By Randy Chandler
Adjusted Frequency shows True Diversity
The first thing one gleans from a cursory listening of Radio Therapy's debut CD "Adjusted Frequency" is that, besides the fact that it is a bold musical statement(perhaps even too bold for some of you), it is a celebration of the group's collective influences. Woven into the tapestry of the 13 cuts that comprise the disc are elements of great works of the past century by artists as diverse as David Bowie, Hank Williams and the Cure.Yet despite the sheer diversity of the material, the disc bears the unmistakable identity of the four very different personalities that make up the group. In short, RT have created nothing less than a musicological masterpiece.
The story of Radio Therapy actually begins at the dawn of the 90's. Drummer John Cashman, Guitarist/vocalist Rob Atha, and guitarist/vocalist(then on Bass) Kurt Cunningham first joined forces in an early lineup of that seminal alternative band, Round and a Distant Few."Round has always maintained that that was the strongest lineup he'd ever had,"Atha recounts in a recent interview."And I would agree with that. When the four or five of us would start working on a song together, it was almost magical. and that was really the start of Kurt and I writing songs together." Cunningham concurs."At the same time, though, we were writing all kinds of stuff-a lot of material we couldn't really do with Round. We all understood that, because Round was what it was, and it was a great experience.But we stopped one day and said, 'wow, we've got enough good material for our own record!"
"Actually,"Cashman offers, "We actually left Round not once, but twice, to do Radio Therapy! We did it initially as a little side project, to make a little money and more importantly, play a lot of material we couldn't do in Round." This time , however,the group has reconvened in the aftermath of not only Round and a Distant Few, but also the dissolution of the Screaming Casanovas, the enormously popular cover band formed by Atha and Cunningham. Of that, Cunningham notes," It started out cool. But when it came right down to the original material-Rob and I were on one page, and they were kinda on another." "There were some personal issues, but I mean, isn't there always?"Atha interjects." The great thing is that we're getting to a point where we can put all that stuff behind us and move on as people.I just went to see Warrant with Joey(Spada, Drummer) and Dale(Bolton, guitarist) the other night, and it was cool to hang out with them again."
So, seeing as how this lineup gels and writes together so well, why did they ever break up in the first place?"We spent two years on the road,"begins bassist/multi-instrumentalist Tom Towns,"and we spent A LOT of time together, writing, rehearsing, playing. To be honest, we got burned out, just like most bands do.""Plus,"says Cashman,"My life changed drastically around that time-I got married, had a child, and got the opportunity to buy this business(Cashman's Comics)-so it was a little too much to handle around then." Ironically,Round would beckon Atha, Cashman, and Cunningham back into the fold, and the old songwriting chemistry would resurface."It's funny, laughs Cashman,"Because when we broke up the first time, it wasn't like most bands, where, when they break up, they seldom see each other anymore.With us, we never got that far away from each other-we always knew how and where to find each other."Towns adds, "John would have a birthday party for his kid, and we'd all be there. We never stopped hanging out." To which, Atha points out,"It wasn't like,'I haven't seen this guy in months and I'm running into him all of the sudden.We always stayed in close contact."
Initially, the group reformed under the moniker of the Fantastic Four, minus Cunningham. When Kurt left the Casanovas, Radio Therapy, as we knew it then and as we know it now, was reborn." A lot of this material on this CD dates back 10 years,"observes Cunningham.Indeed, I remember hearing "I Love You To Death" and "Bondage Love Song" at a Casanovas gig quite awhile ago."'Love you to Death'-we should probably talk about that one,"says Atha in a low, conspiratorial tone that illustrates the potential gravity of the controversy surrounding that song." I was watching OPRAH one day, and it was about people killing themselves, or trying to kill themselves, because their mate left them.They were saying things like,'I just couldn't go on knowing that she didn't love me anymore...' and I thought, this is assinine.This need to be parodied. So I came up with the first verse and the chorus, and played it for Kurt, just joking around, and we had a good laugh over it in my kitchen. But then he said,'Let's finsh it!' It's definitely not meant to make fun of suicide or in any way promote suicide-it's more of a spoof on OPRAH!" "Oh yeah," Cashman laughs. "Print that! My wife'll love that!"
When I bring up the country tinge of songs like "Partners in Crime" and "Something to Believe", Kurt's eyes light up. "I've always wanted to write a real country song, and at the same time, I've really been getting into storytelling in my songwriting, so something like 'Partners' ties those two things together." "When Kurt first brought 'Partners in Crime" to the band,"says Cashman,"It was more or less a straightforward country song. I wanted to adjust the feel of it so that it became a little more than a basic country song." "The things that John and Tom come up with sometimes,"marvels Kurt."They'll just be warming up at rehearsal, and they'll play something off the top of their heads that just totally creates the idea for a song.And Tom plays like every stringed instrument, so when he added things like pedal-steel guitar to 'Partners', it really gave the song its vibe."Towns also contributed a few choice solos."You can tell who does what,"laughs Rob."If it's rock, it's me. If it's tasteful, it's probably Tom!"
Other standout songs include: "Life on Planet Hell" which,with its smoky intro, would not be out of place on the soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino film;The Robert Smithian "My Blood is Red";the 'Ziggy'-era Bowie swagger of "Electric Life": the new wave pop gem,"Last Night I saw Your Ghost":the 'driving thru the desert'imagery of "She's Mine":and the hell-bent"Do You Wanna Live Forever?", which should be used as the soundtrack to a car chase in the next Vin Diesel flick.
"Adjusted Frequency" is an album for everyone.Contained in its 13 tracks is the kind of musical adventurousness that will reward the listener time and time again, and I feel it is quite simply one of the most incredible CDs to be released in the Tri-Cities in quite some time. Do yourself(and someone you care about) a favor and go buy it NOW. You WILL thank me later.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Say Hello
2. Something To Believe
3. Electric Life
4. Partners In Crime
5. She's Mine
6. Bondage Love Song
7. I Love You To Death
8. My Blood Is Red
9. Last Night I Saw Your Ghost
10. Fool Like Me
11. Do You Wanna Live Forever
12. Life On Planet Hell
13. No More Sunshine