Radars To The Sky - The Big Bang EP
When Andrew Spitser quit his job, broke up with his girlfriend, and moved back in with his parents to go to law school, he thought he was done playing music. But somewhere along the way, those plans changed.
First, he found himself in the possession of some home recording equipment. Next, he found himself alone, late at night in the bathroom of his childhood home, cigarette dangling on the edge of the sink, singing a new batch of songs quietly into a makeshift reverb chamber (the shower).
Then he met the woman he'd soon marry. Kate was not only a classical pianist but had the voice of an angel. So when Kenny Kupers showed up in the same law school class, it was already done. They were a band. They called up bassist Martin Avelar, who'd met Andrew as a student when Andrew was teaching high school, and they recruited Houston native Seamus Simpson to play guitar.
They spent their first six months writing and recording, and started playing shows in early 2007. After releasing their debut e.p. in February 2007, the group started concentrating on its live show. By the summer, they were headlining Silverlake scene staples The Echo, Spaceland, and The Silverlake Lounge. They recorded five more songs in the fall of 2007. Those recordings are what make up "The Big Bang e.p."
The recording is a hybrid -- on the one hand the interplay of Kate and Andrew's vocals tell stories of love lost and the scars we carry from past relationships. Other songs, though, highlight the interplay of Andrew and Seamus' guitar work - melodic and jagged and angular interlocking bursts of overdrive and delay.
Through it all, Martin and Kenny bring a creative and melodic outlook to the rhythm section, while still keeping the rhythms driving forward, while Kate adds layers of keyboards to the mix.
With an April residency planned at The Echo in Los Angeles, trips around the Western states in the works, and a new batch of tunes to promote, Radars to the Sky are looking forward to a big 2008.
We were able to catch up with Andrew for a candid interview. This is by far one of the best Q&A’s we’ve done at this magazine, as you’ll see below. Thanks, Andrew!
CWG: It's nice to meet some fellow Los Angeleans! What's your favorite venue in L.A. to see a show at?
As far as smaller places, Spaceland is sort of the grandaddy of them all in my mind, since it's the place I started going to see music. Hell, I saw The Archers of Loaf there (before the layout was changed, even).
Getting to play shows there was one of our goals when we started the band, and it's been pretty amazing to get to do that. As for bigger venues, you can't beat The Greek Theatre. Kate (our keyboard-player/singer/my wife) and I used to live walking distance from Griffith Park.
It's such a beautiful place; we loved being able just to walk up into the hills and escape the city. And to be able to walk up there and see a show under the stars?! Fantastic.
CWG: The L.A. music scene is famous for its indie rock darlings. The pattern for bands in Los Angeles goes as follows: 1. Band gets buzz. 2. Band becomes big in L.A. 3. The ever-fickle L.A.-scensters tire of band, and they fade into obscurity. As a band how do you guys plan on avoiding step #3?
That's an interesting question. It's true - there have been some bands that I thought were going to absolutely take over the world from here that haven't been able to translate that local success into national recognition (why are The Little Ones not blowing up right now? Have people listened to "Lovers Who Uncover"?!).
I'm not sure I would blame it on "ever-fickle L.A.-scenesters," though. It's hard to keep the same circuit of people really excited about the same thing for too long.
I don't know if that's fickle, so much as human nature (I love Irving, for example, but I've seen 'em 4 or 5 times at The Echo and Spaceland, and I'm less excited about seeing them again than a new band I haven't gotten to check out yet).
I think the key is to try to reach out to find new audiences for the music so that when you're no longer the exciting new face in the scene here and that luster starts to wear off, you are becoming at the same time the exciting new discovery of a whole new group of people.
CWG: You used to teach high school. What class did you teach?
I taught English, both basic 9th/10th grade survey courses and American Literature. I also taught a Speech class for a year or two. And I was the coach of both of the Volleyball teams.
I miss those kids.
CWG: What kind of law are you specializing in at law school?
Kenny, our drummer, and I both graduated last May and started working in the fall. He does real estate transactional work and I work at a place that does a lot of copyright and employment litigation.
Quite the rock-star day job, huh?
CWG: Musically, what sets you guys apart from other L.A.-scene bands, such as the Silversun Pick-Ups?
Well, I think that one of the strengths of the scene here is that it's so diverse, even simply talking about the Silverlake scene (obviously L.A. also has a whole separate Sunset Strip scene, not to mention a hip-hop scene, etc.).
Even within the bands in our milieu, if you will, there are a lot of different things going on - The Airborne Toxic Event are big and bold and anthemic with a viola and keyboards and catharsis; The Silversun Pickups are a throwback to Smashing Pumpkins-style grunge; The Henry Clay People are Pavement-y garage rock; The Deadly Syndrome are the next in the line that includes Clap Your Hands, Wolf Parade, and Tapes 'n' Tapes.
There are melodic indie pop bands like Great Northern, etc.
Where we fit in, I think, is that we sort of span all of those things and more. We have songs that really allow us to engage in my Built to Spill/ early Modest Mouse adoration, but we also have songs that are much more about Kate's singing and have more of a melodic focus; we have others that are almost dancy (the kids in Fresno thought so! We loved seeing folks dance to us); we have other tunes that are sort of that big Arcade Fire-anthem type thing; and we have more folk-oriented M.Ward-esque ones, too.
We have a trumpet and a sax player, and we use an old xylophone I had when I was in 4th grade on a couple of tunes, plus two keyboards, two guitars, a bass, drums, and extra percussion. So we can make a lot of different sounds.
Our set usually starts with just me playing guitar and singing with the xylophone accompanying, and ends in a crescendo of distorted, delayed, reverbed, e-bowed guitars. So that's what I think sets us apart - a diversity of sounds within one set/ one disc.
Radars to the Sky's Myspace
If You’re in L.A., catch them at The Echo
05.21 @ The Echo - (Echo Park, CA)
April residency - presented by KROQ, Metromix, and Spaceland Recordings w/ Rademacher, You Me & Iowa, and Special Guests
05.28 @ The Echo - (Echo Park, CA)
April residency - presented by KROQ, Metromix, and Spaceland Recordings w/ Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, Western States Motel, and I Make This Sound
Andrew From Radars To The Sky Gets Grammatical
chicks with guns|reality check|