Oklahoma City's Red City Radio is currently touring around the United States in support of their latest album Titles on the record label Paper + Plastick. The album comes in strong with the lead track "Two Notes Shy of an Octave." The verse immediately draws attention to the gritty yet charmingly inviting voice of Garrett Dale. Once the chorus hits Paul Pendley, Jojo Knight, and Dallas Tidwell prove that they're no slouches in the vocal department either. It becomes obvious very quickly that these songs will soon force me to sing along loudly in the car while exceeding the speed limit. Standouts on the album include "Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You," the aforementioned "Two Notes Shy Of An Octave," and "I'll Take A Mile." Do yourself a favor and check out the free stream of Titles on the Paper + Plastick Soundcloud page.
I caught up with Red City Radio when they played Detroit's Magic Stick with Big D and the Kid's Table. After securing a last minute photographer I departed for the Stick shielded from the cool fall night in my InkAddict IA Pattern Hoodie. I arrived at the venue to find RCR enjoying a pre-show meal at the bar. It was obvious that these guys were good friends. They swapped jokes and laughed often while fueling their bodies for the show. After they finished up we headed upstairs to talk about their new record, the tour, and tattoos. Here's what they had to say.
You guys have all been in other bands before and not all of them were punk bands. You also reference Woody Guthrie in one of your songs. You're obviously into other genres. What other types of music do you like?
Garret Dale: We like mostly all music except for dubstep. It's not music though.
Dallas Tidwell: Today on the way into town we were doing a lot of 80's and just cheesy weird shit.
GD: We're an eclectic group of dudes. We listen to a lot of Sam Cooke, Woody Guthrie sometimes... everything really. We were listening to the radio today. We heard that country song "Parking Lot Party."
JoJo Knight: Yeah, we were sort of making fun of modern country today.
DT: We had Wu-Tang on yesterday while driving to Chicago. It's kind of all over the place.
With all the different musical interests what draws you to play punk?
GD: The money. [everyone laughs]
JK: It's easy.[more laughs] It's just the common denominator between all of our tastes.
GD: Punk rock's really special to all of us. It's definitely what got us into playing music in general. It's natural for us to write punk rock. We listen to punk rock for sure... just not all the time.
DT: Punk rock was the first thing I listened to and thought, "I can do that. I wanna write a song like that." That's the first type of music that I listened to that made me want to actually create music... or least made me feel like I could.
What were some of those bands?
DT: The first time I thought, "I want to write a song like that," was No Use For A Name... Tony Sly [R.I.P.]. His ability to write a melody that just will not leave your head was amazing.
GD: Dead Kennedys, Black Flag. What really drew me to punk rock was all the crap I was listening to before punk rock like Limp Bizkit. I'm 26 so that so that shit was super popular when I was in the 5th grade.
GD: When I heard punk rock I was like... OH... Crap, I've been listening to terrible music.
JK: I think my entry into punk rock was Lookout Records stuff.
Jojo's Screeching Weasel tattoo. Photo by Michael McMurray Click to enlarge.
Yeah, me too. I have a Screeching Weasel tattoo on my arm.
JK: I do too. I've got [the] Wiggle [album cover].
You guys all sing in the band. Is it a collaborative writing experience as well?
GD: It's very sporatic. Sometimes one of us will write a whole song. Sometimes we collectively write from beginning to end. We all definitely put our own funk onto things and write parts and background vocals. For the most part, it's definitely a 4 person party.
JK: There's definitely no one way approach. Sometimes Garrett or Paul will come to the table with something pretty compete and we'll just add to it. A lot of times me or Paul say, "Well, is this the chorus?" and someone else will say, "No, that's not the chorus." "No, that's totally the hook." Or someone will say, "That happens once." "No, that happens a lot more than once."
DT: That has to happen more than once.
JK: Then we fight over it and end up coming to terms with a song.
GD: We flip coins
You're first album The Dangers of Standing Still was recorded by Stephen Egerton. Was he involved on Titles, too?
GD: We actually recorded with our buddy Kendall this time at...
DT: It's called Red Audio Werks. It's our friend Kendall Stephens but Stephen [Egerton] did mix the record. Where he previously recording and mixing. So, he did have a hand in it.
GD: We love working with Stephen. He's awesome
Do you guys enjoy the studio or would you rather be playing live?
Paul Pendley: I think most musicians play for the live experience. That's the ultimate pay off but it's also nice to go into the studio. To have a finished product. Something you can hold up and say that this is something that we created. To have something tangible like that is very cool, also. So yeah, I like it.
