Radius and Helena
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Radius and Helena

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
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Toronto art-rockers Radius & Helena are getting ready to release their follow-up to 2008's Precious Metals. FANGS is set to be released in late April 2013 featuring the "new wave opera meets space opera" sound they are known for. Exclaim! TV caught up with them in their practice space to film their performance of "Science Fiction."

Radius & Helena are known for their theatrical live shows, but Exclaim! got a look at their more subdued side during this performance. Watch Radius & Helena's live performance of "Science Fiction" below.

No tour dates have been released yet, but in you can check out "Science Fiction" along with two other tracks that will appear on FANGS, here. - Exclaim! TV


Theatrical art-rockers Radius and Helena have finally released a three-song teaser to preview some new sonic flavours from their upcoming follow-up to 2008's Precious Metals.

Fangs, the first of two LPs scheduled for release in 2013, should be out in the early spring. In the meantime, below you can stream the ominous and epic space rock track "Science Fiction," as well as new tracks "Mexican Wrestlers" and "The Wizard of Linn," via the band's Bandcamp.

If you're in Toronto, catch Radius and Helena opening for like-minded progressive Canadian rockers Malajube on November 24 at the Horseshoe Tavern. - Exclaim!


Welcome to a prog'd-out cabaret of beauty and fury. That was a great set at Centuries Lounge. An innovative, fearless musical path of the natural order in our own backyard. A juxtoposition of influences and pulling it off with dynamic flair. Brit-inflected hypnotic art-rock, pyrotechnic-drumming, and a supercharged frontman weaving a spell. Genre-bending music as an art-form underscored by a fluency to push the rock idiom to it's limits. RAH are bohemoth of a band guaranteed to whip you into a positive frenzy. - Lonely Vagabond


This is how you seize and keep an audience's attention. Drawn in from outdoors by the opening squall of Radius and Helena's crushing 3:00 a.m. set, the lingering crowd seemed to know they were in for something special. Decked out in ambiguously gory zombie or car crash victim make-up, the band's sense of shoestring theatricality was appreciated. It helps that the group were utterly fucking awesome, channelling the controlled noise chaos and epic guitar jams of Sonic Youth, but creating an extended sense of gothic menace successfully navigating the terrain between mysterious and cheesy. Totally worth the 4:30 a.m. cab ride home. - Exclaim!


There’s an old joke, that says that people who go to Art School usually end up in a band, or on the dole queue. Good thing for Steve Kwok, Ryan Fairley, Denise Sumandl and Christopher Felske they chose the first option. With a name paying homage to the play R.U.R, and a self-described sound that is a “musical representation of science fiction” Precious Metals is a musical experiment that does not fail to entertain from start to finish. Sounding like a mix of Surf Rock, Hip-Hop, 60’s Garage Rock, Psychedelic, Punk, and Experimental and dealing with a multitude of social and technological, and social/technological issues. Radius & Helena have put out an album that is beautiful not only in concept, but also execution, and design. -Shawn Alexander Roy - Fazer Music Magazine


Toronto’s Radius & Helena are off to a good start on this generally engaging debut.

Their blend of atmospheric sounds, frenetic drumbeats and Thom Yorke-like vocals is a nice change from some of the more straightforward indie rock coming out of this city, but as with a lot of decent debuts, there’s still plenty of work to do.
Their strength is in their upbeat numbers. City Of Fingers’ fist-pumping riffs are the best part of the disc, but The Thin Man’s quieter, sleepy sounds are too dreamy for their own good.

There’s definite potential here, so don’t let this foursome too far out of your sight. NNN

-Bryan Borzykowski - Now Magazine


Radius & Helena frontman Christopher Felske sounds like the abandoned lovechild of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. That may seem like an earsore on paper but, strangely, on record the combination of mournful mewls and winsome melodies really works. On their debut LP Precious Metals, these Toronto psych-pop songsmiths have carved out a sound for themselves that’s both cacophonous and euphonious. The songs here ceaselessly shapeshift between delicate atmospherics, upbeat dance interludes and vitriolic, off-metre riff eruptions. Never coming off as hackish, these are well-crafted, organic tunes. ALEX NINO GHECIU - Eye Weekly


