When one considers the etymological history of the word rad, the reader’s mind probably arrives in a late ’70s/early ’80s Southern California skate park or beach front. Sacramento thrash punks RAD are certainly connected to that time and place, both stylistically and ideologically. The band’s minute-long songs are swollen with catchy guitar hooks (courtesy longtime Sactoe misfit Charles Albright), one of the tightest rhythm sections in town (at a gig, try to concentrate exclusively for a few songs on Craig Hancock’s and Anthony Lew’s precision focus on their drums and bass, respectively) and more shout-along moments than a listener can shake a fist at (vocal exercises projected by Lory Gil). Audience members know not to expect sets of more than twenty minutes from RAD, but the fun lies in hearing how many songs explode sonically during the band’s pointed assaults at the crowd. While based in Sacramento, the band regularly plays halls, bars, and (most often) houses not only in our fine state’s capital, but in Davis, Oakland, San Francisco, and beyond.
Let us not forget, dear reader, some of the older meanings of the word: radical, beginning in the mid-17th century, meant “going to the origin, essential” and at the start of the 19th century, the British Liberal party began using it in the “reformist” sense. RAD represents both of these meanings. Its sound is both classic and brand new at the exact same time, and any given audience usually varies in age from teenagers who have discovered thrash recently to more than a few people that saw bands like D.R.I. in the ‘80s. And then there is radiate—“to spread in all directions from a point” or “to beam, shine, or gleam”—which these veteran Sacramento punk rockers have been doing in an array of different bands since the late ‘90s (Milhouse, The Riff Randals, and The Helper Monkeys are the first three that come to this author’s mind). TUBE Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with the band before its headlining set at the Colony on June 21 to bring a moshing conclusion to National Go Skate Day.
Describe RAD in three words:
Lory: “Sacramento is RAD.”
Anthony: “Ragin full on.”
Charles: “Here’s your thirties.”
In what does RAD believe?
Craig: “Don’t play too long.”
Charles: “Nobody’s band I’ve seen is good enough to play for more than fifteen minutes. If we’re going to play this loud and abrasively, nobody wants to hear us play longer than that.”
Lory: “I can’t go for more than fifteen minutes because I can’t breathe after ten.”
Craig: “We don’t want to be boring; that’s the worse crime we could commit. It comes from being at a million shows where the audience can feel that point where the band is at its best. If they had done one more after that, it would have been the best show, but they played four more songs.”
Charles: “If you listen to those 80s hardcore bands, it’s all if the vocals are interesting. If the vocals aren’t good, then the band is mediocre at best.”
Lory: “If you listen to our record, it doesn’t even sound as crazy as I felt recording it.” (Give Loud & Fast a listen and judge for yourself, dear reader.)
Craig: “Mood is important, so try to have fun. We can go weeks without practice, but if the mood of the show is a good one, then we can have a great show. We can practice a million times over, but if we’re in a shitty mood, it’ll suck.”
Anthony: “We have balance in our lives; we don’t view the band as a career thing that needs to succeed. The band is a great source of enjoyment and positivity, but it’s just one thing among many in our lives.”
Lory: “It’s not one of those situations where we have to keep RAD going if there’s strife among the members; I think that’s what keeps us together. All that matters is that we have fun. No stress! We’ll make it happen; it’ll be fine.”
Anthony: “That’s kinda what makes RAD so easy to be in—no ego, no pressure, just having fun with friends and trying to strengthen the local scene here. It’s all about building bridges between our two scenes and opening up new horizons.”
From where and what was RAD born?
Lory: “Let’s be to the point. Charles Albright.”
Anthony: “I moved from Honolulu to Berkeley in the fall of 1991 to attend the University of California and witness the early Gilman St. scene, specifically the bands I liked in high school but could never see in Hawaii: Green Day, Jawbreaker, Samiam, Mr. T Experience, and Cringer.”
Lory: “I remember Milhouse (Lory played bass and Charles drummed) being the best band. Besides RAD, it was the most fun band I’ve been in. I loved the people we met, the tours we went on; I took advantage of that time, because I had never been in a band before that one. I loved almost every moment of Milhouse.”
Charles: “The late ‘90s camaraderie of Secretions, Milhouse, and Riff Randals is something I’ve never experienced again, but it was special because we were so young. The first band is always special, and everyone always remembers the first band.”
Craig: “Charles Albright is a pretty astounding riff writer.”
Lory: “Charles is amazing at coming up with the core of the song. Most of the lyrics are influenced by something he brought to the band. He’ll say, ‘I have this line,’ and then I fill in the blanks.”
Charles: “TV shows, moshing, Megadeth…”
Craig: “Anthony calls it the Four Pees…Pits, Posers, Politics, Pop Culture.”
Charles: “Gaming, skateboarding (which we don’t do), Citrus Heights…I get to call the shots, but when it’s bullshit, I get called on it.”
Craig: “Band democracy works in a lot of cases, but I’m fine with a dictator.”
Lory: “Why should we fight for our creativity when we don’t have enough of it? Charles oozes creativity; why should we take that away from him? We can trust that he will come to us with these great songs, even if they don’t sound great at first. He listens to these songs constantly as we practice them, and he brings new parts to each practice. They always turn into amazing songs when they’re final.”
What has RAD learned?
Charles: “If everyone’s committed to making the song work out, then everything else will work out. It’s all about the song.”
Lory: “When the Riff Randals (Lory sang for Sacramento’s own Riot Grrrl four-piece for close to a decade) and Helper Monkeys (Craig drummed with the former Panda Bear Greens) toured in 2002, the Helper Monkeys were so positive about their band at the time. The Riff Randals were super negative, always feeling down about each show, but the Helper Monkeys were always so positive. That’s how you should be; you should be proud of your band.”
Craig: “We’re never going to be Rush. Did we have a good time? Did the audience have fun and a great experience at the show? Fuck yeah! That’s what we all get from it.”
Anthony: “I feel like Sacramento right now is in somewhat of a renaissance of the punk scene; there are so many good bands, everyone you meet is in one, if not two, bands. There are still not enough places to host all-ages shows, but I feel like we have helped contribute to making Sacramento more of a destination for touring bands nowadays.”
Charles: “It’s better to play house shows because the pressure of it being a venue isn’t there anymore, and it’s more cost-effective. Most house shows take place in a basement, which is more conducive to moshing. Houses are great, they keep it low key, and they don’t do that many shows. Those are always the shows we say yes to. Bar shows? Not every time.”
Craig: “Bands that play too long can kill shows. Don’t play too long.”
Words compliments of Morgan Giles
RAD is on a mini tour. Catch one of their shows this weekend or learn more about the band on their website
Saturday 8/17/13 with Final Summation, The Moans, and special secret guest (@ Plea for Peace Ctr, Stockton)
Sunday 8/18/13 with Replica, Completed Exposition (Japan), and xTom Hanx (@ the Knockout, San Francisco)
Monday 8/19/13 with Night Nurse (PDX), Rat Damage, xTomHanx, and Plague Widow (@ the Colony)