Posted On 21 Nov 2017
Meet the rising Americana-vibing artist from Boston who goes by the moniker, Radiator King. He’s received press on HuffPost, Paste, Impose Mag, Brooklyn Vegan, etc etc. His new video premiered last week on HuffPost.
The story of Radiator King begins in 2011 when Adam Silvestri was a young buck in the world of hardcore punk. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, he grew up watching legendary underground acts like Bane and Have Heart alter the way people think through their music. It’s the kind of impact that gets engraved in one’s brain. In his latest single, “The Guns You Pawned,” this impact continues to shine through his own music while bringing a whole new sonic approach to the table.
For many people involved in the punk scene, there comes a time when people grow up and “retire” from punk. Radiator King is a musical endeavor that has graduated from the scene with the ability to utilize the DIY work ethic in the context of his Americana musical mosaic. With six separate tours spanning from the East to West Coast in 2013 and 2014 alone, Radiator King has played everywhere from basements and bars to art galleries and cafes. After his 2015 album, Document Untold, another six-week tour continued his well-documented journeys from Coast to Coast.
Fast forward to 2017, Radiator King resides in Brooklyn, NY and has released his third studio album, A Hollow Triumph After All, followed by yet another cross-country tour. The album “is a sacred and profound attempt to transcend pain, loss and suffering by celebrating a life well-lived, while at once acknowledging the darkly tragicomic catch 22 of existence—that we’re born to die.” A sonic lovechild of Punk and Blues, these themes are translated with the most honest of expressions. “The Guns You Pawned” shines the spotlight on this concept, and the music video is a flawless representation of just that. His all-American working class style, mixed with his rugged voice, presents an authenticity of hardship and brings chills of familiarity down the spines of his fast growing fan base.
Visit www.RadiatorKingMusic.com for more info on Radiator King.
Learn more about Radiator King in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
I actually came to the Brooklyn Public Library to answer the questions, it’s much more peaceful here than at my apartment. I am listening to music on my headphones and at the moment it is a soundtrack that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis scored for the movie The Assassination of Jesse James. It’s good music to write to, it doesn’t interfere much with ones thoughts.
When I am in a bad mood I usually go back to my all time favorites, soulful guys like Reverend Gary Davis, Bob Dylan, the Clash, stuff like this. I really been digging this band called Tinariwen. They are from Mali and their album Elwan is pretty much awesome front to back. A song that i am currently loving is “Down There By the Train” by Tom Waits. At the moment I think it was one of the best songs ever written. I chose a few cover songs to play for solo shows I have for an upcoming tour, and this is one of them. Everything about the tune is just perfect.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
From as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a musician. I got my first guitar for my 8th birthday. I saw it in a window of a music store in town and thought it just looked so cool. I remember thinking If I could get myself one of those and learn how to play, well that would just be incredible.
I’ve had many jobs over the course of my music career that have helped pay the bills. I’ve done everything from tending bar and dishwashing to construction and pizza making. However, all these jobs were always things I did on the side to get by and fund my music while my main focus was always my music. But I do remember about 6 or so years ago when living in Boston I sort of freaked out about life. I was tired of eking by and thought the prospect of making a living off of music in the future was looking pretty bleak. I sort of succumbed to the pressures around me and thought maybe it was time to grow up and get a “real” job. I had some cousins that were firefighters and thought that was a job I could see myself doing. I even took the firefighter exam and got on the civil service list. But within the year I came to my senses and decided I had to put my card on the table and really go after what I wanted so moved to New York City with my guitar and I haven’t looked back since.
Overall, how do you think 2017 has been for you and music career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
2017 has been a really great year for me in terms of my career, probably the best thus far. I released “A Hollow Triumph After All” in late April and the response has been really great. It’s allowed me some amazing opportunities and I’m very optimistic about where everything is headed. I’ve begun writing new tunes and I’m looking forward to getting in the studio in early 2018 and get new music out there.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown of Boston and current home of New York has affected you and your music today?
The Boston area is a very unique place, it took leaving the city for me to recognize that. There’s a certain working class ethic that’s at the core of the Boston culture and I am very proud to have been brought up amidst that. Most of the people who I’ve known my whole life are working class people who have bestowed on me some amazing qualities of strength, loyalty, hard work and devotion. It’s a blessing to have been so influenced by them in my life, and I hope I have adopted some of what they stand for.
I think this culture has played into a lot of what I write about and what I am drawn to in song. It’s one of those things that you don’t consciously decide, it just becomes who you are based on your experiences and who and what you’ve been exposed to.
How did you first come up with your artist name? Why did you decide to not go by your own name?
I really wish I had a more interesting story for you of how I came up with the name, but I don’t. I was at a friend’s art studio and he had this painting that was this furnace looking thing with arms and legs. I told him he should call the piece Radiator King. He told me I should make that the name of my next band and so years later I did.
Using my own name just didn’t feel right for what I was doing. Although I am writing the songs, I am not the central focus. For me it is about collaboration, creating a welcoming environment where people can be at their best and crafting songs that have meaning.
