When Radioactivity’s debut album came out, fans of The Marked Men around the world rejoiced. The new group around Jeff Burke saw him teaming up once again with fellow Marked Man, Mark Ryan, and members of Bad Sports. Radioactivity’s follow-up, "Silent Kill", is officially out now on Dirtnap Records and while Burke will probably always be associated with The Marked Men, the new album goes a long way of establishing Radioactivity as a band that doesn't need Marked Men's legacy to be noticed. Read on to see what Jeff had to tell us.
PRT: You just released your second album called “Silent Kill”. We think it’s f*cking amazeballs. Yes, really. Amazeballs. How proud are you of the record?
Jeff: I’m pretty happy with it.
PRT: Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, is there anything about it that you would have done differently, already?
Jeff: I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist. I did record and rerecord many things on the album, but I think it’s more because I’m fairly indecisive. I never think anything is perfect and I am completely okay with that. I’m not really a fan of perfect when it comes to recording music. Perfect never sounds real. I don’t think I would do anything to change the record even if I could. It’ll be a long while before I go back and give it a listen since I spent more than enough time with the songs in the studio, but I’m satisfied enough with how things turned out.
PRT: There are quite some differences with the debut album. It feels a little darker, more emotionally charged and definitely even more diverse. What changed in the songwriting process?
Jeff: There was no intentional change in the songwriting process, but the songs were written at pretty different times. The environment I’m in and experiences seem to affect the way I write songs. The songs on the first album were all written around the same time and I always intended them to be released together. The second album was more pieced together with songs written at completely different times. I guess that makes some of the difference.
PRT: It also sounds “bigger”, almost “wall of sound”-like. Did you deliberately look for your inner Spector?
Jeff: I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy, but I did want the drums to sound bigger or punchier than they were on the first album. I think it fits these songs better. Also, no reverb was used on this recording or in mix-down so the Spector reference is an interesting one.
PRT: How important is it for you to have your own studio now?
Jeff: Very. I started recording at home when I was in high school and have been doing it continuously ever since, but having a space dedicated to recording makes a huge difference in my productivity. I can take more time with stuff and it’s easier to focus without any of the distractions that tempt me when recording in my living room. We have had other spaces in the past that were used as studios, but the one we have now is just a little nicer.
PRT: Does it change the approach to recording? You obviously have more time you can spend on any record.
Jeff: I try to change things up a little every time I record something, but when you are limited to one space it’s easier to know what works and what doesn’t in the room. So now we have a pretty set way we record drums in the room. When I record something in a house or different space, I’ll try to find the room with the best sound, but in the studio we have what we have. It simplifies that part of it a bit I suppose. Having more space to work with and more time to leave stuff set up changes the way we do things a little as well.
PRT: On the other hand, isn’t it a little annoying to know that you can always keep going back to the studio to make something even better?
Jeff: It can be. It can really lengthen the whole process if you’re working without a deadline.
PRT: You went on record somewhere saying that “Silent Kill” is a collection of songs you had laying around since before Japan, things you wrote in Japan and new stuff. How many gems like these do you still have left?
Jeff: I do have a lot of unreleased songs, but hopefully a lot of them will make it to record in the near future.
PRT: Here’s a little challenge: compare “Silent Kill” to “On The Outside”, The Marked Men’s second album.
Jeff: I’m not sure that I can make a good comparison. To me they’re very different. I only wrote/sang half of the songs in the Marked Men. Also, “On The Outside” was written and recorded more than 10 years ago - and I’ve changed a lot over the years - so even on a personal level I don’t feel much of a connection to those songs anymore. I’ll let the listener decide if they sound similar or not.
PRT: We had you over in Europe almost 2 years ago. Even before the first album came out.. Didn’t you think that was somewhat, ehm, weird, to not even have a band name and already get a tour booked overseas?
Jeff: Yeah, the album was supposed to get out quicker and it was a bit early to tour, but an opportunity showed itself so we took it. Luckily we got copies of the LP just in time. The tour went pretty well considering.
PRT: Does it bug you in any way that The Marked Men will always sort of “haunt” you, even though you (and other members) have a pretty impressive output of new material, both in numbers and quality?
Jeff: Not really. I think we’ve all just thought of the Marked Men as one of the bands we’ve had so it can be strange when people put so much focus on that one band. I’m happy so many people like the music we made as the Marked Men and it obviously has made it easier for us to get our name out there with our newer projects. The Radioactivity/Marked Men comparisons are also starting to decrease, so I don’t give it much thought anymore.
PRT: What’s up with this “two-album project” we’ve been reading about? Does this mean this will also be the last Radioactivity record?
Jeff: I doubt it will be our last record. When I first talked to our label, Dirtnap Records, I told them that I was hoping to release two albums fairly close together. I just didn’t make that happen as planned. Hopefully we’ll have new music in the near future.
PRT: Just out of curiosity: what are people drinking over there? OBN III’s, The Hex Dispensers, Bad Sports, you guys … All pretty damn cool garage-ish bands. Do you all have like, secret recipes for songwriting?
Jeff: It’s a good environment for music I guess.
PRT: Is there one song off of “Silent Kill” that you’d like to see soaring on the Billboard-charts and making you very rich?
Jeff: Nope. I’d rather get rich quietly.