Roosevelt Radio: The Best Band You Haven’t Heard Of (Yet)
The members of Roosevelt Radio, a next-big-thing band in its infancy, wear their influences shamelessly on their vintage suit jacket sleeves. And while many bands today are taking pages out of the Arcade Fire playbook, Roosevelt Radio takes their well worn crayons to them and colours in the spaces between the lines. The end results are carefully crafted hooks, peak and valley dynamics, and an overall pop sensibility that is easily accessible on the first listen but rewards further attention. Not bad for a band that’s been together less than a year.
Although the band is based out of San Francisco, the members of Roosevelt Radio are well seasoned musicians from across the States (keyboardist Sarah Morgan, drummer Phil Coffin are the only native Californians), Wisconsin (guitarist Joel Line), Pennsylvania (singer/guitarist Ben Ross) and even Canada (bassist Adrian McCullough). Those ingredients would make one hell of a stew, but it makes an even better sonic adventure. With the guidance of uber-producer Chris Wonzer (Christina Aguilera, New Found Glory, Joe Cocker), the band has been writing, recording, and perfecting tracks for a debut album, due in October.
A striking difference between the Roosevelts and other new artists is their decision to take a low-tech approach to recording, choosing to take some extra time to actually play songs from start to finish and record onto old-school two inch tape. Although a little more expensive, the end result are songs that have their roots in modern music but with a distinctly analog vibe. And, according to bassist Adrian McCullough, “It was cool leaving the studio with two reels of tape. It was the ultimate experience.”
A democracy when it comes down to band direction, songwriting often begins with guitarist/lyricist Ben Ross, with the rest of Roosevelt Radio adding their own flare and arrangement ideas. The song ideas may start with Ross, but often take many different twists and turns once the entire band becomes involved. “We have a pretty heavy set of filters on our ears.” says McCullough, when asked how the group decides what works and what doesn’t. “We all have an equal say, although Ben is our songwriting genius.”
For all their work in the studio, Roosevelt Radio is making sure the songs translate live. Bassist McCullough is adamant, “We want to be able to perform our songs live and we don’t want to work with backing tracks…we don’t want to be a laptop band.” Their shows have helped spread the gospel of the group, and they have quickly forged a reputation as a hot live act in the San Francisco music scene. “You don’t develop your sonic thing until you start playing loud and live and getting the sounds working.” says McCullough.
By embracing and respecting classic recording and performance ideals, Roosevelt Radio are ready to see where their musical future will take them. Look for their album on iTunes and Amazon in October. In the meantime, start stalking them on myspace, facebook, and twitter. They even have a handy website for your viewing enjoyment here.