Sunny Rockin’ Daze with RadioBlack
Meet RadioBlack, an up-and-coming rock band whose connections include working with member of Foo Fighters, Smile Empty Soul, Ozzy Osbourne and a whole lot more! Included within the power trio are singer/guitarist TJ Courtney, drummer Derek Gledhill (founding member of Smile Empty Soul) and bassist Hayato Takano. Bringing back the 90’s grunge alternative sound with a headbanging passion, RadioBlack unveil songs that are instantly memorable. Their recent Self-Titled full length has been garnering the band a good deal of attention. Prior to this new line-up, TJ recorded tracks at the Foo Fighters’ private recording facility, Studio 606, with producer John “Lou” Lousteau and a lineup of studio players including Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), and Mick Murphy (My Ruin, Chevy Metal). The production team was rounded out by Fireball Ministry front-man and “Sound City” documentary producer Jim Rota, and Brad Smith of Blind Melon. RadioBlack has been surrounded by a dream team to be sure, but the massively talented trio of musicians who make up the current membership are enrapturing fans in Los Angeles and beyond with their exhilarating live shows. Highwire Daze recently interviewed singer/guitarist TJ Courtney to find pit more the Sunny Rockin’ Daze of RadioBlack! Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in RadioBlack, and how long the band has been together.
I’m TJ Courtney, and I sing and play guitar in the band. Derek (Gledhill) is our drummer, and Hayato (Takano) plays bass. We call him Haytak.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We’re based in L.A., so the scene isn’t like what you’d find in other places since its more of an industry town. There’s a bit of everything. Sometimes we do crave a true scene, but the upside is that you can stumble across some incredible unknown artists out here.
How did Derek Gledhill formerly of Smile Empty Soul become involved with RadioBlack?
Derek was a friend of the assistant engineer at Studio 606, and she suggested I reach out to him as a full-time drummer. As I’m sure we’ll get to later, this sort-of ‘supergroup’ lineup backed me at 606, and I wanted to find great full time members to fill their shoes. I reached out to Derek with some demo versions of what we were working on and he was into it. We hit it off pretty quickly. I was a fan of Smile Empty Soul and he’s an all around great dude. Then we scrambled for a while before finding Hayato on bass.
Select two songs from the Self-Titled RadioBlack album and tell us what inspired the lyrics.
Sure — our video for “Thread” was just released I’ll go with that… Thread is about that person who is stuck in a rut and you want to help them but its difficult because they don’t want to help themselves… that can wear you down. Whether its an addiction, depression, or some other battle. Its not about any one specific person, its a combination of several people and situations I’ve been in throughout my life. There was a time when I became that person myself, so I’ve seen both perspectives.
Our next single and video to come out will be for “Sunny Daze,” — thats the one truly feel-good song on the album. It was inspired by a healthy relationship I had started a little while after a really, really bad one ended. It felt like I could collect myself a bit, start to rebuild, and actually take some time to enjoy life.
What was it like recording at the Foo Fighters Studio 606 and working with Taylor Hawkins?
It was such a great experience. I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters and to get to work at their studio with Taylor on drums was surreal. The best part, in my opinion, was learning the songs by jamming together in the live room. It was really cool that those big-name players wanted to just jam together to get the songs down. It really struck me how down to earth the entire crew was there, Taylor included. They really treated me well and we had a lot of fun. Lou (John Lousteau — our producer /engineer) and Jim Rota (co-producer) really set up a great dynamic. Taylor pulled me aside at one point to make sure I liked everything he was doing on drums, which was really cool and unexpected.
Who produced the Self-Titled album and what was it like working with them?
The 606 tracks were produced by John “Lou” Lousteau, and co-produced by Jim Rota. Andrew Dixon produced some of the other songs at the Village & Ocean Way Studios… and Jason “Space” Smith produced a few others. It was cool to see 3 different approaches to producing, I learned a lot from each of them.
What was it like working with Rudy Sarzo and how did that come about? And did he have any good Ozzy stories to share?
Well the crew over there were all involved in the Sound City documentary that Dave Grohl directed, and Lou had the idea of reaching out to some of the guys they had interviewed to step in as session guys. So he started reaching out and Rudy was one of the guys who was interested. He had some great Ozzy stories… the best ones I can’t really share!
What could one expect from a live RadioBlack show?
A lot of energy. We’re very disciplined in rehearsal and while we’re writing, but live is where we let all that go. We work super hard to master the songs in rehearsal and take the stage and let go of that perfectionist side and connect with the room. A lot of artists now are more about vibe at their live shows… we’re more about in-your-face rock ’n’ roll energy.
Has RadioBlack ever played in the Los Angeles area or plan to do so in the future?
Yeah — we’ve played The Viper Room, Boardner’s, Harvard & Stone… plenty of others. We played Los Globos on July 23rd and setting up the Troubadour & a few other spots in August.
If RadioBlack could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I think it would be the Foo Fighters. After recording with Taylor and meeting a few of them in the studio, and looking up to them for as long as I can remember… it would be a cool culmination of all that. I think it would be an awesome show and we’d fit well together — if we were lucky maybe they’d teach us a thing or two!
What’s up next for RadioBlack?
We’re going to be releasing a new single & video early in August, “Sunny Daze,” and we’ll be continuing to shoot videos for what I think are some of the best songs on the record. We’re also hitting the road again in the fall. Its so great to have the record out and now its time to keep spreading the word and getting it out there.
Any final words of wisdom?
Just to be sure and check us out if you’re a kindred-spirit rock ’n’ roller… @radioblackband on socials and radioblackband.com. Thanks for having us!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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