Friday, September 25, 2009

Frisco kids take on N. 3rd's MonkeyTown

Photo by Fumie Ishii

By Meredith Deliso

A few years ago, Phil Radiotes and a couple of his friends packed up a Volvo station wagon and left San Francisco headed east. They wound up in Bushwick.

“I didn’t know too much about Bushwick at the time,” says Radiotes. “We had no idea it was going to be a place that attracted the same kind of person as us.”

Since moving here, the musician has gotten entrenched in the local scene, playing Northside Festival earlier this summer and sharing bills with art rock, punk favs like Les Savy Fav and Art Brut, with his band, Phil and the Osophers. Next up you can hear them at MonkeyTown in Williamsburg September 29, with fellow Brooklyn innovators Todd is New Each Moment and The Courtesy.

Not only has the location worked out, but Radiotes’ Volvo companions now play in his band. Initially performing as a solo piece for years, when he moved to Brooklyn, Kevin Estrada soon started playing the drums, and about six months ago, Gus Iversen also got in on the act on the bass.

“Gus was listening as he was living in the house, [which] got a little frustrating. I went back home to California and brought a bass back to New York and just laid it on the couch. Within a few weeks it had moved to his room,” says Radiotes, who taught his friends how to play their instruments. “Friends of ours who have known all of us since they started playing have said, ‘You know, you’ve always had a bass personality, or you’ve always had a drum personality, and I don’t think they knew it or saw it, but I think it was in them the whole time.”

Before performing as a three-piece, the act very much had a DIY aesthetic (when he needed a bass during recordings, for instance, he would play guitar and then autotune it down an octave to create the sound). As a three-piece, the music still retains that, er, philosophy, with a bare-bones, punk quality. The band’s recent release, “Parallelo” (Radiotes sixth), out on cassette and CD from Factual Fabrications, continued this tradition, with infectious, charming song structures, smart lyrics (On “Well Being”: “The lengths I go to keep distance pledge a quick, tongue-bitten allegiance).

With that done, the band’s next plan is to put out a 7”, as well as continue to, as the name suggests, philosophize, especially about living in Brooklyn.

“I miss California for a lot of things, but you can’t really beat the opportunity that’s in the city, not just for music but for art, uniqueness, events and chances,” says Radiotes. “Opportunity comes once in a lifetime in like, Omaha, Nebraska. I think it’s because opportunity lives in New York. It doesn’t leave. I’m lucky to be here.”

Phil and the Osophers play MonkeyTown (58 N. 3rd St.) September 29 at 8:30 p.m. with Todd is New Each Moment and The Courtesy. Tickets are $5, with a $10 minimum. For more information, call 718-384-1369.


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