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
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
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.