This is how you seize and keep an audience's attention. Drawn in from outdoors by the opening squall of Radius and Helena's crushing 3:00 a.m. set, the lingering crowd seemed to know they were in for something special. Decked out in ambiguously gory zombie or car crash victim make-up, the band's sense of shoestring theatricality was appreciated. It helps that the group were utterly fucking awesome, chanelling the controlled noise chaos and epic guitar jams of Sonic Youth, but creating an extended sense of gothic menace successfully navigating the terrain between mysterious and cheesy. Totally worth the 4:30 a.m. cab ride home. SCOTT A. GRAY - EXCLAIM! magazine


For example, [music] can be as grandly ambitious as it is on Radius and Helena's debut, Precious Metals.

Of course, as is the case with a lot of extremely ambitious projects, at times the band doesn't quite hit their marks, and the results are less-than-great, particularly around the album's beginning. But as Precious Metals progresses, Radius and Helena really start to sound compelling, hitting their stride around the third track, the Radiohead-goes-stadium-ready-prog of "City Fingers" and continuing on in that vein for the rest of the way. They pull it off so well that, near the album's end, things are going so well that they're even able to throw a Cobain-esque bit of yelling in at the end of "T-Shirt Brigade" and not sound any the worse for it. Precious Metals can be a challenging album at first, to be sure, but it's definitely one that will be rewarding if you give it enough time. MATTHEW - i (heart) music


When I fist saw you guys live, I noticed how seemingly different you all were from each other; there wasn’t a band uniform, you all have your own style, and ostensibly different backgrounds and musical influences. How did you, as such a diverse group, meet and come to work together?
Radius and Helena was conceived in the ash and vomit of violent, creative force. There is nothing to which we will not argue, fight and maim over with painstaking detail. As such our origins are mundane compared to the epic struggle to which we throw ourselves daily. Having said that, we love each other very much. We have known each other for what seems like eons; we’ve forgotten how we met. Perhaps that is why we stay together.

How do the various musical influences of the band members affect the creative process? You hear of bands breaking up due to creative differences all the time, how do you make this work for you when it drives other group apart?
RAH tends to enjoy similar musical influences and tastes more so than it may seem. While each member is peculiar: Christopher has his videogame scores, Ryan his Sade, Denise her Metal, and Steve his Keith Moon, the essence of the whole is creative and cooperative. Each appreciates the others derangement and such individual penchants are encouraged. RAH enjoys its differences its oppositions and its idiosyncrasies, something other bands tend to shy away from. We welcome battles of intellect and musicality, especially when the outcomes are as rewarding as they have been. There have been such great spoils thus far.

One of the other things that struck me about you guys was the theatricality of your performances. Tell us a bit about that – are there reoccurring themes; why do you go the extra mile with the dressing up, the putting on of characters and all that?
RAH never really talked about having alter egos on stage, or alternate persona, but we all put on airs when we perform. We can’t help it. There’s a music that is making you do strange and unusual things seems right to be a little strange and unusual. We’ll do dress up when we want to pay homage, like silent film characters from the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or there were the Vikings that was for Denise, but I think the alter egos we create are benign for the most part. Something dark gets put out there when we perform, but it has no name, no Ziggy Stardust.

Speaking of theatrics, there was the video you guys made to promote your band of the month series at Velvet Underground in April. I remember watching that and wondering if the characters relate in any way to the band dynamic – what’s going on there? I take it you’re not all disappeared still?
The cinematic eye is very much a part of RAH. We all come from filmic backgrounds and these viral videos give us a chance to explore that. We also enjoy arts and crafts, which allow us to create something together outside of music. It’s all very tragic housewife of us.

Speaking of the Band of the Month thing, how was that? I mean, playing a show every Wednesday for a month in the same venue has got to be challenging and is certainly ambitious. What do you think about the experience; did it have some effect upon you as a band or as individual musicians?
The Band of the Month series was a great experience - we really hope Dan Burke keeps it up. It provided us with exposure to a variety of audiences and it crossed a lot of genre borders musically, which was nice.

So are you guys planning on releasing anything soon?
We have our upcoming full length entitled Precious Metals to birth into production this summer. As an opinionated, DIY outfit, we’ll be lucky if we can get it out by the fall… Check www.radiusandhelena.com or www.myspace.com/radiushelena for updates.

