GospelbeacH | Interview | New Album, ‘Wiggle Your Fingers’

Uncategorized April 23, 2024

GospelbeacH | Interview | New Album, ‘Wiggle Your Fingers’

LA’s GospelbeacH set to release their final album, ‘Wiggle Your Fingers,’ out April 26, 2024 via Curation Records.

Brent Radermaker has been in my life for a longtime. Kevin Wells of Coley Park in 2000 played me a genuinely otherworldly psychedelic album. I really could not decipher it – “what the hell is this I’m hearing Kev!?” A few weeks later I stood in the crowd watching the Beachwood Sparks at Reading Festival smiling from ear to ear. An hour or so later through the crowd Brent wearing a big hat walked up and introduced himself. Just like that. Later that night we were dancing to David Crosby.

It turns out that Brent’s story goes back a lot further than that meeting and his musical journey is far from over. 24 years on he is set to release an astonishing album ‘Wiggle Your Finger’ from GospelbeacH who he has fronted for more than 10 years now. And if this wasn’t enough I hear he’s been back with his old friends and there is a new Beachwood Sparks album to follow later in the year… but that is another story or one we will all excitedly uncover later this year.

I took some questions about ‘Wiggle Your Finger’ and some I’d always wanted to ask to my old friend Brent Radermaker, here is how it went – and thanks Kevin.

Brent Rademaker

“A podcast album of my life”

‘Wiggle Your Fingers’ is a solid-sounding record with some of your brightest pop songs to date, which puts your voice front and center. A voice full of belief and emotion. Could you expand on the overall themes, please?

Brent Radermaker: Thank you. We actually scrapped the first attempt because the vocals didn’t seem “real,” and some of the lyrics, as fun as they were to write, also felt a little forced. If there is an overall theme, I still haven’t figured it out, but I do connect with it more than anything else we’ve done. I think it’s the closest thing to a podcast album of my life. I hope my expression can be different themes to different people as they listen, and they can find a way to relate to it without just listening to a story of my life. I hope it sets enough moods to invite the listener to be inspired and reflect and to change into not lose hope, but to realize when things aren’t perfect, maybe that’s OK.

Lyrics seem to address the heavy state of the USA/world but also a resolution to appreciate what you have & is around you?

I’m glad you caught that. As dark and absurd as life in music can be, it’s still all that we have, and I do appreciate it. Putting it on notice in a song is better than making an everyday habit out of complaining or lamenting.

Some songs feel confessional?

I picked that up from Lou Barlow in the 90s. Not everybody wants to hear it, but it feels good to let it out. At this point for me, there’s not much else to write about.

It is quite well-known that a few of your close friends have died in recent years like Neil Casal. Are you addressing some of your feeling on songs like The Dropouts?

Pretty much, loss and childhood trauma, but not to be too cliché, but I think it’s about survival and learning more than it is about loss.

Could you tell me about your childhood? What did your parents do, and where did you grow up?

It’s complicated because I feel like I had several childhoods. First an idyllic one on a farm in Illinois and a happy but poor neglected time outside of St. Louis, and then a rather Dazed and Confused-70s adolescence, going to skateboard parks, and Cheap Trick concerts, really quite happy, despite all the divorces.

Rademaker boys band Newport Richy, Florida (1974)

When did you first start making music, and what led to this life?

Started making music with my family. The Rademaker Boys Band. That was in the 70s. My dad had music stores; he sold organs and pianos. He put on concerts. He put me and my brothers together in a band. I think a lot of that had to do with what led to this. Inspiration from some of the people in the Tampa Bay area Scene, postcard records in 1981, and then I just followed my heart. Sounds stupid to say that.

Your musical journey started in the 1980s. What were your first bands?

It actually started in 1979. I had a band called Teen 13. I was obsessed with Generation X and my brother’s group, the Strait Jackets. We started a band, called A New Personality. That would be my first real professional band that put out records played shows toured a bit.

A New Personality

‘Wiggle Your Finger’ seems like it is cut from the same cloth as your 1990 Shadowland LP ‘The Beauty Of Escaping’ musically. Would you agree there is a clear path or a path clearing between your first music and this?

I always make the joke that ‘Wiggle Your Finger’ as the album that David Geffen and the A&R staff at Geffen records in the late 80s would’ve wanted us to make.

Further was your band from the 90s how did this lead to The Beachwood Sparks? I notice a small crossover with Chris Gunst joining you.

Yeah, Further got into these Rex tapes one that was titled ‘Find The Sun’ Chris Gunst and I really liked that tape so we wanted to start a band that sounded like it.

What were ‘The Rex Tapes’ please?

‘The Rex Tapes’ were compilation cassette hits; they were post-Nuggets, obscure tracks, country rock, folk, psychedelic soul, rock, proto-metal proto everything, they were quite influential in the Southern California Scene that he shared them. They were all handwritten and Xerox with images. Some of the stuff was mine from the Dig the Fuzz that came out in the 90s, but a lot of it was sourced from his own record collection. Rex started a band with my brother Darren and Josh from the band Further and they were called the Summer Hits. They made one album that I put out on Christmas records and then recently reissued a few years ago, I think on Medicine Records.

From there how did the Beachwood Sparks form?

Just with the desire to have fun and play country music and play gigs away from all the Indie rock bars just to do something different, but for total self-enjoyment, we hung out a lot at my house on Sparks Street which was near the intersection of Beachwood Drive. Chris Gunst and I hung out there a lot listening to The Byrds.

Frausdots ‘Couture, Couture, Couture’ came out in 2004, it seemed completely unexpected sonically & ahead of its time as you embraced the synth-pop of the 80s which The Killers and others would adopt in a much less edgy way. How did this album come about? And why was this a one-off?

I think I was on my own, and I wanted to make something that reflected the music I was listening to when I got serious about playing and being in a band music from the early 80s mostly English stuff. Yeah, I was embarrassed when it became a thing and a bunch of other bands were doing it, Interpol and The Killers, but they made millions of dollars and I’m still in debt for that one. That one could’ve been a lot better, but I do like the way it came out; it had good songs.

There is a dark energy on that album. Can you explain how you made it?

Well, a lot of the postpunk guitar groups had a darkness, but I was actually living it so maybe I was stealing a little bit of the vibe but the sentiment was all because it was a really hard time for me a self-inflicted hard time. The reason that one is because I don’t want to revisit those feelings. The melodies are nice, but the lyrics are real; it’s not a nice place to be, but it makes good art.

There seems like there was an 8-year break between Frausdots and BWS reunion. What happened during those years?

Yeah, that was just me getting my shit together moved back to Florida started learning how to work got married to somebody who really actually helped me rather than hurt me that all led to the Beachwood Sparks reunion… healing.

‘Tarnished Gold’ seemed like a complete reset for you and for the band. A very hopeful, honest-sounding album. The light to the darkness of ‘Couture’?

Yeah, it was great cause I felt like I earned it if that’s such a thing or that maybe I worked for it and I for once in my life deserved it I couldn’t have been more grateful to be playing with Chris again and to have Neal Casal around as well.

Chris Robinson and Brent Rademaker at Big Sur California (2017)
Beachwood Sparks with Neal Casal and Ben Knight in Big Sur, California (2017)

Then the brilliant Gospel Beach debut ‘Pacific Surf Line.’ Can you explain a bit about the origin?

That was just an attempt to satisfy somebody’s request for me to make a solo album. Patrick from Alive Records suggested it, and it turned out to be really cool.

The cover of ‘Pacific Surf Line’ seems a nod to the brilliant New Riders of Purple Sage?

Oh, I never noticed that. I reached out to William Stout because he had illustrated the cover of rock ‘n’ roll high school and the movie poster for the Ramones and he and his partner Jack Davis did great cartoon-like illustrations for 70s b-movies. The Sailcat lp cover in particular.

‘Across the River of Stars’ Studio Sessions | Farmer Dave Scherm, Chris Gunst, Brent Radermaker

Now your fifth album. How did you record this?

Meeting Jon Niemann and having him join GospelbeacH he’s the only other permanent member besides myself he built a studio that we recorded ‘Let It Burn’ and the ‘Jam Jam’ EP on. He has a Neotek console, the same kind Steve Albini has so there’s not a lot of extra outboard gear and plug-ins. We tried to play it pretty live into the console. He captured it on ProTools and that way we were able to have guest stars like Joe Harvey-Whyte and Pat Ralla from The Hanging Stars. They were able to record parts in England and email them to us. We used 70s Fender amps a Princeton reverb and a Fender Bassman 10, an Ampeg Gemini, that was rewired by our friend Jacknife, who passed away, so he was on our minds during the recording session. The secret weapon of the session was my new Fender, six-string bass, and my Boss chorus pedal. I overdub those parts on a few songs, and it really just put the cherry on top for me.

“The studio is a thief”

What music new and old are you really excited about right now?

David Werner, his three lost classic 70s records have meant a lot to me over the last four years. I struck up a friendship with him during our many conversations. He told me that “the studio is a thief” that really struck a nerve and it made me listen to what we had already recorded that was supposed to be this album and we scrapped it and started over and came up with ‘Wiggle Your Fingers’ which I think is it one of our best albums I’m super proud of it. Inspired by some of the young LA bands, the Uni Boys, Billy Tibbals, and Dagger Polyester.

Jon Niemann and Brent Rademaker in Los Feliz, California (2024)

Thank you so much for doing this interview and please have the last word.

You’re welcome, and thank you for asking these questions. It’s best not to think of these things while you’re making a record, but I think it’s safe to once it’s finished. It’s a good time to sort out what it all means and why you did it or maybe just leave it for people to discover. Most of my favorite records were made by artists that never got any articles written about them never had any pictures in Mojo magazine, but still, their music found its way to me and changed my life or at least made my life better. I hope that happens with my music.

Nick Holton

GospelbeacH Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp
Curation Records Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Bandcamp / YouTube

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *