I grew up listening to college radio. From reggae to radio skits, my local stations always played things I had never heard, and that I never would have on commercial radio. When I was in middle school, I experimented by listening to a Top 40 station for a week, and heard the same 7 teeny-angst anthems over and over and over. Some people joke about how stations like these have a super-short playlist that they use constantly, and at the end of that formative week, I became convinced that corporate radio is a mind-numbing tool to keep us down. I switched the dial on my boom box and resolved to keep community radio thriving.
Community radio is like an aural public library where all the authors, illustrators, journalists, and scientists are reading aloud to you. I believe in alternative news sources, in underground music, in audio grassroots. Public radio is a stellar platform for social justice [if you haven’t heard of the Prometheus Radio Project you should absolutely check it out], a powerful tool for inciting positive change. For all y’all who are moved by music and spoken word, put that passion on the airwaves and help bring that power to the people.
Sam Cook-Parrott’s charmingly ramshackle guitar-pop provides an excellent soundtrack for driving fast, windows-down, through some anonymous sunny stretch of freeway. Unfortunately, I don’t have a car and I’m stuck in an office, so his music, under the name Radiator Hospital, instead provides a soundtrack for mindless data entry. We can’t always get what we want.
I sat down (in front of a computer) with Sam Cook-Parrott (who was in front of a different computer) to learn a little more about his project.
If you could play bocce ball and sip lemonade with any musician—any—who would it be and why? Mind the context.
Prince. Or Chris Knox from Tall Dwarfs.
You wrote that your song The Great Escape is about“getting so lost in movies and records and books and tv that you wake up one day and realize you let your life pass you by.” Was there a particular moment that caused you to Wake Up? What was it?
I don’t really think I have. But the song came to me in the fall. I wanted to go see “Skyfall” the James Bond movie, but I got to the theatre and it was sold out so I went and saw the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington instead. When I got out of the movie I still really wanted to see “Skyfall” so I checked the showings and there was still one that night so I got a ticket. I wrote the majority of the song at the theatre between the 2 movies.
What was the first R-Rated movie you ever saw? Was the viewing facilitated by your parents?
I think it was probably “Speed.” My parents were around and OK’d it but they weren’t watching it I don’t think.
You wrote that your Dad’s record-collecting habits were instrumental to your musical development. What music did you grow up around? Any artists in particular?
All kinds of stuff, anything from early rock ‘n’ roll to girl groups and doo wop to new wave and punk. Notable faves me and my dad share are Elvises Costello and Presley, the Clash, and Prince.
Which band(s) helped you survive middle school?
Lots of different bands, of particular note Weezer’s “Pinkerton.”
Which band(s) are helping you survive the now?
Lots of different bands, been really into Velvet Crush and Teenage Fanclub.
On your blog you mention that you spend a lot of time trying to get lost books/movies/etc., and that this record serves as an homage to the worlds that you get lost within. Which media—books, music, comics, video games—provides the best (or easiest) escape? Why? Any titles in particular?
That depends I guess. Everyone is different. For me it’s movies. I romanticize the movie theatre a bit too much. I’m sort of like Mia Farrow in “Purple Rose Of Cairo.” Music too though obviously, whether playing my own music or listening to records and being at a show.
Because of repairs to station equipment, WOBC will be off the air for the remainder of this week – with luck, we’ll be back some time next week. Being an independent community radio station means that when something breaks… we’re the ones who repair it! A crucial part of our mixing board (see above) unfortunately broke, and we’re going to have to take some time off to fix it. With the help of our wonderful engineers, we’ll be surveying the damage, ordering new parts, fixing what needs fixing, and before you know it, Oberlin freeform radio will live again!
Radio Bruxxsel, which airs every Friday at 8AM this summer, brings a multilingual mix of the fun and familiar from far away places. An homage to the trilingual and fun-loving kingdom of Belgium, we play retro, indie rock, nordic pop, french new wave, tropical beats, 80s & 90s dance, german synth, random selections from around Europe and beyond, in as many languages as possible.
We take our inspiration from Brussels, Belgium’s officially bilingual capital. Also the seat of the European Union, you can hear all the languages of Europe in its de-facto capital city. Brussels is also home to immigrants from around the world, so it’s not unusual to hear people speaking in the tongues of Africa, South America and Asia. This polyglot mix has inspired us to produce a multilingual hour of music every week this summer on WOBC.
Your hosts DJs Marceleaux and Miguelito will be playin a special all-Belgian edition this Friday July 19 in honor of the Belgian National Holiday. Belgium, that little country wedged between the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, known worldwide for its beers, its fries, its waffles, and comic strip culture (think Smurfs, Tintin), has also produced an incredible amount of amazing music over the years. Some music you might even love and not know it’s Belgian. Technotronic and Jacques Brel come to mind. We will be playing a tiny selection of Belgian hits, in Dutch and French, the languages the majority of Belgians speak at home, but also in German, Spanish, and of course, in English, which many a Belgian artist make use of in their music. A set that will scream, Happy Birthday Belgium!