Free as a Radiator | VailDaily.com

Free as a Radiator

Laura A. Ball
Special to the Daily The Radiators, the New Orleans-based band, say they feel a special connection to the Rocky Mountains. "For some bizarre reason, and I've never figured out why, there seems to be a reallly strong connection between Colorado and New Orleans. Everyone in Colorado seems to be in the New Orleans music scene. Not to mention the eye candy is amazing," said bassist Reggie Scanlan.
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The Radiator’s rule to live by is to live by no rules at all. Its freegroovin’ style in music and attitude has paved the way for the band’s longevity, not to mention separate hotels rooms when the are on the road.The band only rehearses when it has time, doesn’t need to stick to the set list and has never played the same show twice in 27 years.”We try not to plan too much of anything,” Reggie Scanlan, the band’s bassist, said. “The spontaneity is really what keeps the band involved and interested, and it is also what keeps the audience interested. They want to be surprised as much as the band does.”In fact, so free are its musical endeavors that the band had to create a genre all its own.

The Radiators, Scanlan; Ed Volker, keyboardist; Dave Malone, guitar; Camile Baudoin, lead guitarist; and Frank Bua, drummer, plays at 10 tonight at 8150. The only time the band’s spontaneity gets them in to trouble is when they are asked what kind of music they play. And so they are the story of how fishhead music was born.”Bands like us, we weren’t disco and we weren’t new wave. We were playing a style of music that was not so popular at that time. We got tired of trying to explain it and so we told everyone, ‘It’s fishead music,’ If you want to know what it is, you have to come and see it.”It’s a conglomeration of everything from jazz to country to rock ‘n’ roll to R&B to Japanese folk music. Its sound is the melting pot that is America, and the musicians reach in and grab whatever they’re in the mood for at any given mement.”It’s hard to describe what it sounds like. It’s basically what everybody is feeling at the moment. On any given day, what you are listening to influences how youre goint to play that night.”Whatever the sound, Steven Edwards of Vail says The Radiators’ music always give him a positive, energetic feeling.”It’s just that rootsy, funky, Southern, fun, good sound,” Edwards said. “They encompass a sound of New Orleans. I love music, and I always go to their shows.”They all grew up in the ’60s getting their hands on everything English, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jimi Hendrix. The band has also been infused with its New Orleans’ peers, backing up legends such as Dr. John, Professor Longhair and Earl King, and having appeared with the Allman Brothers, Little Feat, B.B. King, Robert Cray, The Band, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal.

And from a tiny garage back in 1978, The Radiators came together and began its 27-year-long journey.Volkner and Bua and Baudoin were in a band, and Malone and Scanlan were in a band. Both bands were kind of falling apart, but they all knew each other. One day, Volkner called Malone and Scanlan up and asked if we wanted to jam with him. They said yes and started playing and didn’t stop for the next five hours. Scanlan said that luck was on their side.”Everybody knew this was the band, and everybody quit their bands. We all happened to be in the right place at the right time. A week later, a week before, it might not have happened.”The group’s covers run the gamet of songs like Van Morrison’s “Moondance” to the Talking Heads “Burning Down the House.” Its lack of structure comes into play even in its cover songs.”You never know how the band’s going to play a song from one night to the next. It’s totally been decomposed and rebuilt,” Scanlan said.Say Dave or Ed bring in a cover song, as long as everyone knows all the chord changes, we play it. Dave and Ed start playing some goofball rhtyms and then they usually don’t sound like the originals. It’s kind of organic in the fact that it changes all the time.”Scanlan said everyone in the band brings something to the party, and that’s another secret to its success.

“I guess like anything that’s a collaborative effort, as long as everybody is still interested in it and still bringin new ideas to it, kind of like a conversation, you can maintain it,” he said. “We move together intuitively. That’s how the band plays, we just follow our instincts,” Scanlan said. “Everybody in the band is a killer player. Everybody has the ability to think outside the box. You have to develop almost a telepathy about what’s going to happen, and everyone has an ability to do that in the band because we know each others style so well.”And how long will the troubadors keep playing?”We’ve never really talked about the end because we think that when it’s the end, we’ll know it. For more information, call 8150 at (970) 479-0607.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado