Brent Rademaker of GospelbeacH talks California, Beachwood Sparks, and his latest record, Another Summer of Love.
The first GospelbeacH record, Pacific Surf Line was released in 2015. How did the band form and how did Pacific Surf Line come together?
The band (GospelbeacH) kinda formed on a whim when Patrick Bossiel at Alive Records asked me if I had any solo stuff going on. Simultaneously, Neal Casal, Tom Sanford and I were checking out a studio in a basement in Chinatown putting down some songs we had come up with in the Crabshack, my little studio behind my house. Patrick asked if it would have that "beachy-gospel harmony" vibe and since we were planning on getting Nelson Bragg from Brian Wilson's band involved we said yes and called it GospelbeacH and the rest just kind of organically grew after Jason Soda and I partnered up to finish the album. Totally naturally, William Stout did the cover illustration and that just nailed the spirit of the music and there you have it! If it wasn't for Alive Natural Sounds there probably wouldn't be a GospelbeacH. We are so lucky to have them in our corner.
For a band with some highly skilled songwriters and players, how is the creative process split among the group?
It's like a good skate or surf session...you just gotta GO FOR IT. If you're feeling it and drop in or take off and by that I mean we try to get a vibe going and get each other stoked on the song, the part or the recording. Everyone does their part.
You and your brother Darren Rademaker are seemingly omnipresent in the California music scene playing shows and DJing around L.A. and the greater reaches of the West Coast. What are your earliest music memories with your brother? How did you guys get into the California country/folk rock style of playing?
My earliest musical memory was when Darren would play the Beatles on a little stereo (those black records with that green Apple logo) when I was like 4 or 5 and when he told me they "broke-up" we cried. I couldn't understand it. It just seemed so sad - the pictures from Let It Be and the lyrics to that song. I felt like something was really wrong with the world. I think our love of the Byrds was the gateway into the "country/folk rock" style. Moving here to California in 1987 probably had the most to do with getting us into it.
The first GospelbeacH record came after the last Beachwood Sparks album, Desert Skies. How did your time with Beachwood Sparks influence the sound and aesthetic of GospelbeacH? Is GospelbeacH an extension of some of the sensations you cultivated with Beachwood Sparks or is it more of a independent creative entity entirely?
That is an excellent question...The Beachwood Sparks Desert Skies album was made from recordings from 1997-98. That was before Beachwood Sparks had any success and we were just making the music for the pure fun of it. People thought we were crazy to do a country rock band. That really inspired me to do something like that again - just a pure labor of love with friends. GospelbeacH has so much to do with early Beachwood Sparks aesthetic. We wanted to play anywhere we could as much as we could. We also wanted to play the music that we were listening to at the time, not the music of the modern day. It's just history repeating itself with the hindsight not to make the same mistakes or better yet to do the same good things you once did. The results make me very happy! It's a good formula. I'm lucky!
We recently caught some of your performances in The Tyde, Beachwood, and GospelbeacH at this year's Huichica Music Festival in Sonoma. The atmosphere and sensation of that place was really electric and exactly the landscape and mindset we imagine your music is best delivered. How does a California consciousness impact your writing? What parts of living on the West Coast give you the most creative inspiration?
It really is the perfect place to hear our music. That is the best festival going...Huichica!
I really set out to write about our lives as they are today here in California. The first album has songs that were more fictionalized or loosely based on my time in Florida and the history of California. Another Summer of Love is the here-and-now California. Joshua Tree was probably the most inspiring to me as Kathleen and I were lucky enough to get a cabin on 5 acres down that way - if you listen to the lyrics it comes up a few times. That being said, my many years here in Los Angeles definitely shaped and inspired the songs, like The City Limits etc... California really makes you look inward at yourself and even challenge yourself on a daily basis to be a better person...it's so beautiful.
The new record, Another Summer of Love, was released a couple of weeks ago and has a timeless sound and sunlit warmth all the way through. What was the inspiration behind the record's songwriting? What was the production process like?
The songs had to reflect something special and that is mainly my lady, Kathleen. I told her I would wait 10 years before I would write her any love songs as that would give us time to actually create a real life together. I set out to do that but I wanted the songs to be to the point. I asked my friend Trevor (Beld-Jimenez) to help me keep my songs from straying and he did that and so much more. These songs are so special to me and I can actually listen to them as an outsider because of his amazing input. Production-wise it was 1979 all the way! That's the sound I love and that's the gear we used! We cut it live in the studio and let Jason Soda work his magic. Jason is 100% responsible for all that "sunlit warmth." We recorded it all at his new studio, Palomino Sound.
As a veteran of the West Coast independent music scene, what are some of the changes you've seen in the recording and performing side of things in California from when you first started putting out music? Who are some of the younger artists you're most excited about and what traits do they express that you're most captivated by?
The "indie" scene has gone a little corporate. Everything's a "festival" sponsored by something. The radio stations and promoters don't want to know you unless you hire a team of publicists or have a corporate underwriter. When we first started putting out music you could send your record to the local station and they would play it or you could get a gig opening for Pavement if you sent a tape in...nowadays no way. They don't wanna know because they have to play the same 5 songs and you have to have an army of followers on twitter or whatever to get a gig - it's kinda lame. That being said, I still try and am so grateful for ALL the exposure and support from folks like New Commute. I am always trying to help new artists, young and old. I am excited about Mapache for their natural talent to sing harmony, play like veterans of the Grand Ole Opry and write great songs. That is captivating. I also really dig The Mastersons, Parting Lines, Trummors, George Is Lord and Christpher Owens new band Curls! There's so so many more. It's a great time for music out here!