Radio On are streaming their debut single ‘You’re Always Right’, due for release through Making Visible on May 4. This new track is the latest to emerge from the London based 4 piece, following impressive early track ‘Don’t Wait’ emerging through tastemaker label Killing Moon’s acclaimed New Moons Vol II compilation, curated in conjunction with Radio 1’s Ally McCrae. Radio On will play a single launch show at London The Islington on May 6.
Drawing their name from the Christopher Petit 70s road movie of the same name, Radio On have fittingly spanned some distance themselves since childhoods collectively spent working part-time shifts in pubs and supermarkets whilst rattling round towns in Scotland and the North of England. Growing up- prophetically enough- in the sleepy town whose train station played host to cinematic benchmark Brief Encounter, frontman Sam Hayward formed school friendships with Adam Hartley and Alex Deery, with the band’s line up latterly completed when Adam met James Johnston whilst studying for a Theology degree down in London.
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A burgeoning interest in the European art house movies of Petit and his peers was kick-started by the band’s discovery of Radio On- a film which resonated with the four friends as much in tone and style, as via the new wave stars (Bowie, Kraftwerk, Devo) its soundtrack boasted. For Sam, it was this re-appropriation and re-purposing of the road movie genre from its distinctly American origins which particularly struck him; ‘These European film-makers took this American genre, and they played with it, to put their own spin on it- creating a new sub-genre with real emotional depth & artistic merit’. This idea of rewiring the familiar into a new context chimes with Radio On’s own primary musical touchstones- Blood Orange and Robyn, particularly- both names unabashedly referencing their classic pop forbears to an effect that’s still thoroughly contemporary.
Whilst Petit’s troubling narrative traces a radio DJ’s road journey through late 70s Britain in the wake of his brother’s suicide, ‘You’re Always Right’ itself takes origin from a visit made by Sam to an exhibit of work by David Hockney, depicting the numerous Yorkshire towns in which the artist had lived, prior to relocating to the vaster environs of London & Los Angeles. Struck by what he’d seen, Sam embarked on a road trip of his own, re-tracing Hockney’s own journeys through his former hometowns. ‘All the paintings had a road running through them’ remembers Sam, ‘and it struck me that maybe he wasn’t just depicting a place so much as a time in his life, one he was moving through.
It was that idea of movement that interested me; there’s a bittersweet positivity to it.’ As such, ‘You’re Always Right’ feels indicative of a wanderlust that pulls at odds with the London day jobs in schools, warehouses (the kitchen of which covertly doubles as an out of hours band rehearsal space) and supermarkets that the band still clock on for. Punctuating Sam’s characteristically wry vocals with fizzy stabs of synths, the track finds Radio On alloying a poppy immediacy with this transient sense of contentment, to vivid effect.