Radkey Puts Some Balls On the Sibling-Band Thing

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
Left to right: Dee, Solomon and Isaiah Radke.
We've long been subjected to a subpar lineage of brothers-based bands. The Hanson brothers had everyone singing gibberish through the '90s. The Jonas Brothers inspired rage in most folks over the age of thirteen in the mid-2000s. Now, Dee, Isaiah and Solomon Radke are taking back the brotherly trio with their aptly named punk-rock band, Radkey.

The Missouri-born brothers are rarely apart. They were homeschooled together, they sleep in the same room, and, these days, they spend most of their time traveling across country and abroad in the same tour van. But the family affair doesn't stop there. Their father, Matt Radke, is the band's manager and initial source of musical inspiration, thanks to the vast collection of punk and rock albums he shared with his kids.

Radkey has released two EPs -- Devil Fruit and Cat and Mouse -- and is expected to release a full-length early next year. We chatted with bassist and middle brother Isaiah Radke about the failures of X-Men 3, his trademark mustache and the intricacies of dropping out of homeschool.

Emily Eveland: We were told that you're the one who has to do all the interviews. Why is that?

Isaiah Radke: I am. I don't know, I think I'm just better at talking or something. I've been told to shut up enough times to know that I'm pretty good at talking.

It seems like you're in charge of a lot of the social media, too. Your face is often front-row center in the photos.

Yeah, I mean, we have to keep it going, and Dee and Saul are always around, so it's like, fuck 'em, let's do this.

Well, you've got a good mustache for it.

It's the only thing I can grow, actually. I've tried to grow a beard several times, but it doesn't work out. I feel like it works. If I had a beard, it'd probably be stupid. I think I've probably had a mustache since I was fourteen.

Now it's your trademark.

Yeah, I'm establishing this look. I can't even shave it now. How often does your age come up in interviews?

Every single one of them. It's a part of the thing that makes us interesting, so it's not really a surprise that it comes up very often.

Do you have a mass-produced answer for the question?

Yes, I do. It's like, "Blah blah blah, you don't have to be a certain age to rock, this and that." It's usually longer and more spread out.

Well, on that note, how old were you when you picked up your instruments?

I was fifteen, Saul was twelve and Dee had been doing it for like ten years or so. He did a show and it went well with this cover band, so we're just like, "OK, we're gonna do it." He started playing, Saul and I started playing, and that's when the band started. So, as long as the band goes, that's as long as we've been musicians.

What did your first couple of band practices look like?

It looked really stupid. Like, everything about it. Everything about it was wrong. Amps weren't correct. Everything was wrong. But we didn't think it was bad -- we thought it was awesome! We thought we were the shit. It was still pretty fuckin' new. No matter how good Dee was, that doesn't mean we're all gonna jell perfectly. It takes a lot of work to play together.

Did you guys start by playing house shows, or were you playing legitimate venues immediately?

It was venues immediately. We lucked out on our very first show. We opened for Fishbone, which was not really supposed to happen, but it did. So that was our first show, and we got some stuff in Kansas City and Lawrence, which has been really cool.

Is there any weirdness around your brother being in the frontman position, or have you always been cool with that?

There's not really any weirdness. I don't think Saul or I would even want to be a lead singer. There's songs where I sing lead or whatever, but I only like to dabble in it because I'd rather chill out and do shit in the back -- mess with people in the audience and stuff.

Are you guys still homeschooled?

We dropped out, Dee and I.

How do you drop out of homeschool?

Instead of stopping to play video games and then do your school, you just stop doing that all together and keep playing video games. [Our parents] get it, which is nice.

How is it spending so much time with your brothers? Do you have to find space for yourself?

Not really. We all sleep in the same room by choice. We used to have bunk beds, but now the bunk beds are split in half and I've got my own thing and we all just have three beds in the room.

Where's your practice space?

It's a room away from our bedroom. It's all upstairs, our whole situation.

Continue to page two.

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