Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Radiant Interview

I recently got the good fortune to sit down with one of my favorite Dallas bands, Radiant. I spoke with lead singer Levi Smith, guitarist Dragan Jakovljevic and drummer Daniel Hopkins on the first night they had played the House of Blues in Dallas.

BFD: I guess the first question is when's the new CD coming out?
Levi Smith: ohhh, two weeks three weeks?
BFD: really? Oh no.
Daniel Hopkins: we could make a really rock and roll guess and say the next six months
BFD: So how's it going in the studio, are you finished tracking everything, recording?
Levi: we haven't even really started, we're still demoing out songs for it, we wrote maybe 15 songs or so and probably 3 of those are keepable for the record. I mean, we're writing every week and keeping as much stuff as we can for the record.
BFD: Are you guys wanting it to be an LP?
Levi: Hopefully an LP, I think we might do...I think we're kind of in this mode where we want to put out as much music as possible instead of waiting so long in between records.
BFD: ...Splitting Atoms is one of my favorites and so is We Hope You Win, so keep going!
Levi: I think we want to do and LP, but, if we have a good EP ready to roll then we'll put it out. Or, I think we'll just arm wrestle over it.
BFD: Are there any places you like to play? Anywhere local or anywhere you've played out on tour?
Levi: I think Granada is like our home, our go to place.
Daniel: This place is pretty cool it seems like.
Levi: Yeah, it's our first time at House of Blues, so, we'll see.
BFD: Well, hopefully y'all will be back.
Levi: Yeah, the Granada is where we've played most of our shows lately. Well, for a couple of years now really.
Daniel: We use to play the Curtain Club a lot. But, with the demise of Deep Ellum...
BFD: Yeah, 'cause Dallas needs more condos and boutique shopping!
Levi: Yeah (laughs).
BFD: ...Splitting Atoms I thougtht, kinda sounded really Brit-poppy and with We Hope You Win I thought it sounded the same, but maybe a little more mainstream pop kinda sound. Is that something you guys did intentionally or...
Levi: Yeah...
BFD: Or is it something you just kinda went with?
Levi: A lot of it, We Hope You Win, was like a collection of song we did. All of the stuff we did for We Hope You Win was done in a really nice place with half-million dollar consoles. Everything about that studio was nicer than everything we did before that. So, it's just the older stuff is definitely more contained, a little warmer, not as bright.
Daniel: One thing I think about was we sort of had another intention than with Sound of Splitting Atoms. We were thinking in retrospect it was a mistake to think we've got to write an album that's going to get us a record deal. And so, we kind of had that in the back of our minds, I think all of us did to get a record deal from that album. But, the one thing that I can say about our next album is it's completely what we want to do. There's no pressure to write a pop song or a song that's going to be on the radio. We're just writing music that's what we like. I think it's more pure a little bit.
BFD: We Hope You Win, did you guys put that out yourself?
Daniel: Yes.
BFD: How old is your piano?
Levi: Uh, it's probably about three years old.
BFD: Really? It looks a lot older than that!
Levi: Oh, (laughs) it's just a wooden box with a keyboard in it. And it's not even going to last...
Daniel: This is probably it's last gig!
Levi: Yeah, it might have to retire tonight, we might have to build another one.
BFD: How many shows do you guys play a year?
Daniel: How many a month do we play probably?
Levi: There's significantly been a decrease because we've gotten really busy lately. The last three or four years we've been doing 30,000 to 40,000 miles a year.
Daniel: Yeah, we can tell you the mileage!
Levi: Yeah, because of taxes! But, yeah, we were probably playing, a while on the average 8 shows a month.
BFD: Do you guys travel in a van...down by the river?
Levi: Yeah, pretty much (laughs)!
BFD: What do you listen to when your out on the road? NPR, talk radio, CDs?
Levi: We listen to the Ticket until we get outside of Dallas.
Daniel: If you're driving you get to pick the music!
BFD: Yeah, that's the way it should be.
Daniel: When Dragen is driving we call him B.A. Barackas
Dragan Jakovljevic: What does that even mean?
Daniel: It's from "The A-Team!"
Dragan: I don't even know what that means.
Daniel: When he's driving we listen to George Michael, Jamiriquai aaannnd U2, and that is it!
Levi: Cashmere too.
BFD: What about when you're drivin'?
Daniel: Today when we were riding up here we were listening to someone you may have heard of Phosphorescent?
BFD: Yeah!
Daniel: I just got his album and it is awesome! We were playing that new's all over the place. We listen to the British Sea Power.
BFD: Did you see where there drummer or somebody went to stage dive and when he did everyone in the crowd moved out of the way?
Daniel: Oh my gosh man!
Levi: How embarrassing.
BFD: Who do you guys look up to musically? Do you try to emulate anyone? Sound like anyone? Or, do you just want to be the first Radiant?
Dragan: Yeah, the first Radiant.
Levi: We get to confused if we try to do that.
Daniel: At rehearsels there's no talk of trying to sound like something else. Either it sounds like someone else then we're not going to play it anymore.
Levi: If I had to pigeon hole our music I would have to say, like you said it would be like Brit-pop, Euro kinda indie-pop. We all, we know that's our common ground so we're not like, well it's a place we can all come together and be like yeah this is right.
BFD: Since you guys said you are all fans of Brit-pop do you have a concensus favorite?
Daniel: We all like the Verve. Well, we haven't really like the Verve lately have we? We were into the Verve like six months ago and now were not...
Levi: I think we're always into the Verve.
Daniel: I don't know, I just haven't been, like, I just have to listen to the Verve.
BFD: What about, are you guys Stone Roses fans?
Daniel: Yeah! I like the Stone Roses.
BFD: Have you ever thought about covering any of their songs?
Daniel: Jesse really wants us to cover "I Wanna Be Adored."
BFD: Okay, I was actually gonna...ever since I started listening to you guys I thought that would be an awesome song for you to cover.
Daniel: Maybe we will!
Levi: I like Realto a lot.
Daniel: They're a lesser-known Brit-pop band. Yeah, you should check 'em out. What's the name of that record?
Levi: It's self titled.
BFD: I guess kind of on a side note the first time I saw you guys at The Cavern was the first time my wife and I went on a date. I was like 'Hey let's go and check out this band!' I was kinda feelin' her out.
Levi: We've done that a couple of times with some couples.
Daniel: But, this is the first success story we've heard.
Levi: Where was that?
BFD: The Cavern about two years ago or so.
Levi: Yeah.
BFD: The Valentines opened up for you.
Daniel: it wasn't that long ago was it?
BFD: Two, two and a half years ago.
Daniel: It seems a lot shorter than that.
Levi: Time flies seabass!
BFD: What song were y'all playing earlier that was off of an earlier EP?
Levi: We were just kidding, it's a new song.
BFD: It sounded really good, I was going to ask you what it was off of.
Daniel: Yeah, the bass guitar is the key part of it.
BFD: Where is your bass player?
Daniel: He's at a bachelor party.
BFD: Oh, nice, is he going to be MIA tonight?
Daniel: He better not be! He's gotta be here by 10:30...
Levi: Or else this is his last show with us. He's on thin ice (laughs)!

Off of their album Sound of Splitting Atoms

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