Radio 4

Silent Uproar: So, about the name…are the band just big fans of the BBC show?

Gerard: No, we aren’t really big BBC fans, there really isn’t much to listen to other than agricultural reports on BCC. It actually comes from a Public Image Limited song off of Metal Box, there is a song called Radio 4.

SU: You just played at the Democratic National Convention?

Gerard: Yeah, it was a benefit for MoveOn.org.

SU: What inspired you to get involved with them?

Gerard: We get offered a lot of stuff like that and it is always nice to contribute to certain values that we hold near to us. Obviously the Democratic Party would be one of those things, so we are always interested in doing things like that.

SU: It would seem obvious from that show what your political affiliation is, but would you say it is more about getting someone other than Bush in office, or do you really think John Kerry has the answers?

Gerard: It is such a touchy subject. I am not one of those people that just wants to be against the President. When I vote I want to be voting FOR somebody, and I think that is really important.
You know we are in a really difficult situation right now with the state of the country and just the way things are going. I am really left wing, probably more so than the Democratic Party is, and to be completely honest, I’m not really a big fan of the Democratic Party either. I really want this country to have a third party, I just feel the options are really limited for us right now.

SU: So do you think we should try and get behind people like Nader? I mean on one hand it is a total waste because you know he isn’t going to win, but on the other hand if you aren’t supporting him then you aren’t really supporting a third party idea.

Gerard: Yeah I totally agree with you. I’m pretty realistic and Ralph Nader would never be elected President. Even though I agree with a lot of what he says, I just don’t think he has the personality to lead a country. The big problem is that there is always someone who represents the far right, but there is never anyone who represents the far left. That is my big problem with politics in this country. Even the Democrats are so in the middle.

SU: The new album clearly has a political tint to it. Did politics seem to creep into your music? Or was it more of a conscious decision to incorporate political ideas?

Gerard: I think they tend to creep in. The last record was more the social and political aspects of life in New York City. Taking into consideration all the things that have happened in the last couple years, it is hard to not have been affected by those things. So they just manage to creep themselves in there.

SU: Do you think as a musician who has the attention of a certain group of people, that it is your responsibility to use that to make people aware of political issues?

Gerard: To a certain extent sure. I do get the feeling all the time that we are preaching to the converted. But you know, if that is not the case then hopefully we are reaching some people who maybe aren’t so involved in politics and maybe open them up to some new ideas. I mean really with this record we didn’t want to just preach and hammer out political and social views on to people, it is kinda just in the background for them to make decisions on their on.

SU: Yeah, to me that is the most important part. I think artist should be out there making people aware of issues, but not necessarily pushing an agenda.

Gerard: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean I don’t want to come across as if we have an agenda, because we don’t really. We just have certain values and things we have close to us and we share them with other people. They are there for the taking if you want them, but I would never tell anyone what to believe or what to think. It is just this is how we feel, this is how we are presenting it to you, and you can take it or leave it.

SU: Whose idea was it to do a run of the new CD with a disc full of remixes and videos?

Gerard: We’re all big fans of people who do remixes; we like giving people our song and telling people to do what they want with it and just seeing what happens. As for the video stuff, it was kinda an idea we had while making the record. A friend of ours is a filmmaker and we said why don’t you come to the studio and shoot some film if you want. So all that stuff just came about.

SU: Do you think bands and labels have to make sure that CDs have lots of valued added things on them now to help slow down internet piracy?

Gerard: I guess it depends on which band you are talking to. With us we don’t really see file sharing as a problem. We aren’t the kind of band that makes any money off of selling records, so if somebody wants to download our record and they come to the show, I have no problem with that whatsoever. It seems that file sharing tends to really only bother people who have a lot of money. I mean I kinda wish that was around when I was a kid because it probably would have turned me on to lots of other music. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up so I couldn’t’ go buy records every week, and there is a lot of stuff I probably could have found out about earlier.

SU: If you had to make a play list called “Overlooked Bands of the 90’s” who would be on it?

Gerard: I have a lot…I think that Jesus Lizard was a very overlooked band. There was this band in New York called Bark Market that I think was an overlooked band. I mean I think they are overlooked, but I understand while other people might not get it. Um…I wasn’t really a big fan of the whole slacker generation and so bands like Jesus Lizard and Fugazi had this certain urgency in the music they made that I really like. I was much more appealed to that kind of music. Maybe it was the way I grew up and the way I was raised, but when you do things you do it to the full extent and it seemed like a lot of other bands were just kinda half-assing it.

