For years, wandering over to Tokyo Garden after ArtHop and enjoying a sweaty night of live tunes with Fresno’s foremost indie rock band was a downtown tradition. Things have evolved in Rademacher land lately. The band isn’t playing Tokyo Garden as much, but it is in the middle of peeling off a series of three EPs called “Babyhawk.”
Find Rademacher at Fulton 55 with friends Light FM (currently touring with Smashing Pumpkins) and Glasslands. Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover is $7. You can also catch Rademacher on Sunday at the Festival of Hope at the Tulare Outlet Mall. It’s a free show, headlined by Matt & Kim, and also featuring Fierce Creatures and Strange Vine. Rademacher plays at 6 p.m., right before Matt & Kim.
Rademacher’s frontman Malcolm Sosa is more than just the band’s singer. He’s the glue of Rademacher, and a longtime local musician. He’s also a longtime downtown resident, one of the guys championing the “Mural District” and Tokyo Garden before it got cool. Let’s not forget he’s a pioneer of the blogosphere too, having been one of the original contributors to Fresno Famous. So I figured when we decided to have a chat, we had a lot to talk about it.
Check out our Q & A below, touching on the new EP, the band’s current lineup, his thoughts on where downtown is these days and why Rademacher isn’t playing Tokyo Garden.
The second in the “Babyhawk” series just came out — in the short time it’s been available, what’s the feedback been like?
The record was released [Tuesday] and I have read one review of it on a website called http://webinfront.net that is based out of Los Angeles. They called the Part II “a sharper and finer record” than the first one. I think that’s about all one can hope for is that the next one is better than the last one when you’re doing a series like this.
What’s the strategy behind doing a series of EPs instead of just one big ol’ album? When will the third one be out?
The third part should be out before the end of the year. There are many advantages in releasing them as a series as opposed to full length record. First is that you don’t have to commit as many resources at once. Second is that you can get feedback from friends and fans as you go along and tailor the stories, the hooks, the forms around what listeners are drawn towards. Third is that we get to be written up in the Bee three times this year and we get three CD release parties!
What do the new projects say about Rademacher as it is today? Has the sound evolved? Stayed tried and true?
It is always changing. I’ve been playing music for a number of years now and I think both the band and myself are getting better. The quality of the musicians I get to play with has steadily increased and the amount of work and time everyone has invested in this band is reflected in our live performances as well as our recordings.
Rademacher’s always been a Fresno band with a foot in the L.A. scene. Is that how you still see the band these days?
We try and keep one foot everywhere! We try to keep one foot in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Merced, Modesto, Sacramento, Davis, and San Diego. We are blessed to live in a great state with a number of communities that support our music by coming to our shows and buying our records and wearing our T-shirts. I wouldn’t trade one for the other. Merced is just as cool as Los Angeles to me.
Who’s in the band these days? For a group that’s changed members a lot, do you think this lineup will stick? Or will it always be a revolving cast of friends around you?
Right now the band consists of Eli Reyes on the drums, Rc Essig on the bass, Jonathan Hadden on guitar and Kim Haden on keys. Luke Freeman of Brother Luke and the Comrades joined us for our FUSE Fest gig and I hope that he will stick around and play some songs with us at our CD release show on Thursday as well as anywhere else he would like. He is pretty much the coolest dude to play music with. The people in Rademacher are some of the greatest friends anyone could have and we are all committed to making great music together; whether that is in this band or another is often irrelevant.
If you look at the alumni from this band, say people like Niilo Smeds, they are still out there playing their own fine brand of music that is just as relevant and important as it was when they were with the group.
I remember when Rademacher was the young new band on the Fresno indie scene. Now you’re the vets, and bands like Fierce Creatures and Achievement House are new. How have you seen the scene here change since Rademacher started? Is Fresno better off? Worse?
I don’t think Fresno will ever change.
You and Rademacher were a big part of what was happening in what we’re calling the Mural District back before a lot of people were excited about it. The Pearl Building was kinda your homebase. Tokyo was your spot to play. Now we’ve got all these new lofts, we’ve got Fulton 55. There’s a new energy down there. Are you happy with how it’s transformed?
I have lived in Downtown Fresno most of my life. When my family first relocated here we lived on Calaveras street near Divisadero. Now I live on Fresno Street near the Hospital. I lived in the Pearl Building for number of years as well.
If I were to “revitalize” downtown, I wouldn’t have subsidized big-time developers with taxpayer dollars to build lofts and condos while allowing our city’s beautiful museum to collapse. Somehow Granville gets loans that they will never have to repay to the city, but a museum that needs a break is left out in the cold. Where is the “affordable” housing the city was promised when all these condos were built? What are organizations like Downtown and Community Revitalization Department and the PBID Partners of Downtown Fresno doing to enrich the neighborhood for local residents and businesses?
If you go to the PBID’s site right now it says they are throwing a Halloween party. That’s your contribution? That’s how you better business? Someone is getting paid six figures to throw a party that not many people will attend?
What it boils down to is that Club One’s plan to cover downtown in sand was about as beneficial to the community as Craig Scharton’s idea to build a new road through the mall is. And Club One did it with their own money and not the taxpayers.
The PBID and the Downtown and Community Revitalization Department are taking money from our small, local businesses and important cultural organizations like the Metropolitan Museum and handing it over to Granville and other developers. That may be one way to finance the “revitalization” of my neighborhood, but our politicians and city planners are sacrificing the best parts of downtown to make these things happen.
I notice you guys are doing your release show at Fulton 55 on an ArtHop night, not Tokyo Garden. I also notice there hasn’t been a post-ArtHop Rademacher show at Tokyo Garden in a while. Are those done?
As far as I know, they have an outside booker that is booking all their shows. I haven’t been there in a long time. I just don’t have the time or inclination to book shows anymore, it was a really great networking tool when I first started playing music and it helped me make many friends from all over the world, but it is a ton of work. At one point I was booking shows once a week there! I think I have paid my dues. It would be a great gig for somebody to cut their teeth as a talent buyer, but it takes a lot of work to do it right.
What’s next for Rademacher? Obviously you guys are playing a lot of shows around the state this month and you’ve got the third “Babyhawk” coming down the pipeline. But bigger picture? Any plans you can share?
We’ll wrap up the third part of Babyhawk. We’ve been talking to Punit Dhesi, a local film guy who has done videos for Fashawn and Steve Aoki, about doing some music videos for the extra-big-super-awesome release of Part III. We’ve got a CD release show on Thursday at Fulton 55. That’s about as far as I can see at the moment!
BONUS: If you read this far, that means you deserve a prize. Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a free download of “Babyhawk II.” We’ll choose a winner on Friday morning, so don’t take too long.
[photo: Dani Mac Photography]