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Radio National: Broadcasting From Kings Cross

Written by Daniel Clarke on May 18, 2010

Radio National are certainly keeping it in the family. Twin brothers Stephen and Dan Kelly, and cousin Brenton have been making music together for just over a year now, casting off their rural origins on a farm eighty five kilometres outside Wagga Wagga and gunning for success in the big smoke.

Sounding like a sublime mix of Midnight Oil and The Cure at their height (with much of the political awareness of the former), the boys are currently well and truly immersed in Sydney’s Golden Mile, with three more weeks left on a 2am residency at MUM at World Bar before heading across the road to Melt Bar where they’ll be making their presence known throughout June. Tim Poulton sat down with Dave Kelly to find out more about the band.

Music Feeds: I am very curious as to your reason behind naming the band ‘Radio National’? Is there a story behind this or do you guys just big fans of ABC radio?

Dave Kelly: We were looking for something simple that evoked a bit of an Australian feeling considering our rural backgrounds. Initially we thought it would be a little bit too direct but I have since found out that some people have no fucking idea about ABC Radio National, wonderful station that it is. Whilst some people may relish the chance to come up with band names, we found it extremely difficult to choose something that wasn’t already taken and could be agreed upon. To prove it, we have a hundred CDs with a different band name on them and Troy Horse (a local CD replication company – Ed.) are three hundred and fifty dollars richer.

MF: There are three of you in the band, yourself, your twin brother Stephen and your first cousin Brenton. In your bio it says you and Stephen grew up on a farm eighty five kilometres outside of Wagga Wagga. What musical influences did you all have while growing up in such a rural area?

DK: There wasn’t much choice apart from Triple J, which arrived around Wagga when we were in about year eight. Whilst Brenton was raised on 70s prog in town, musical life on the farm consisted of listening to my uncle’s tapes on the tractor for hours on end; bands like Midnight oil, The Church, Paul Kelly. At high school it was the Pumpkins and 90s guitar rock. For the record I didn’t know what Detroit sludge rock was until I moved to Sydney

MF: Now seeing as you guys are still quite a new band, do you still get nervous playing to crowds that have never heard your music before?

DK: Well, perhaps somewhat questionably we attempted a single launch after only three gigs as a band. It was a fucking mess but a great party. We were more focused on how much piss we had to drag up to the second floor rather than the show. As Steve and I only started singing a year ago we found it tough initially but over the last six months things have started to come together.

MF: What do all of you parents think about you career choice? Were any of you destined for a life on the land?

DK: They have been supportive. There is no money in farming anymore so we were encouraged to go get a trade or go to uni then maybe go back but somewhere in between that got lost in translation. Cranking the vibe and playing music became the main priority.

MF: What is your opinion of the band scene in Sydney? What other local bands are catching you attention at the moment?

DK: People are still moaning about how the Hoey shut down and the demise of live music venues generally. I am not surprised really. Some people think that saying yes to an invite request on Facebook is contributing to the Sydney live music scene. It’s bullshit. People don’t realise a healthy scene means getting off your arse and actually going to a venue. Nights like MUM are fantastic as there are so many bands and most people should be able to find something they dig, if not there are always copious amounts of teapots to compensate. On the band side of things in Sydney, dem rude boyz Sticky Fingers always put on a wicked show and I also really like Jewel and the Falcon. I was at Cherry Rock in Melbourne last weekend and checked out The Fearless Vampire Killers. I don’t know if it was too many over priced Melbourne cans talking but they were great live.

MF: I noticed that you guys have played at World Bar quite a bit. You’re in the middle of a residency at their Friday night club MUM, so you must be familiar with the club’s promoter Grant Barnes. Name the top five things that he hides in his lumberjack beard

1. The finest china teapots on earth
2. Vidette Moore
3. The blueprint for running a successful modern day club/indie night
4. A prescription for Valium for Saturday morning following the chaos that is MUM
5. A Porkies VIP card

MF: This is your chance to promote yourselves, can you tell us why people should be listening to you music and what is coming up for the band?

DK: We always try our best to put on a good show and hope that everyone has a rad time. For us it’s all about having fun and if people enjoy it that’s a bonus. We have eight weeks in a row in Kings Cross, four at MUM and four at Melt Bar (with some other great bands Sticky Fingers, Underlights and Sound Casino). We have just recorded three singles in our studio with Producer Dave Nicholas (Pulp, Midnight Oil, George etc) and mixed them down in Melbourne. The plan is to get one to Fbi asap and go from there.

Radio National play MUM at World Bar every Friday this month. Their debut self-titled EP is out now. Find it on iTunes.

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