My first introduction to Radiator Hospital back in 2014 through their song Cut Your Bangs. Since then Radiator Hospital has been one of my favorite bands, and one of my dream interviews. WELL GUESS WHAT? I guess you don't have to guess because you're reading this, but I finally got the opportunity to interview Sam Cook- Parrot of Radiator Hospital. Last year frontman Sam Cook-Parrott released his EP New Depression, which marked Radiator Hospital's first release since their 2019 album Sings Music For Daydreaming. We had the opportunity to talk to Sam about Radiator Hospital's beginnings, the latest EP, and the comedic stylings of Fozzie Bear. Check it out!
1. Which standup comedian do you think would enjoy your music the most?
2. Any podcast recommendations?
I don't listen to a ton of podcasts but some I like lately are Trillbilly Workers Party, Under The First Floor, Louder Than A Riot, On The Media.
3. What music have you been listening to lately?
Currently have a Fripp & Eno bootleg live LP on my turntable.
4. What are you most looking forward to right now?
Receiving a package of some video tapes I won on ebay: Psycho 1-3.
5. If you had to start a band with 3 fictional characters, who would you choose?
Snake Plissken, Leather Tuscadero, Animal (muppets drummer)
6. What game show do you think you’d do well on?
I'm a big Jeopardy fan though I don't know if I'd actually do well on it. Maybe Name That Tune.
7. Worst piece of advice that you can give me?
Make it a double.
8. First concert you ever attended?
Ricky Martin with Jessica Simpson opening.
9. Any advice on relocating baby ducks?
Leave it to the professionals
10. Any Philly bands that you think everyone should check out?
Pinkwash, Empath, Moor Mother, Corey Flood, The Goodbye Party, TVO, probly a lot more!
Can you introduce yourself for those who may not be familiar with you?
My name is Sam Cook-Parrott of the band Radiator Hospital :)
What first sparked your interest in making music?
Probably wanting to see bands without having to pay.
How did that interest in music eventually turn into Radiator Hospital?
I've always loved songs and music, so I basically learned how to play enough guitar to write my own and have been figuring it out ever since!
You started off in Grand Rapids, and are now based out of Philly. Great bands have come out of both cities! Is there a big difference between both music scenes?
Philly being a bigger city means there is more variety and a bigger scene I guess. But I truly love both places and the different energies of both :)
The first song of yours I heard was Cut Your Bangs back in 2014. Can you talk to us about the story or inspiration behind that song?
I remember being on a trolley home from seeing a movie and the idea popped in my head and I had to keep humming it until I got home. At the time I was deep into a productive period of working out songs on my 4-track and just kind of let it out. I could explain more but the song kinda spells it out :)
You’ve been active in music for a while now, what have you learned along the way that you wish you would’ve known when you first started out?
Hhhhmmmm good question. I guess that you can't always guarantee the folks will hear the music the same way you do.
Talk to us about your latest release New Depression
I recorded it in mid-March, after things were pretty shut down but I still felt comfortable going into my buddy's studio. I played everything myself and recorded it in a day. I initially did it to take advantage of the first "bandcamp friday." And then eventually put it up on other streaming stuff.
Was there anything specific that inspired the EP?
Not really other than they were the songs I had kickin around and I thought they went nice together and I could record 'em in a day :)
Do you have any favorite set of lyrics from New Depression?
I like the song "ABC Blues" which is broadly about educating yourself and not believing everything you hear.
It’s been cool to hear the evolution of your sound throughout your discography. I think that especially your last album and your latest EP seem a bit more introspective. Was finding a different sound something intentional that you had in mind while creating this EP, or just something that progressed naturally?
I generally kind of swing back and forth between wanting to do full band stuff and more quiet stuff. After we did our album "Play The Songs You Like" which was done very collaboratively with my band, I wanted to do something different with the next record. The EP ended up being solo more out of circumstance, had it not been for covid I probly wouldn't have put out those songs and they would have gone toward a more full band thing.
What is the fastest you’ve written a song?
Probly about as long as it takes to hear one
Is there anything that you like to do when you feel stuck or have writers block?
Go for a walk or watch a movie or just do something else! I don't like to force it. Though sometimes there is value in working though it. I'm also a fan of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies cards.
Do you have a favorite part of the music making process?
Recording is definitely my favorite, to the point where most of the time I only write so that I can record. I love playing live and miss it currently and am excited to someday do it again :)
What is the most important thing to you when it comes to making a song?
Getting to the point
What is it that motivates you the most to keep creating music?
I'm not totally sure! Lately I haven't been making a ton and I think it's because I really miss the greater music ecosystem. I've been focusing on other art practices and taking the time the universe has given me away from music. But I think in general, I never have really felt like I got it right, you know? Like the song in my head has never really come out exactly right so I think I'll keep trying...
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t pursuing music?
Rumor has it that you once gave a customer a cappuccino without any latte art. Would you like to address those rumors?
I am a better singer than I am barista and I will never deny that.
What has been the wildest or weirdest thing you’ve seen while performing?
Once we played in a packed driveway in LA. People were crowdsurfing and I was very stoned and freaked out and said into the mic "NO MORE SKY PEOPLE" which my bandmates still make fun of me about. But it freaked me out they were flying through the sky!! I do love when the bar has a TV and I can watch a movie while I play.
What has been your favorite accomplishment in music so far?
Putting out an LP was about all I 'd ever dreamed of, I coulda quit right then and been happy. Every day I get to sing another song is an accomplishment.
What can we expect to see/hear from radiator hospital in the near future?
Probably not anything for awhile! I don't think i'll put out much more solo music any time soon, and we haven't played as a band since last February. Once this pandemic eases up I'd imagine we'll start easin' into makin our music again. I'm excited to rock again one day.
To wrap things up, is there anything that you want our readers to know?
All cops are bastards, go donate to your local mutual aid group!