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Anthony Roman (bass, lead vocals), Tommy Williams (guitar, vocals) and Greg Collins (drums) were all refugees from the Long Island hardcore scene, eager to expand their musical horizons yet uninspired by the indie rock of the time. They instead explored the period of unprecedented experimentation that had immediately followed the late 70s punk explosion, and named themselves after a Public Image song as a signal of their broad-minded approach.
Roman recalls their thinking: "'Let's do something that's got a rhythm, and got a pulse to it'. We were all really into Gang of Four and Wire and scratchy guitar. We wanted to be as minimal as possible, and we wanted to do something that couldn't be perceived as indie rock."
This, Radio 4 achieved with their debut album The New Song And Dance, produced by Tim O'Heir and released on Gern Blandsten Records in 2000. The world did not sit up and take notice, but the trio began hanging out in New York City dance clubs, where they met other musicians, DJs, promoters and music fans all similarly frustrated by indie rock's sense of self-importance and its aversion to groove. And Roman opened a small record store in his Brooklyn neighborhood (Somethin' Else), where he sold dub reggae, post-punk, the latest British bands, and newest New York acts. Next door was a cafŽ run by a former ska musician with a love for house and techno. As the music from the two stores seeped through the thin walls, it blended into one. And it was a revelation.
The second record was "Gotham!", aptly described by allmusic.com as "half political rally, half dance party." But it was much more than that. It was the sound of a chaotic city at the start of a new Century. And, though of course none of them knew it while recording through the summer of 2001, a city on the verge of a calamity.
In the wake of 9/11, everything about Gotham! - from album title down to songs like "Save Your City" and "Our Town" - took on a secondary meaning. None of which altered its core appeal as an angry rock record that wasn't scared to groove. In this sense, it was ideally timed. As the city's economy collapsed, the bars and clubs were vacated of Cosmo-swilling dot.commers and rejuvenated by a new generation: The Rapture, Interpol, !!!, The Strokes, Outhud, Ted Leo, Le Tigre, The Rogers Sisters· Radio 4 have no problems giving props to their peers. "Most of my favorite bands right now are from New York," says Roman. "We come from a community of bands, and that's something to be proud of."
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