Today’s Feature – May 7-8: State Radio

May 8, 2008 at 7:24 pm (Today's Feature)

Rulers of Junkrock, State Radio takes on the demanding next step of an impressive lineage of politically-charged artists with the “word of mouth” perfectionist himself leading the way, Dispatch front man Chad Stokes. Along with bassist Chuck Fay and drummer Mad Dog, the three “match its conscience-raising messages with an inspiring amalgam of rock, punk and reggae that is as distinctive as it is sublime.”

Much like Dispatch (who sold over 600,000 albums without a marketing director), State Radio cares more about their message and sound, rather than record deals and commercial exposure. A literal grass roots project in motion, the band is a standout reason as to why we all love music. Their latest release, “Year of the Crow” was created with producer Tchad Blake to entrap a live sound, the style State Radio thrives on. “At the peek of abandon,” the group spent three weeks in an old mill in a small village in England simply bouncing rhythms off the walls, resulting in music that moves your feet, uses your brain, and involves anyone in earshot. The live feeling of the collection is reflective of the band itself, “We try to play like nothing else matters except that very moment. We try to honor the effort made on behalf of the audience.” Be a part of that audience and look up the next State Radio show near you.

And check out Stokes other project, “How’s Your News?” Coming out of a camp for the handicapped a decade ago, Chad helped campers create short videos of “man-on-the-street” reporting, which became the content of a short feature film that ran on both HBO and Cinemax. Soon, it will hit your TV set as a running series, so check it out.

State Radio just wrapped up some sets with Tom Morello and friends, but they’ll be festival hopping all summer. And there’s nothing better than this kind of music during the hot hot summer time. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: State Radio

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how State Radio first formed as a band. Was it an instant connection from that first show?

State Radio (SR): Chuck and I met through a mutual friend and we first jammed together in the back room at my parent’s farm. It was pretty obvious he was a wizard from the start. Maddog was playing buckets outside of Fenway and we struck up a conversation. Turned out, I went to high school with his cousin Rob. Our first show together, Maddog had lost a bet so he was wearing Willy Nelson braids.

PEV: What were your first years in the music business like for the band? When you were just starting out?

SR: Pack up the van, drive, unload, pack up, break down, call AAA, sleep where and when you can. Lots of driving and lots of work on the van. The music business was hardly a thought, it was just how to make it to the next gig.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music where the members of State Radio listening to?

SR: Jethro Tull, Sun Ra, Gladiators, Traffic, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Woody Guthrie and then in high school more along the lines of Radiohead, Nirvana, Tool, and Rage.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a profession rather than just a hobby?

SR: We borrowed a friend’s drum set and a brothers bass and packed it in our first van wimpy. It was love at first drive.

PEV: What is a live State Radio performance like?

SR: It can be sloppy but it’s never without a lot of heart. We try to play like nothing else matters except that very moment. We try to honor the effort made on behalf of the audience.

PEV: Have a large college fan base as well. Which college has the best music scene?

SR: Shit, I don’t know…we haven’t played that many colleges. We played with Ted Leo at Tufts in Sommerville, MA and I thought that was pretty cool.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, “Year Of The Crow?”

SR: More Maddog and more of a live sound – the producer Tchad Blake was great at capturing the band when we were at our peek of abandon. There’s no click track and not many takes.

PEV: How is “Year Of The Crow” different than others out today? As well as different from your previous works?

SR: Our first full length album was done over the course of a year or two in 4 different studios – YOTC was made in three weeks in an old mill in a small village in England. So right off the bat, the location of YOTC cast a spell on the tunes. I’m not sure how it’s different from others out today just because there’s so much good shit out there. We just got the new Black Keys album – wicked!

PEV: What happens when you hit that “creative brick wall” and feel like a song is just not coming out right? What is your method to cure that?

SR: Bury it in hopes of a resurrection years later. With some tunes we try 8 or 9 different arrangements sometimes hashing and rehashing works.

PEV: Is there a certain environment you surround yourselves in when you sit down to write music?

SR: I just sit down whenever there’s a moment or I have a melody or lyric kicking around in my head – it’s not really planned.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

SR: They’ve been great and happy for us along the way — sometimes my brothers and sisters get sick of hearing about the band stuff if the dinner table is too dominated by music talk – it stands to reason..

PEV: Having traveled everywhere, what city do you think offers the best appreciation for music? Why?

SR: Minneapolis is a good one Koln and Munich are wicked! Asbury Park, New Jersey is one of favorites; people are ready to rock!

PEV: What is life on the road like for the band? Best and worst parts?

SR: Best parts are discovering parts of the world that we knew very little about and getting to know people from varied walks of life. Lack of sleep and everyone up in each others face all the time can get old, but it’s always an adventure.

PEV: Is there an “up and coming” artist or band right now that you think we should all be listening to?

SR: I dig Darla Farmer from Nashville and The White Buffalo from LA and Lightspeed Champion from the UK and Ghost of Tom Joad from Germany.

PEV: With a long list of names you’ve worked with, is there someone you have not had the chance to work with or collaborate with, that you would like to?

SR: Stevie Wonder, Thom Yorke, Billy Bragg.

PEV: When the band is not traveling or performing, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

SR: Playing hockey when we can. I do this other project called HOWS YOUR NEWS and we travel around with news reporters who have various disabilities. There’s also a HOWS YOUR NEWS band.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of State Radio?

SR: We drink each other’s piss.

PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio what would we find?

SR: Bales of hay and an Egyptian bust.

PEV: In one word, describe State Radio.

SR: Junkrock.

PEV: So, what is next for the band?

SR: Playin’ with Tom Morello and friends this April and a bunch of festivals this summer; hopefully a new record to be recorded in December…

For more information on State Radio, check out www.stateradio.com

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