SU: You have Reading and Leeds coming up, have you guys played either of those before?

Gerard: Yeah, we did them last year and we did a bunch of others last year like Glastonbury.

SU: How does your music go over with such a massive crowd in such a non-intimate atmosphere?

Gerard: Festivals are great. They tend to get kinda strange, especially when you are playing in the middle of the day, but all the ones we did were great. The audience was really receptive and all the shows went really well, so I don’t have anything bad to say about that.

SU: The band has commented in the past on how in an effort to clean up New York, Mayor Giuliani also managed to snuff some of the art and underground culture of the city (especially with the dance law). Do you think he has done something irreparable? Has it really stifled music or the scene there?

Gerard: Not really, I mean it has done quite the opposite of stifling it if you look at all the bands that have come out of New York in the last 5 years. Whether there is a direct correlation between that and Giuliani, I don’t know.

SU: One could argue that the arts, especially music, are alive and well in the city.

Gerard: Yeah, that is kinda what the song “Party Crashers” is about (for the most part), just more people moving here and starting bands because it is the cool place to be, and playing music for all the wrong reason and being involved in things for all the wrong reasons. But that is what always happens, you know? Take a look at Seattle or anywhere else. When a scene becomes somewhat publicized, it is like the new hip place and everyone wants to go there so they can be cool too. Let me be the first to tell people that it’s really not that cool here. (Laughing)

SU: Do you think the sudden surge of New York indie bands that all sound pretty similar has made it easier for Radio 4 to stand out as something different?

Gerard: I don’t know, it is kinda hard to say.

SU: Well you get the benefit of the attention on the scene, but then it also plays to your advantage that you don’t sound like all the rest of the bands coming out of the city and it is refreshing.

Gerard: Well thank you. I mean I don’t know how we feel about that. When you are bringing something to the table it is always an advantage, but I guess it depends on what your goals are. I mean it can be a disadvantage if you want to make money, but if you want to do something that you love and really believe in then it is definitely an advantage.

SU: Tell me about the studio experience with the recording of this album. I hear it was a little unpleasant?

Gerard: Yeah, it was February and we were in a studio that had no heat and it was pretty dismal for the most part.

SU: Do you think that had an effect on the mood or tone of the album?

Gerard: You know it could very well have. This record does seem to be a little colder and a little darker to me, which is very much the environment of the studio.

SU: Do you feel that working with Max Hayes helped to take the band in a new direction?

Gerard: A little bit. We had an idea of what we wanted to do before we went in to work on the record. One of the reasons we chose Max is we really wanted somebody who had a foot in dance music and a foot in rock music and he did. We just talked to him and he liked a lot of the same records we did and I guess I think he added something. I know I definitely learned a lot from working with him.

SU: You have been doing a lot of press, touring, etc in the UK lately. Do you think the record has a better chance of being successful over there than here in the states?

Gerard: Yeah, probably. There are some reasons behind that, one being Clear Channel.

SU: So do you think the media and the control of the media has a big impact on it? Is it more about the different tastes of people in different parts of the world, or the fact that the media is controlled here by large corporations?

Gerard: I think it is a little but of both. People in Europe tend to be a lot more open minded when it comes to music and there are more outlets for different bands that are a little bit different. Here that’s not the case.

SU: I found it interesting that in your press release it mentions reggae and how it plays an important role as a musical influence. Do you feel that those reggae sounds or textures come through in your songs?

Gerard: I think it does and if you look at reggae it is very much based around drums and bass. I think that’s maybe why I am so drawn to it. Even though I play keyboards, my favorite musician is a bass player. So yeah I think it definitely comes through, especially a lot of the effects and noises a lot of reggae artists use.

SU: Last questions, is Bush inherently bad? Or is he just a product of a corrupt system?

Gerard: You know I think I would really have to think about that one. I think it is a little bit of both. He is just one of those over privileged kids who has never had to work for anything in his life and I don’t think he has any concept of the value of work. Just look at how many vacations the guy has taken. So yeah I am sure being put in that position doesn’t help his ego or anything. So I would say a little of both.

Aug 3 2004