A look at Jeff Burke's Radioactivity before their Sunday debut at Strange Matter

Posted by: Amy – Jul 31, 2015


Despite now having two albums under their belt, Radioactivity still have some very big shoes to fill. Rising from the ashes of the acclaimed punk band The Marked Men, the Texas quartet was naturally going to have an uphill battle once they started. Thanks to the amazing musical mind of leader Jeff Burke though, the group has been able to carve their own unique sonic identity while still honoring the legacy of Burke's most famous band, making them a critical favorite that's accruing more and more fans with each show.

This Sunday will be the first time Jeff Burke plays a show of any kind in Richmond, something he was genuinely surprised by. "Yeah, Richmond's a great city for the scene," he gushed. "I really can't believe I've never played a show there." Burke's debut in Richmond has been a long time coming for fans who have followed his career from The Marked Men to The Red to The Novice and now to Radioactivity. The good news for those fans is that when Burke does finally debut in the city, it will behind a piece of work that may just be his best yet: Radioactivity's sophomore album, Silent Kill, that was released a little under a month ago on Dirtnap Records.

There's no specific gimmick to the record or some new approach Burke attempted. Instead, it's just a cohesive collection of punk songs that form a compelling and exciting album that's surprisingly refreshing considering the time Burke has under his belt as a punk rocker. "It's a pretty straight ahead punk record," Burke admitted, "but in the end, I think it turned out to be pretty cohesive. There's still a break here and there as far as tempo, but I was especially happy with the flow in general because it took me a while to figure out what songs were going to go on the record and in what order."

The record comes at perhaps one of the busiest points in Burke's career as the Texas native just recently built a recording studio along with bandmate Mark Ryan. "It's basically in the garage next to the place I live in," described Burke. "We spend a lot of time out there recording other bands and working on new stuff. Over the past year, it's where I've spent the majority of my time."

That constant attention to the studio is just one of the reasons you won't see Burke or Radioactivity on any crazy touring schedule anymore. "We can't tour very long at one time," Burke admitted. "This tour is two weeks and any two week tour is just perfect. I don't get tired or anything. Once it gets any longer than that, it can get a little old when you get to be the age that we're at now."

Trading road time for studio time though does seem to have its benefits. Not only are Burke and his cohorts working side by side with some of the best bands in the Austin and Dallas area, but they're also letting that time behind the scenes fuel the creative process. "It definitely helps us create songs," Burke revealed. "It could be anything from a guitar tone to the way someone uses an effects pedal. Every once in a while, I'll hear something and make a mental note, even if it's something like a good sounding cymbal crash. Something as simple as that will make me just want to start recording myself. It all adds to the musical vocabulary that we have and pull from when we start making music."

With the band winding down the hectic touring life that seems "normal" for so many bands of the same scene, their debut in Richmond has become this mega deal. Jeff Burke, hovering around the prime of his musical career, finally descends on our celebrated punk town after years and years of making his name across the country. On top of that, he's touring behind one of his strongest works to date, one that many publications are already calling the punk record of the year.

Yeah, if you fancy yourself a member of any type of punk rock scene, you better have an incredible excuse for missing this show. I know we won't be.

Radioactivity debut in Richmond this Sunday night at Strange Matter alongside Cloak/Dagger, Sundials, and Cherry Pits. For more information on the show and where to buy tickets, click here.

Words by Doug Nunnally