Typically, punk rock isn't exactly renowned for its maturity, but Numbers Radio are about as far from typical as you can get. While their songs may possess the kind of energy the punk rock genre is reliant on – and pack it in spades – these guys approach their brand of aggressive music in an altogether different manner. Track back to the mid-noughties and you’d have seen the three members of Numbers Radio flexing very different musical muscles.
Guitarist David Orr and bassist Robbie Carlyon have been mates since their teenage years and creative collaborators for most of that time as well. In the years preceding the formation of Numbers Radio, these two guys were involved in a myriad of different musical endeavours both together and apart. Orr's love of guitar drew him to studying jazz and becoming obsessed with learning more about harmony and composition, while Carlyon turned his hand to recording and production, and over time building his own professional home studio.
The pair became extremely proficient across a number of genres – Jazz, Funk, Blues, Ska Punk, but felt to often restrained by rules and unable to play with the kind of passion they knew they had to inject into their musical pursuits.
They decided to go back. Back to the music that got them off while skating through the streets of suburban Brisbane in the mid-90s. Back to the days where their scratchy Ramones and Dead Kennedys tapes jammed into boom boxes ruled in a world by the iPod. Back to what made them want to pick up guitars in the first place.
Enter drummer Mark Henman – a member of Resin Dogs and Afrodizziact who was filling in for a single show. Henman was playing hip hop most of the time, but he brought to it a very different perspective. His heart also lay with punk rock; the music of Green Day, Blink 182 and Rancid – and the breakneck drumming of Tre Cool, Travis Barker and Brett Reed. During soundcheck at this fateful gig, the three musicians casted aside the music they were intended to perform that night and fixated on a jam of Sepultura's Territory; the chemistry was awesome. They met up to jam the next week and the results were so promising that they had no interest in waiting around to get something on tape.
“We didn't care if it wasn't the most hi-fi sounding thing around, we were gonna do it as cheap as we could,” Carlyon says of that first session. He was about to set off for China and wanted something down before he left; a quick negotiation session with old friend Jeff Lovejoy ensued and the band, after promising $300 and loan of Carlyon’s recording gear, set up in Lovejoys garage and scattered throughout his house, eager to smash out this exciting new material. One long day there and a follow up session at Carlyon’s house birthed 14 tracks, five of which would end up on the band’s self-titled debut EP in 2008. It’s about as DIY as you can get.
Since then the band have let their music and incendiary live performances do the talking. They've been added to high rotation on triple j, they've played Homebake, they've supported everyone from Birds Of Tokyo to The Bronx to You Am I and have recently signed to Shock Records. And now they're ready to kick things up another gear with new single White Light, the first single from their forth-coming album due in May 2012. The song sees the band at their most mature, melodic and considered, but they're not straying from those roots which made them what they are. Hell, the song was even recorded in the very same house as Orr and Carlyon had their first practice as teenagers.
The band went into Lovejoy’s Blackbox Studios to record White Light, the same studio they recorded their debut LP Acquiring Satellites (2009) and its follow up EP Final Day (2010). But something wasn’t quite working with this song.
“The general consensus was that the Blackbox version of White Light lacked some of the spark and energy of the preproduction session at my place,” Carlyon explains. “So it turns out that not only was White Light entirely recorded at my place but the actual song you are hearing is the first ever rendition of the song… I mean we'd never even jammed it before! We just put it down for something to do – half an idea Dave had going on in his head – and he literally called all the changes as we went. It's the first and only take!” They captured the moment perfectly, and it couldn’t be topped.
Numbers Radio's key lies in their consolidation. They’re a punk rock band who don’t take themselves to seriously, sure, but one who know how to play. The energy with which they attack their brand of incredibly melodic hard rock is unstoppable, but the proficiency of their playing adds a whole new dimension. Their knowledge of such varied musical conventions is used to their advantage, they have the spirit of punks and the chops to make the music hit right where it ought to.
Punk rock means different things to different people. It’s about not obeying formulas, about questioning the preconceived notions of any given sound and any given scene, it’s about passion and it’s about being unique. Given their disparate musical backgrounds, Numbers Radio are as unique as they come.
Recent LIVE reviews…
“Numbers Radio demonstrate a Children Collide-esque ability to transform their uncomplicated power pop into something edgy and interesting in the live arena…. Numbers Radio represent some of the best elements from the new crop of Australian rock groups" Fasterlouder, VIC - Sept 2010
“Despite a small spot on the billing, they become the standout performer for the stage.' Time Off - July 2010
“The set’s closer 'Fire' is an absolute face-melter. This trio’s drive and eclectic show will arguably see them stand out from their fellow peers in the genre within the foreseeable future..” Fasterlouder, QLD - Sept 2010
“It's ballsy, it's pounding and it's a whole world of fun, and you really can't ask for much more. The trio invited the gradually-growing audience closer to the stage, and with each galloping rendition of full-speed alt-rock from both their debut album and their upcoming EP, the invitation was hard to refuse.” The Au Review – Sept 2010
“The Brisbane three-piece was a tight unit. There were shades of glam and plenty of Datsuns-styled high-octane guitar riffs and shuddering ryhthms to pack a real punch" Drum Media Syd - Sept 2010
FINAL DAY EP reviews…
"Wholly unpretentious and crunchingly aggressive, the Final Day EP is the next thrilling instalment in Numbers Radio’s ascent to Australian hard rock throne” Rave Magazine – Oct 2010
And here are some other kind words…
“I love the Blood Brothers vibe in the vocals. This track swings like a bunch of bananas. Go ape! I am.” Richard Kingsmill – triple j
“Snappy, dirty and with more than a little Mess Hall influence going on… this is a great song. The vocals lift the song from being too heavy/dirgy and there's a great energy to "Come On". Onya's.” Zan Rowe – triple j
“The debut ep from numbers radio is damn strong for this unsigned brisbane band, and this track is a standout from it. it keeps building up and up and the vocal hook is a killer - turn it up!” Nick Findlay – triple j
“If you like the songs, buy the album – it has great fifties-style sci-fi artwork and with more play money behind them, they could overthrow Children Collide as Australia’s best power trio.” whothehell.net
“Watch this space as Numbers Radio are definitely on the rise.” theDwarf.com.au
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