They formed before Space Invaders was released worldwide. They formed before Freddie Mercury passed away. And they formed before Walkmans went on sale. The Radiators have been around longer than most bands, so we caught up with bass guitarist Geoff Turner to learn how the band dynamic has changed over the years and what to expect when they take to the stage for this weekend’s Townsville Rock Fest.
You’ve been on the road a bit lately! How have the gigs been?
Yeah really good! We’ve had so many good ones, that I can’t even remember the last dud!
How long has it been since you last stopped in North Queensland?
It feels like about two years since we were up there for something in Charters Towers – which you obviously have to land in Townsville first for! We love Townsville, it’s such a beautiful place. I have a few friends up there and we always have a great time – especially in winter, it’s fantastic weather and can’t believe everyone’s in shorts and thongs while we’re freezing our butts off in Sydney! You’ve got it made up there, people are lucky.
For those that haven’t been to a Radiators gig before, what should they expect next weekend?
Expect a slice of the 80s! We’ll be bringing the high energy we’ve always had, not too much flab. We’ve got a pretty balanced show featuring songs off many of our albums from the 80s that we concentrate on which are our bread-and-butter songs, and people want to hear them. So it’s really an authentic slice of the 80s.
You guys are approaching 40 years as a band now, how does that feel?
Where’s all the time gone?! We just celebrated our 39th last month and are thinking of doing something special for the big one next year, but will just cruise on I guess. It’s just gone that quick, we’ve never really had a break of a few weeks over all that time; we’ve been constantly touring, and the most time we had off-stage was when we were in the studio for weeks on end. But that’s how we like it, we love the travel now – except we don’t so much like jumping in Taragos these days! We tend to try and fly, dropping in and out everywhere.
Have you seen the music around you evolve over time?
It certainly has! Especially from the early 80s, it was very much a life back then prior to social media. You had to really go out and experience music, with pubs on every corner having different bands any night of the week. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, you’d still have plenty of gigs. Whereas these days, you’ve got this limited number of venues actually putting up live music, and seeing it evolve into dance – which we have seen from early on with the Bee Gees and that craze going on very much when we started as well. Dance has evolved and become a giant by itself, and is cutting into rock n’ roll numbers a bit because young people tend to go for that dancier stuff. There was a whole Seattle Grunge thing in the 90s, there was rap, and all these others in between, so we’ll just keep on keeping on.
Has it affected your music or writing style?
We did a bit of rap in one of our songs, Hard Core Love, obviously influenced by that rap phase, but it hasn’t affected us that much, we just stick with what we’re good at.
You guys have been together for quite a while without many band members come and go – how do you survive long tours without getting sick of each other?
We get along well, and like the same sort of things. We know when to give each other space as well, which I think is the key to it all. Don’t get in each other’s pockets, pick the mood, when to tread lightly, and things like that. It’s a bit like a marriage I guess, except we get to divorce every week or when we come off tour. I think we give each other space when we go our separate ways – we all live a fair way apart around Sydney, from the mountains to the ocean. So we only get together for gigs and rehearsals, and is a great vibe like being on a footy team. I think it has that big mentality of being in that sort of environment where we’re always aiming to go out and win by as many points as we can.
Do you see things slowing down anytime soon, or are there another few decades left in the Rads?
We never thought we’d go this far: back in the 80s, we were pretty excited to just get from one Saturday to the next! Things just kicked on, the gigs kept coming. While the people keep booking us and we keep enjoying it, we’ll keep powering on. Look at the Rolling Stones: they keep going because they want to, they enjoy playing music and while they’re still the oldest band in the world we feel like spring chickens. They set the example that you’re never too old to rock n’ roll and it’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s true! We enjoy it, and I guess once you can’t physically stand up anymore we don’t want to be wheeled out for a gig so will think of maybe pulling the plug then.
Do you have many new songs in the works?
Yeah we do actually! We’ve got quite a few things we’re mucking around with at the moment, but have been a bit lazy just throwing things together. There hasn’t been anything where someone says we have to do an album, but keep getting pressure from the bands that support us so are actually working on it now. We throw a few things into our set from the 90s and early 00s just to keep it interesting, but the bulk of the set is the best of albums from the 80s and the sprinkling of the odd rare one and new one. We try and give people what they want, which is the songs they know and the new ones they haven’t heard before.
Catch Mental as Anything, The Radiators, The Nu Black, and local support acts at the Townsville Rock Fest, Murray Sporting Complex, this Saturday 14 October. Click here for tickets.