Radiator King’s A Hollow Triumph After All is at once celebratory & somber, deftly channeling the mood of a Crescent City second line, that holy brass-anchored yin-yang jazz-funeral tradition of New Orleans. A sacred and profound attempt to transcend pain, loss and suffering by celebrating a life well-lived, while at once acknowledging the darkly tragicomic Catch 22 of existence—that we’re born to die.
“We’re all down here together,” muses Adam Silvestri, the singer, songwriter and creative force behind Radiator King. “What connects us is the strife we share in struggle. It unites us, it makes us do wonderful things. There’s this proverb in Eastern philosophy—within crisis is opportunity. I very much believe that. I think that what people connect with in music often has to do with pain. So building this record around the idea of a New Orleans funeral procession—it’s about finding a way to overcome the pitfalls in life, to face them straight on and find the beauty in doing that. That’s what character is in my opinion. That’s what integrity is. Those moments of crisis are where we learn what we’re built of.”
A Hollow Triumph After All was recorded at NYC’s Vibromonk Studios by producer/engineer Jesse Cannon, and features an all-star cast of session players including drummer Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, NIN, Violent Femmes) and accordion player/keyboardist Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society). The bulk of the recordings were cut live to tape.
“When I was working on the demos for this album, I left a lot of room for interpretation,” Silvestri says. “I wanted people who would understand intuitively what I was going for, which is a tough thing, but Jesse helped me find the right people. Vibromonk is essentially a warehouse—just this big open space. I wanted to deal with raw emotion. For musicians to follow their instincts and impulses. The beautiful moments in recording are unplanned—when you lose yourself, and you’re just playing and having a dialogue with the people around you.”
Glide Magazine is proud to premiere “The Guns You Pawned” (below) off A Hollow Triumph After All, a murderous bluesy number that prevails with Silvestri’s toughened vocals. Radiator King sounds years beyond its age, a shady place where Tom Waits took us on his early LPs, where forthright and sharp lead the lyrical highway and there’s no sign of musical sugar coating.
“I got the imagery for this song from a job I recently had driving a woman around to pawn shops across the country- it was an odd job that paid well,” says Silvestri. “I spent a lot of time at pawn shops in low income neighborhoods from New York to California, and I found the whole concept fascinating. People handing over their possessions because there was something else of greater value to them at that specific time. In pawn shops, once a certain amount of time passes and you haven’t paid the fee on the item, it’s no longer yours. You’ve essentially given it up. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people do this in their lives. They give up on an innate spirit they held and then they go to great lengths to reconcile that abandonment. ”
“There’s anger in this song. It’s so damn tough to follow your intuition. Pressure and fear from all around cause us to second guess our inner voice, our gut, whatever you want to call it, and what we are left with is self-doubt,” adds Silvestri. “This song is about confrontingself-doubt. But most of all it’s about recognizing the importance of keeping on down that unknown road and to not be swayed by those who gave up on the battle and threw in the towel on a rainy day long ago.”