To say we’re fans of the Rademaker brothers would be a huge understatement. They’re almost a living embodiment of the TSPTR vibe and their music soundtracks a great deal of what we do and where we go.
The Rademakers have been stalwarts of the Los Angeles music scene since the early 1990’s. Darren Rademaker trailblazing with bands including Further, R n B surf punks The Summer Hits and the super seminal The Tyde, while brother Brent, also in Further, went on to make an indelible mark with the majestic Beachwood Sparks and his most recent band, the Cosmic American outfit GospelbeacH. They were the originators of a sound that’s been often imitated but never bettered, a blend of West Coast surf, country, soul and pop with contemporary leanings. Their music has been hugely influential around the globe and especially on the new wave of LA musicians and bands including the Allah-La’s and Jonathan Wilson.
Darren (or D Rad as he’s known locally) is what you would describe as the ‘real deal’ - a surfer, musician and sometime model; he plays it as it lays. Every Monday he can be found in Malibu surfing his beloved First Point, one of California’s most famous right hand point breaks. Twice a week he DJ’s at various LA hotspots, spinning an eclectic mix that betrays his love of everything from disco, New Romantic and Reggae to 80’s soft rock and Scottish Indie. Both Rademakers have what could be described as an inherent sense of individual style that can only come from living the life they’re singing about.
We caught up with D Rad recently and asked him some questions about life in Los Angeles, surfing and music
You’re originally from Florida, what prompted the move westward to California?
I was actually born in Illinois, farm country, Midwest roots, solid roots, then my brother and I moved to Florida, it seemed like paradise, that's when we started playing music and skateboarding, reading Skateboarder and Surfer magazine was what made me fall in love with California, You can wear a Jacket at night??? When I was 25 I decided I was done with Florida and picked Los Angeles.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I played guitar in my family's band but all covers, I wasn't as talented as my dad or brothers, I was into music I couldn't play (Yes, Stones, Elton, Carpenters, Zep, Floyd, Kiss, Aerosmith, Rod, Frampton, SPEEDWAGON), I jammed with friends in high school but we never had a full band, I basically gave up guitar and that's when Punk came along, I would practice guitar along with The Ramones "It's Alive", my brother and I wrote and recorded some funny punk songs on cassette, we saw these real punk guys at a few shows, I started a band with a couple skater friends, we opened for the real punk guys the Strait Jackets and they asked me to join them, I brought my couple of bad originals , after that Brent and I started a band A New Personality and that's when I really started writing. But we also played covers, Joy Division, U2, EATB, Gen X, Wah, The Jam etc. We really never produced ourselves till Further.
Your music has always embodied much of the Californian dream, do you think that’s a product of the era you grew up in?
Yes, Skateboarding is responsible for that. Tony Alva was the Same as Jimmy Page to me, we didn't listen to the Byrds or The Beach Boys or Gram till we got here, I especially identified with Gram and Morrison because they were kinda from Florida too.
Surfing, the sea and coastal living all play a huge part in your work and life, almost as a muse - can you explain this?
I can't, why does a Midwest boy love the ocean so? I just do. I don't live on the coast tho I live in the city
You and your brother Brent have played in the same or each other’s bands since the 1980’s and there seems to be no evidence of the rock n roll 'fighting brothers' cliche but instead a great deal of mutual support, does that come with age or have you always been that way?
Haha, we used to be known as the American Reid brothers, we fought, too old now, and we both have our own bands
I often think of Lou Reed or Warren Zevon when listening to The Tyde, the music has the same level of observational stories and caustic humour, especially on Darren 4.
That's kind, Lou is top 5 for me, Zevon I get and I like songs by but don't own a record by him, humor is part of rock and roll so even if I think it's stupid sometimes I'll just sing it anyway, true stories are all I do.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a song or album that's particularly special to you? Where do ideas come from, what do you start with and how do you go about shaping these ideas?
I rarely write anything down, song thinker more than song writer, sometimes all you need is a title, other times I'll have a piece of music forever and finish it, nowadays I video on my phone so I don't forget.
Los Angeles, its surf breaks and its various haunts are a recurring theme and character in your songwriting, what does LA mean to you? Has it’s appeal changed over the time you’ve lived there?
I love the history, I love to Eat at the Galley in Santa Monica and drink at Chez Jay cuz it's what Dennis did, after 30 years I forget about the beauty and magic I first saw and how everything looked when I first saw it, I catch a glimpse from time to time still, it's changing faster every day.
You’ve always had a very strong sense of style and identity that's clearly motivated by the context of the clothing you wear as much as the surface aesthetic, can you explain why this is important to you?
That comes from Mod, style and caring about your "look" but for the most part I've been consistent, I guess 70s early 80s surf/skate? Scott Walker, Spicoli, Crockett and Tubbs, Brubaker, 80s Dylan. I'm done with straight retro tho, gotta mix it up it's 2017
In an age of faux hipsterism you seem to approach all of your creative projects with a refreshing level of integrity and honesty, in what could be described as an 'old fashioned manner’, is that something that’s consciously important to you?
Yes, we didn't pave this road for some kid to piss all over it!
Over the years your bands - Further, The Summer Hits, The Tyde - have all been way ahead of the curve and only really received their deserved critical acclaim after the fact, by which point many other bands have ripped off what you created. As an artist does that piss you off or are you happy being separated from the laggards?
It's frustrating but ultimately satisfying, I welcome rip offs, I welcome anything, any band that keeps this kind of music alive, it's not for everyone, why I'm not as well known as some of these guys out there is difficult. Thing with the Further and Summer Hits Reissues is like in the nineties when we were listening to obscure 60s group reissues/comps we said maybe in 20 years someone will listen to this etc...and that's what happened.
If you had to choose between surfing or music what would come out on top?
Recommended listening: The Tyde - Darren 4, The Tyde - Twice, The Tyde - Three's Co, The Tyde - Once, Further - Grip Tape, The Summer Hits - Beaches and Canyons, Gospelbeach - Pacific Surf Line, Beachwood Sparks - The Tarnished Gold