So here lies the corpse of dance music: the nails hammered into its coffin the minute Pennie Smith snapped The Strokes in the Lower East Side and folk realized they craved sexy bands again rather than superclub playboys. Or maybe dance music never actually died, but just learned how to play three chords and shout a bit. The evidence? Guitar-wielding bands like The Rapture, !!! and Radio 4, whose new ‘Stealing Of A Nation‘ LP welds political ranting to lush guitar strums, pulsing synths and old-school house beats.
Recorded through a freezing winter, in a studio that drummer Greg collins affectionately describes as “like some post-apocalyptic nightmare”, it’s the sound of the Mayday march storming across the Hacienda dancefloor circa ’89. Led by current single ‘Party Crashers‘, it’s their most fully-realized statement yet. When we catch up with the band, they’re sharing a last-minute spliff in Williamsburg before airing the new material at a Slasher Prom (basically a DIY ball full of fashionistas dressed in ‘alternative‘ gowns and tuxes).
We’re expecting great things – for all Radio 4’s righteous rhetoric, they’re a band who know what a good party sounds like. Like the time lead singer Anthony Roman “couldn’t be dragged away” from New York’s finest Sunday night extravaganza, Motherfucker. Like the time everyone piled around to Nic Offer from’s flat and danced until the place dripped with sweat. We’re hoping it’ll also sound like tonight’s secret show, where Radio 4 are playing under the pseudonym The Party Crasher. But when we get there, the place is crawling with NY posers obsessed with heir shoes and bad ’80s rock. None of them have heard of Radio 4, let alone their alter ego.
“The problem with secret show,” sighs Anthony, “is that sometimes people take it too literally”.
The crowd don’t understand why ‘The Best Of Van Halen‘ ever got taken off the decks, and things inevitably get messy. The DJ makes a point of yawning through the band’s set, keyboardist Gerard Garone throws water on him, the bouncers drag Gerard offstage, the promoters refuse to pay up, the band’s manager punches a wall, arguments break out and it’s not until after 4am that things finally get resolved. What’s important, though, is that the 14 (we counted) people who bothered watching the band had their senses blasted by a thrilling set that proves the band have shed their punk-funk skin and developed into something more intriguing.
“I wanted to get away from that whole disjointed, herky-jerky, spazzy, twitchy sound,” explains Anthony when we next meet at his Brooklyn record store. “‘Gotham!’ was a real hyperactive record: just bash it out and shout whatever somes into your head. But I soon got tired of screaming all the time.”