Kevin Ridel, former front man of RIDEL HIGH and PEEL, sits in the driver’s seat of a car that slowly creeps towards the microphone at Astroburger. He doesn’t want anything. His passenger wants a veggie burger, no tomatoes. It’s hot. The AC doesn’t work. Popular music spills out of the radio and escapes out the window, mixing with the hum of passing cars and disappearing into the hazy Los Angeles afternoon. “Just as well,” he thinks, “this music is lame.” After two tries he orders the veggie burger and heads to the pick-up window. It comes with tomatoes.
Kevin turns to his right and asks, “why isn’t there anything good on the radio?” His passenger, an old friend from Connecticut, familiar with candlepin bowling and the strange misidentity associated with that state, shrugs as he picks out the slice of tomato and lays it on top of the side-view mirror. After a moment he responds, “have you tried AM?” Ruminations begin.
Calls were made. A few weeks later Joe Higgins dazzles the drum kit while guitarists Jason Moore and Rowan Robertson supply powerful backdrops to Kevin’s mellifluous vocals. Songs created on Ridel’s beat-up Washburn acoustic transform from simple melodies to full-blown rock songs dripping with texture and energy. Joe Barresi takes them into a studio and soon the band releases their self-titled indie debut; two thousand copies sold to date.
For months they support their music by playing an exhaustive schedule around the Los Angeles area, continually trying to and succeeding in connecting with the fans. Producer and Engineer Rod Cervera takes the band into the studio and records a batch of new material. The band decides to release it for free on their web site, www.amradioonline.com. The fans are happy.
In April 2002, just days before the band is set to embark on their first major piece of road work, Kevin calls Canada for a bass player. The city of Victoria sends Bryce Soderberg to LA. Kevin gives him a quick test: “Ryan or Bryan Adams?” Bryce answers quickly and cooly, “Ryan, of course.” He gets the job then pushes play on his portable CD player. “Cuts Like a Knife” enters his ears and he sports a satisfied grin. The Dusty West Tour, 13 cities in the US and Canada opening for WEEZER, goes incredibly well.
In June 2002, Rivers Cuomo signs them to his new record label. He also likes them on the road. AM RADIO opens for WEEZER in Japan on The World Cup Tour and subsequently headlines the second stage on The Enlightenment Tour. The fans continue to be happy.
Plans to release a full-length album in June 2003 are soon solidified. Elektra Records has agreed to provide the band with worldwide distribution. In the meantime AM RADIO continues its schedule of rehearsing, recording, playing live and getting to know their fans. Although they have only been together a year, the time spent on the road and working together has solidified the unit into one rocking outfit without a tinge of suck.
Tune in to AM RADIO (guaranteed no tomatoes); keep it on the up.