It’s a truly rare occasion when a debut by a band is met with the kind of feverish fan anticipation that has encircled LUCKY STREET, the full-length debut by Tallahassee, Florida melodic rockers GO RADIO. But then again, none of those other groups have JASON LANCASTER at the helm.
The GO RADIO singer/songwriter, who’s been crafting unflinchingly honest, breathtakingly beautiful music since venturing out on his own in 2007, boasts arguably the most goosebump-inducing combination of raw vocal talent and songwriting prowess in rock today. Backed by a gifted band with two stellar EPs under their belts, LANCASTER and GO RADIO are only just beginning to explore the seemingly endless potential for their mind-blowing creations.
The band--which also includes bassist MATT “BURNS” POULOS, drummer STEVEN KOPACZ and guitarist ALEX REED--immediately turned heads with the release of their self-released EP Welcome To Life in 2008, which bowled over listeners with its poignant, heartfelt lyrics and irresistible melodies. Attracting the attention of Fearless Records, the band inked a deal with the label, releasing the band’s second EP, Do Overs And Second Chances, in 2010. The EP, which featured the stunning ballad “Goodnight Moon,” landed at #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, going on to sell more than 15,000 copies in the U.S. In that span the group has toured extensively, heading out on high-profile runs with A Day To Remember, Secondhand Serenade and the Fearless Friends Tour with Mayday Parade among others. Despite the early success, 2011 promises to be the band’s most pivotal moment to date.
Tapping the legendary Tim O’Heir (The All-American Rejects, Hot Rod Circuit, The Starting Line, Say Anything) to man the console for LUCKY STREET, the 13 tracks showcases the producer’s knack for crafting inherently addicting ear candy. The production, and the awe-inspiring musicianship underpinning the songs, serves as an unmatched springboard for LANCASTER’s impassioned writing, which he says has taken on even greater personal and philosophical significance this time around.
“This record spans the last four years of my life. It’s really about growing up,” says LANCASTER. “I'm 27 years old now, and I've written so many songs about girls, so we collected ourselves to talk about bigger things in life that are important to everyone. There are songs on LUCKY STREET about religion, lack of religion, lack of faith, birth and death. It's really a wide spectrum of topics.”
One of the album’s sheer epiphanies comes at the outset, with the epic title track “Lucky Street.” Over a dense cloud of swirling overdriven guitars and pulsing rhythms, LANCASTER shares a surreal, apocalyptic vision on a Manhattan street, where in the face of imminent destruction the true questions of life, death and regret demand answering. Although the song was written a year ago, the band believes that only now can such a sweeping work be given proper treatment.
“It's about a dream I had: I was in New York City, on LUCKY STREET, watching the end of the world. It was such a vivid, colorful dream that I got up the next morning and wrote the story, and when we got home from tour and I started looking back on it, I wrote the song,” shares LANCASTER. “We all felt like the end of the world was kind of a heavy topic for our band at the time, so we decided to shelve it. We weren't ready to give it justice, so we wanted to wait until we really could.”
Mortality is not an unknown theme in GO RADIO’s music--the passing of LANCASTER’s father in August 2007 has inspired some of his most heart-rending compositions. But on LUCKY STREET the songwriter expands his scope on the subject with brilliant results, as on “Singing With The King,” which even goes on in its second verse to compile an “all-star band” in heaven complete with friends, family and long-lost legends Elvis, Johnny Cash, Keith Moon and Freddie Mercury. “It's about being okay with dying--just realizing that we're here, and if I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die,” says LANCASTER. “But if I'm going to be here, I might as well live like it's the last day. A lot of people say that, but it really is about the realization that you have to do that. We thought less of it as a morbid theme, and embraced the song as more of an anthem.”
Fans will also recognize a re-recorded version of “Forever My Father,” the tearful ballad that closed the Welcome To Life EP. Penned and recorded along with LANCASTER’s siblings Erin and Daniel shortly after their father’s passing, it’s one of the most personal, emotionally vulnerable works ever recorded in popular music.
“After my dad passed, my brother, sister and I were at the viewing after everyone left, in this funeral home. My dad was in the middle of the room and pianos were on either side of him; my sister's an amazing pianist, and all three of us sing, so she sat down at one piano, and I sat down at the other. We started playing back and forth, and it just felt right,” says LANCASTER. “He was a musician as well, so it was like all of us were there, together.” Jason’s sister Erin’s and brother Daniel are featured on “Forever My Father.”
Inspired by the moment and desiring to leave a copy of the song with his father before his burial, LANCASTER enlisted a friend with a recording studio to help track the composition immediately, resulting in the stirring performance heard on Welcome To Life. Approaching the song again for LUCKY STREET, LANCASTER says GO RADIO attempted to focus on the heart of the composition, instead of bogging the meaning down in heavy production gloss and arrangements.
“It was an emotional song and an emotional experience, and I feel like that came through on the first recording, but we wanted to try and make sure it was there on the second one as well,” says LANCASTER. “It was about trying to keep it down and keep it to the essentials, so the piano's still driving it, and it's all about the emotion in the song as opposed to the instrumentation.” It’s this kind of passion and dedication to the music that makes GO RADIO, and LUCKY STREET, so welcome in modern music. ??Known for their kinetic live performances and intimate interaction with fans, a packed slate of touring in support of LUCKY STREET--including a full run on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour--is the other crucial ingredient in bringing such vital art to the masses. GO RADIO aim to recruit a bonafide army of listeners, from multiple genres, as diverse as the band’s inimitable sound.
“We constantly put ourselves out there. Any chance we get to reach a new audience and get new ears, we're down for. We're not going to say, 'Because you like breakdowns, you're not gonna like GO RADIO,' because you might,” says LANCASTER. “That's how you build these things--one fan at a time, brick by brick. If it weren't for everybody latching onto the band and finding something they enjoy about it, I'd still be playing acoustic guitar in my den right now.”