What has changed about you and your style of music on your latest and third studio album, “A Hollow Triumph After All”? What was it like putting this collection together? Were there any surprises or unexpected challenges?
As a musician, I am always following my curiosity. At different periods of life different things interest you and I am always trying to sniff those out. Dylan once said one should always be in a state of becoming, I try to maintain this mentality at all times.
With Hollow Triumph After All, much of the writing started with the beat. Prior I had been writing songs with an acoustic guitar and matching melodies with lyrics, a pretty common way to construct a song. However, for this album I became really interested in how the rhythmic characteristics of a song could really change the meaning and emotion of the song. For the demos, I would lay down percussion with all types of things- garbage cans, pots, pans etc. Then I would start to build the rest of the song around that. It was quite a different approach for me.
Where did the inspiration for this album come from? Generally, how do you go about constructing a song? Has that changed over the years? How did your single “The Guns You Pawned” come together?
The album loosely follows this character’s journey as he walks through scenes of his life. He’s searching for something and in the end he is depleted and exhausted and he reflects back on the journey recognizing that the end destination he yearned for the whole time wasn’t as important as he had thought. It was the simpler experiences along the way that were truly beautiful and maybe he didn’t pay enough attention to them while they were happening.
The album was strongly influenced by the sounds of a New Orleans funeral procession. There is a certain mood that that they capture which was really at the heart of the emotion of the album. It’s a feeling when things end and new ones begins, it’s neither happy nor sad. It’s just sort of somber.
It’s kinda an odd story where “The Guns You Pawned” came from. I got the imagery for the song from a job I had recently where I drove a woman around to different pawn shops to buy diamonds. We would travel to different states from coast to coast and I spent a lot of time at pawn shops in low income neighborhoods. I became fascinated with how they operated and thought the whole concept of pawning your possessions would make for an interesting metaphor for to use in a song. In pawn shops, once a certain amount of time passes and you haven’t paid the fee on the item, it’s no longer yours. You’ve essentially given it up. From what I’ve seen, this how a lot of people live their lives.
With the summer over, what was something fun or new that you tried?
I got a bike over the summer and now use that as my main form of transportation. It’s great! I get places faster and it’s fun to ride around the city. I just got to always remember not to ride the bike to the bar, cause driving home ain’t the smartest way to go.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
Yes, you are certainly right, we are living through some crazy times. Being a musician allows me to exist in my own little subculture or community. Within that community there are dedicated and thoughtful people who put on shows, write about music, book shows, record music, play in bands and so on and so forth. I am fortunate that I get to interact on a daily basis with such people. I’d say the key for anyone during these times, is to focus on their community, their immediate surrounding and work on making that the best place it can possibly be, because while we might not have much say on a global scale we can still have a tremendous impact on the folks we interact with everyday.
If you look at history, the best music has always been made during turbulent times. My hope is that these times will breed some incredible art and I have no doubt that they will.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Musicians I look up to have always been the ones that are fearless in their craft. They are not concerned with how their music will be received, or whether or not it’s consistent with a specific genre. They follow their curiosity and create a sound that they are compelled to because that’s what they have to say at the current moment. There are so many bands out there that play it safe, always making sure that their music is right line with a sound that already exists because this almost guarantees that you will have a fan-base. While this ideology is unfortunately promoted in music business because it’s easy to sell, it produces boring, stagnant garbage.
Some artists that inspire me today are bands like Mail the Horse, Pile, Brian Fallon, Lucero, Grace Kelley All Day, Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan…There are so many out there right now.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a greater music in your songs?
I hope they take away whatever they need from it. I hope that my music can somehow do for others what music has done for me all my life. Yes, I do think there is a greater music in my songs, if I didn’t I don’t think I’d still be doing this. You really have to believe in what you are doing to be on the specific path that I’m on because lets face it, I’m not getting rich off this, in fact I’m barely scraping by. But if you have faith that what you are doing has a greater meaning for people and that it does have the capacity to connect with folks who need it, well then this is indeed a path worthy of walking.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
Forget about talent and luck and all the other B.S that’s so often thrown around when talking about music careers and musicians. Persistence and handwork, those are all that matters. Also, don’t wait around for others to do things for you that you aim to accomplish, because if you do they probably won’t happen. If you want to go on tour, make a route and start reaching out to bands and venues in that region. If you want to release an album, then write songs, record them and put them out on your own. You don’t need booking agents, record labels or any other business men to do these things for you. Focus on what it is that you want to accomplish and set out to do it. No one stands in your way besides yourself.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
Yea, if you happen to see me or my band at a show in your city, come up and talk to us, we’d love to meet you! It’s been brought to my attention recently that people who go to shows feel strange to approach the artist because they don’t want to bother them. Well I can promise you this is not the case. Usually we are just kicking around waiting to play in a city where we know very few people. It’s amazing to meet the people who are coming to shows, that connection is a lot of the reason why we keep doing what we do.