Thursday, November 08, 2012
A Radio party
Roanoke band My Radio has a new CD, and will celebrate it on Saturday at Kirk Avenue Music Hall
Courtesy Brett Winter Lemon
- With My Radio | Streaming music from new album “Starts in the East Falls in the West” — “Something New,” “Aliens,” “Life is a Bitch Slap.”
Roanoke band My Radio has "Yeah Yeah Yeah" to thank for "Life is a Bitch Slap."
They're both My Radio songs. The first one became a sensation for the band, winding up in the soundtrack for the movie "The Joneses" and the Showtime program "Homeland."
These days, getting "placement" for your songs is where the real money is, and that was the goal for the band's founders, frontman/keyboardist J.P. Powell and drummer Hunter Johnson.
And sure enough, there was plenty of money in that song - enough to pay for the band's new album, "Starts in the East Falls in the West," and to pay promoters to pitch the new disc's single, "Life is a Bitch Slap."
The band celebrates the album's upcoming release in a Saturday night show at Kirk Avenue Music Hall.
The song is already out there, part of College Music Journal's November Mixtape (find it at cmj.com/mixtape).
During a sitdown last week at Powell and Johnson's downtown Roanoke restaurant, Lucky, they talked about the genesis of "Bitch Slap." Turns out, it's about as entertaining as the song itself.
A dude named Bleu
With their earnings from "Yeah Yeah Yeah," the band was able to record both in Boston and Los Angeles, and to write with different people. Powell used to play in a band with one of those co-writers, Bleu McAuley. And McAuley will be among the Saturday show's opening acts.
Though McAuley's own music didn't hit the top, he has since become an in-demand songwriter and producer for a diverse list of performers including Tristan Prettyman, Meat Loaf, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers. Those kid-friendly credits apparently mask the soul of a rogue.
"I love Bleu," Powell said. "He's got a really good heart, but he can be kind of an a------, actually. When I was in his band, we were signed to Columbia. â? The bass player has punched him. I've seen him get punched on the street before."
One night, when the band was working in Los Angeles, Powell, McAuley and some other friends were drinking al fresco on the Sunset Strip. A drunken, obnoxious woman walked up and told the group that it was her birthday, asked for a cigarette and asked the group to guess her age.
Powell, being nice, politely guessed 27.
"She starts walking down the sidewalk," Powell remembered. "She got maybe 15 feet away, and then Bleu's like, 'Naw, I'd say more like 42.'"
She answered with a curse and walked away, only to return a few minutes later and ask again. His answer inspired her to slap and taunt him.
"You could hear it down the street," Powell said. "It was so funny that we all just kind of collapsed and started laughing. â? So I think I coined at that moment 'life is a bitch slap.'
"He was like, we're writing that song tomorrow. We've got to call it that. It's going to be about that."
That piece of early '80s throwback songcraft is part of a multifaceted record full of catchy tunes and great ensemble playing.
The disc is scheduled for release on Nov. 27, but the band will be selling advance copies at Kirk Avenue and at other stops on a short tour to promote it. Those stops include Iota Club & Cafe in Arlington and Arlene's Grocery in New York.
My Radio CD Release Party
With Bleu, Air Traffic Controller
When: 8 p. m.
Where: Kirk Avenue Music Hall, Roanoke
How much: $15
Go to this story at roanoke.com/entertainment or blogs.roanoke.com/cutnscratch to hear a podcast with My Radio’s J.P. Powell, Hunter Johnson and Jeff Hofmann. We stream music from new album “Starts in the East Falls in the West” — “Something New,” “Aliens,” “Life is a Bitch Slap.”