It was of no surprise to fans of Jeff Burke that Silent Kill, Radioactivity’s follow-up to their critically-acclaimed 2013 self-titled full length debut, would be something equally as spectacular. After all, as part of iconic Texas punk bands like The Reds and The Marked Men, Burke has made a name for himself as one of the best songwriters in the underground. Throw in an all-star lineup that features other The Marked Men member Mark Ryan alongside two-thirds of Bad Sports in Gregory Rutherford and Daniel Fried (not to mention the guys also play together as Grave City), and Radioactivity starts to look like a supergroup all on its own.
The now Denton-based band formed as a continuation of Burke’s project, The Novice, while he lived in Japan. The Novice’s feverish pop sound set the tone for Radioactivity. But it was the horrific 2011 earthquake that left thousands dead and numerous nuclear disasters in its wake that left a significant impact on Burke, and went on to shape much of the content that would ultimately end up on Silent Kill.
Radioactivity released Silent Kill in June through Dirtnap Records. Though the album moves away from the pop-infused terrain that dominated its predecessor, it’s still as hooky as ever and unleashes a blistering attack of raw guitar and anthemic punk that has received praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.
Radioactivity is in the midst of a Pacific Northwest tour that will bring them to the Cobalt in Vancouver on October 9. Ahead of the show Burke spoke with Vancity Buzz about the band, their new album, and how his time in Japan has impacted the music.
In what ways does Radioactivity differ from other projects together, like The Marked Men, Grave City, and Bad Sports?
I guess the main difference is that Radioactivity is the band I focus the most on while the others are more collaborative. The Marked Men and Bad Sports both have multiple songwriters and while Daniel is the primary songwriter for Grave City, the sound changes quite a bit as each member adds his part.
Silent Kill is definitely less poppy than your self-titled LP. Was the shift intentional?
I had an idea for what the first two albums would sound like before they were recorded and I did want the second album to be less poppy than the first.
Now that you’ve been back home in Texas from Japan for a little while, do you find that your time in Japan has continued to leave an impression on the music you make?
I don’t notice any direct effects very much at this point, but my time in Japan did change my perspective on many things and I’m sure that continues to affect the music I make.
Is there a particular running narrative or theme on Silent Kill?
I’m not sure I’d say there’s a specific theme, but many of the songs were influenced by my experiences in Japan after the earthquake disaster in 2011.
What’s the dynamic like between the four of you? Do you share songwriting and melody-making duties?
I’ve written all the Radioactivity songs to date, but the way the guys play everything changes the feel of the songs. They seem to try to stick closely to the original idea, but the changes they do make always make the songs better.
What bands influence you? Who did you grow up listening to?
The bands that influence me change all of the time, I’m sure. For the initial sound of Radioactivity I imagine the songs were heavily influenced by many of the international punk bands that I was exposed to while living in Japan. I had listened primarily to American punk bands up to that point. I grew up listening to a lot of east coast hardcore punk, like the Pist or Dropdead, as well as a handful of pop punk bands.
What’s next for Radioactivity?
After this upcoming west coast tour we’re slowing down for a bit in the US, but we have plans to play some shows abroad.