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19 Apr 2015

Coachella 2015: The Members of Afropunk Band Radkey Find Success, Earn Respect at a Young Age

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Radkey Radkey

Three young homeschooled brothers from St. Joseph, Mo., played Coachella on Saturday—and proved that they belonged.

Meet Radkey, a young band which has taken the Afropunk world by storm.

After their Saturday, April 18, performance, bassist Isaiah Radke discussed their upbringing and their desire to play music.

“That movie School of Rock actually is really inspiring, and that kind of made everyone excited about electronic instruments and stuff like that,” he said.

What’s it like to make music with your two brothers? It’s not bad, Isaiah said, but he added that being younger than 18 poses a challenge.

“It hasn’t been too bad, but it’s really hard to get shows at our age,” he said. “We got some in Kansas City and Lawrence, so it was really cool. There’s not too much pressure on us, and if there was, we didn’t really feel it. Otherwise, people would see us and think, ‘What are these kids doing?’ But we never really felt any pressure—and we just rocked on.”

Radkey—the members added a “y” to their last name to create the band name—has a heavy sound. You can feel funky bass lines like those of Fishbone, combined with heavy guitars.

“We grew up with our dad’s record collection. It’s Weezer, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin—and Fishbone is one. There’s also The Ramones, The Who, and pretty much everything.”

Radkey was recently able to open a show for Fishbone, which Isaiah said was a dream come true.

“As a black band, they did everything they wanted to, and it just sucks that it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to—and it was because they were black,” said Isaiah, referring to the fact that Fishbone never received mainstream stardom. “That sucks, and I have a lot of respect for them to keep it going. We played our first show with them, and it inspired us seeing them, and I want them to know that they (inspired) us. We have a lot of respect for them, because they play whatever the fuck they want—heavy, weird, trippy, and it’s awesome. They’re one of the greatest bands ever.”

In recent years, Radkey has played at the renowned Afropunk Fest, and now Coachella. Isaiah said he and his brothers are enjoying the success.

“It feels pretty unreal,” he said. “Those are all the things you dream about—things like playing Coachella and stuff like that. This has been amazing, being in California. Being from Missouri, it’s like being on a fucking alien planet. It’s an honor.”

Both the band’s Weekend 1 and Weekend 2 performances have been well-received.

“The vibe is cool,” Isaiah said. “It’s super-chill; it smells like weed everywhere, and you couldn’t ask for a better festival vibe.”

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