Return of the Bronze Radio Boys with their new album: Shake Shake Shake
Think of the kind of songs where the lyrics come through loud and clear, but the music is an equally driving force—so before you know it, you are singing and dancing along, even though you just heard the song for the first time. That is what the six members of New England based Bronze Radio Return achieve on their new album Shake Shake Shake. It is their second studio album, and has already reached number four on the Northeast Regional Heatseekers Chart. The band formed in Hartford, Connecticut when four of the members were attending Hartt School for Music. Since then, the band has grown in leaps, even performing for President Obama last year in Brigdeport, CT: “That was pretty cool,” said drummer Rob Griffith. “It was inspiring to be in same room as the President—it was a blast. It was pretty funny to load in our gear with the secret service overseeing the process. We got to see how whole operation works. It was a cool experience that none of us will forget.”
Griffith explained that at the end of their senior year of college, the band began to take shape with four members, and then the additional two members came along a bit later. “I wanted to be a musician ever since I started playing drums when I was young. I think any kid who has ever picked up an instrument has had the dream of playing in band. Fortunately I was able to go to college to pursue it.” The band members consist of Bob Tanen on bass and vocals, Matt Warner on keys and vocals, Craig Struble on harmonica and guitar, and Patrick Fetkowitz on guitar.
For the new album, the band went to Oklahoma to work with Chad Coplin, who produced their first album Old Time Speaker: “We were totally immersed in the culture there. It is a thriving arts town—because of the University especially there is a great scene. People were really friendly, more than the in the Northeast. It was a different kind of experience. Locals would stop by the studio when we were recording to lend us help. Other musicians stopped by as well to bring us instruments. In fact, most of the instruments we used were loaned to us that way! It was a culture shock in a good way,” he recalls.
“Meet me by the river when the sun’s going down, make a little fire, pass the bottle down…whoa I see you down there…whoa I’ll see you there” sings lead singer Chris Henderson in album’s opening song “Down There”. Griffith says it is his favorite song, because it is: “A really good representation of the band. It features a lot of vocal harmonies and is upbeat and happier. There is cool instrumentation and it is just the right amount of Roots style blended with rock, which is exactly what we are going for.”
So what are some of the inspirations for this fresh and promising band? “A lot of different life situations inspire us. Also just having a good time with your friends, I mean that is what ‘Down There’ is all about—everyone can relate to that! We have a few concept tunes—such as ‘Rough Town’. It is about the town we are from, Hartford, which has a bad reputation outside that area—whenever we travel people always say it’s a ‘rough town’. The fact that it has that reputation—it’s really not as bad as everyone thinks.”
As much as he may take pride in his home roots, Griffith and the band do love the opportunity to travel far and wide: “Getting to experience different cultures and seeing what else is out there is great. That would have to be my favorite perk of being a musician, besides just being on stage and playing with the guys.”
Since their first EP in 2008, Griffith explains that their songwriting has gotten a lot stronger, and they have really “come into our own sound with performing.”
“We started off with a bluesy sound, and progressed towards a more Americana, Roots and country sound. We have blues elements still and are Rootsy, but this album has a more modern sound. It took us a little while! We did a lot of experimentation by working with a few different people on album to settle in to what we feel comfortable playing. I think this album is the best representation of what we want to sound like.”
A highlight of their career so far for Griffith was when the band opened for Blues Traveler in Connecticut. “I remember so clearly when the video for Blues Traveler’s hit song ‘Run Around’ came on TV, when I was in 5th or 6th grade. So it was great to open for them! John Popper talked to us after our set, saying he enjoyed it. He and our harmonica player actually did a duo in the dressing room and we got it on film! It’s up on our YouTube channel. It was one of the coolest things, to have one of our musical idols hanging out with us,” he said.
With their vintage namesake and appreciation of a rural lifestyle, I thought Griffith must have a strong opinion on the face of the music industry today, and the dominance of the internet over buying physical CDs: “We all grew up liking that physical copy of an album—I think it’s a better way to focus on one thing. These days, people are always caught up in multiple sources of technology. Digital music can be distracting—people like one or two songs from artist, but don’t enjoy the full body of work the same way as when they buy physical CDs. It is beneficial though, with the ease of access to music. It would be nice if people took a step back and focused on a full body of work.”
From rousing chorus sing-along’s to edgier tracks such as “Broken Ocean”, Bronze Radio Return’s new album is sure to get your body moving.