How long did it take to write Titles?
GD: We took a lot of time to write the album.
JK: We wrote what became the first song from the record about a year before we went in the studio but a lot of the material came together near the end.
Dallas's juggling elephant. Photo by Michael McMurray. Click to enlarge.
PP: I feel like we're motivated by deadlines really well.
GD: We could probably pump out an EP by 11 o'clock if you really made us.
Let's talk tattoos. Dallas it looks like you have the most.
DT: Yeah, that's probably me.
The "stay hydrated" tattoo is to remind us because you will die." Photo by Michael McMurray.
Any stories or meanings behind your tattoos?
GD: We have band tattoos. A couple matching tattoos.
DT: We usually try to get stupid tour tattoos. We've got a "Stay Hydrated" one. A majority of mine are just stupid and fun. There's a couple that have meaning but for the most part it's just like... Yeah, I want an elephant riding a unicycle juggling shit. I call my guy and he draws it up and I say, "Yeah, that looks awesome. Let's do it." That's how I get tattoos.
Garrett's Devo gorilla. Photo by Michael McMurray. Click to enlarge.
GD: I don't have a lot. Mine, so far, are stupid, goofy shit but with meaning behind them. Like, I love Devo so I got a purple gorilla wearing a Devo hat. The "stay hydrated" tattoo is to remind us because you will die.
JK: Most of mine are music related to some degree. I've got a Wu-Tang tattoo. I've got a Paper + Plastick. I've got a Less Than Jake. I told you about the Screeching Weasel. I've got a Jawbreaker. For the most part mine were spur of the moment.
Jojo's Less Than Jake tattoo. Photo by Michael Mcmurray. Click to enlarge.
What shops or artists do you go to?
GD: If you're ever in Oklahoma City, OK stop by Hard Luck Tattoo. Go see Chad Miller. He's really good. My girlfriend's apprenticing to be a tattoo artist... go give her money! She starts tattooing in 6 months. Her name is Jackie Jones. She's gonna be a fucking badass tattoo artist. So I can get free tattoos.
JK: Just don't do it after a fight.
Slug Life! Photo by Michael McMurray. Click to enlarge.
You said there was more than one tattoo that you guys share. What are the others?
JK: We've got a Slug Life tattoo. We were playing in Midland, TX and we saw this graffiti that said "Slug Life" with a slug drawn over it on the wall. We thought it was just some random graffiti. We were like, "Let's get a tattoo of that." I think it was Dallas's idea. So on that same tour we were in San Diego and there was $20 tattoos for St. Patrick's Day. We walked in and he [Dallas] and I got it and our tour manager and merch guy at the time got it. We saw [the image] somewhere else, then we saw it in Europe. Turns out it's a skate clique or something by the dudes in the band Transit. So we got a band related tattoo of a band we're not even familiar with. He [Dallas] and I got an Oklahoma state seal on the back of our legs on our very first tour.
DT: Basically, we partied with the tattoo artist all night the night before and he was like, "yeah, I'll give you guys free tattoos." So we kept him up all night so when we went in to get our tattoos he was fucking hungover and hating life.
JK: Not to mention, and I'm not going to go into details, that this guy was telling us a story as he's tattooing us that he just did prison time for shooting a guy in the face. It did not kill the guy but we were like what the fuck did we get into?
DT: Our tour manager went first that day and got his own tattoo. Then Jojo went and got what I would call a C+ level tattoo. By the time he got to me... as he's starting to work on me he's like, "I'm so fucking hungover right now." I'm just like... I should probably pull the plug on this but I went ahead and did it. I have what I would call maybe a D+ tattoo. It's supposed to be a circle but it's more of a sad, flattened, semi inflated ballon. It's not good. Don't party with your tattoo artist.
JK: So I don't wear shorts now. No big deal.
DT: I'm thinking of having this leg removed.
[Dallas and Jojo decided that they were not going to share these pieces with the photographer. It's ok guys. I have a tattoo where the artist fell asleep while he was tattooing me. I wouldn't want to share that one either.]
After this tour, what's next for Red City Radio?
JK: Yeah, we're cooking something up in January and February right now that we'll announce probably in the next month and we're working on Europe in the spring.
After the interview Red City Radio took the stage and proved that there is definitely no "studio magic" on their records. These guys can play and these guys can sing. I would've gladly stuck around for 20 more songs.
Originally Published: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 16:11:27
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