Lost Children, like the mad scientists’ compound is on the water.
Atarah: Right. The theme of that song is more like having a goal but having it stolen from you by somebody.

"New Radio is, I think, the best of every era of popular music from the last 150 years all played simultaneously [...]"

New Radio







OK. So, this is a very unique group not only in the instrumentation but also because you guys have such diverse musical backgrounds. Can you briefly tell me what they are?
Atarah: Um, I started playing guitar in third grade until I was about 13. And I played Saxophone and Trumpet in High School, but I stopped because I thought it was geeky to be in a band. Then when I was about 17, I picked up the cello. I’m really not trained in anything, and I can’t read music. I just know what I know how to do.
Benjamin: My dad taught me how to play the accordion, and it was mostly rock n roll. But in my adult life, I’ve started taking lessons, and was taught the traditional accordion stuff, just so that there are no gaps in my ability, but I’m still mostly interested in Rock n Roll.
Leo: I’m trained strictly in the classical tradition. I started playing the cello when I was 4, and my dad taught me how to play the drums, but I am not accomplished in that at all. When I was younger I never even thought of doing anything but classical. I hated everything else. Up until very recently, actually. I mean I liked Rock n Roll, but I just couldn’t see myself doing it. These days I’m really starting to get into it as a player.

What made that change come about?
Leo: A looooot of things…
Atarah: Primarily… (he points to himself laughing)
Leo: Yeah, it’s all Atarah…(hahaha) Um… I mean classical music is still my passion. But with all these new things, I needed an outlet to just get myself freed from this tradition and sometimes narrow minded mentality that goes along with the classical genre. This is a very good opportunity for me to just let myself go. I’m also a self-taught composer.
Atarah: He almost had a heart attack when he first turned on the distortion pedal. (hahaha)
Bryan: I started playing guitar when I was about 12. Then when I was in college, I really got into Jazz so I went to a music school in Boston for a year. I quit guitar and picked up the bass, and focused on playing Jazz bass for a long time. I played with many different Jazz groups and wrote many Jazz tunes. A few years ago, I started playing rock again on electric bass. Then when I moved here, I met Atarah, and that was that.
Ed: I started playing classical piano when I was very young. I did that for a long time, but then I switched to Alto Saxophone. I concentrated on playing Jazz for many years, picking up electric bass at the same time. Then I started playing more rock, eventually dropping Alto Saxophone. Then about five years ago, I went through another drastic change, and moved on to drums… so that’s where I am, and will stay for a long time.
One of the strengths of this group is that we all come from very different influences. I think that’s why this group is working so well for all of us, because we understand the common thread of music and the compositions and the group theme. And we are all able to bring our own different backgrounds and ... you know… to some extent be subservient to this theme, and to some extent use our backgrounds to push it into different directions.

How would you describe New Radio’s style, and what sort of image are you going for?
Atarah: We have a really regimented image…I can’t think of a better word…
Benjamin: Ah… specific?
Atarah: There you go, specific image. Like we are not quite there yet, but I think we have a very vintage feel to us. Not vintage like the 50s you know, but vintage like early 1900s and that period of time. So hopefully one day we will all be wearing three piece suites and top hats, and have pocket watches. I mean modernized but dirty, you know…
Ed: It’s a tough question when people ask us what we do because none of us can really find a band that we can compare ourselves to.
In terms of the sound, describing the instrumentation goes a long way.
Benjamin: New Radio is, I think, the best of every era of popular music from the last 150 years all played simultaneously. You got the Victorian ballroom dance music, then on top of that you have the cabaret from Berlin and Paris in the 30s and then on top of that you have 60s and 70s rock n roll, and then 80s pop, so. The best of every pop or folk from the past 150-200 years put to the modern context.  X