Any other interesting plans for the summer or goals you’ve set for yourselves? I’m almost expecting some sort of rock opera being in the works.
We’ll be showcasing this year’s NXNE festival back at the Velvet Underground on Sat. June 14th and that’s something we’re looking forward to. We also have several films in the works and a couple of music videos to run alongside the release of our upcoming full-length album.

So, I was close then. I love your artwork and graphics. Do you have a person (possibly one of you) who does this all?
RAH enjoys its graphic sense of self courtesy of many. Each of us has contributed artwork and criticism resulting in various paintings, our coat of arms, cd designs, posters, and lettering. Outside the band immediate, the preposterous Kerry Zentner has been a legendary illustrator of posters. We praise his talent.

Is that a caricature of a zombified Steve on the poster for the Band of the Month? What’s with the dark edge on your graphics – does this relate to the music?
The graphics employed can be allegorical in nature, we like to give people something to think with, and our work will always have the sobering crust of dark motifs. We aren’t very accustomed to the writing of happy things. Social satire is our grist of choice. We each have our own theories as to who the zombified character is but that’s all we’ll say on the matter. - Toronto Indie.com


*Hi Steve, would you like to introduce your band? Which one is Radius and
which is **Helena**?*

STEVE: Well the basics are: we're a four piece band and we all live together in our east end house with only occasional conflicts...
Radius and Helena are actually fictional characters from an old 1920's Czech play called R.U.R. (Rossum's Univeral Robots). It was the original "Man makes robots to alleviate his own burden of labour. Robots gain awareness and rebel against their makers." story. Radius was one of the original robots--designed only as a tool. His thinking patterns are very logical, mechanical and technical. Helena is a human character possessed of great compassion and personal insight.

CHRISTOPHER: I have officially laid claim to ‘Radius’ as of this interview on the grounds that I do most of the work. No one can match my tireless work ethic and so it is only fitting I be associated with a machine contrived to serve others. It is also in character that I resent such labor.
Is this something I have asked for you might think? Perhaps it is. My open readiness to coordinate, delegate, manage, operate, enforce, and devise makes me a slave to these very tasks. And perhaps most souring of all to me, is that I have somehow come to love such chores. I am plagued with feelings of jealousy and possession whenever someone else tries to help in these endeavors. In things as simple as a poster I have brooded and fumed for days, worried that others cannot possibly live up to my incomparable level of perfection. I have discovered hidden standards in myself regarding almost every outlet of Radius&Helena. And so I toil as much for them as I do for my own sense of self satisfaction. I think it has become rather obvious that I have asked for my bondage no?

*Your official website bio says that Radius and **Helena** are storytellers.
What are some of the stories your songs tell?*

RADIUS: We are a discord of ideas, competing ceaselessly. So the stories we tell are those opposing forces in earnest: How to destroy your love affair without even trying. What makes me need to act like my favourite celebrity? Why is it that when the shit hits the fan, you come to enjoy the company of people uglier than yourself? These songs are not conceived as straight narratives but more as dialogues in which there are many conflicting attitudes. We use Radius and Helena for these ends. If death is a metal sphere, who are you? If everyone who was ever hurt in a car called William Mattar, would we all get the money we so deserved? (“Hurt-in-a-car? Call-William-Mattar!” –no, please don’t.)

*Us Wavelengtheteers have been talking a lot about whether bands do or
should pursue things like money and fame. Where does Radius & Helena fall in
this timeless debate? Are you ambitious?*

RYAN: We are ambitious when it comes to our song writing. We’re always trying to come up with interesting ways to tell our stories, and we approach each song as if it was a little epic, always writing a bit beyond our reach. As for money and fame, I don’t think we’ve even factored that bit into our long term plans. To be honest we’re more concerned with finishing our first full length record.

*I think the video advertisement on your myspace website (
www.myspace.com/radiushelena) is a work of genius. Is the animation a
deliberate homage to Norman McLaren? *

RYAN: Three out of our four members come from an animation background, so when we were making the commercial the idea of animating a portion of it just seemed like the natural thing to do. We thought it might be neat to try and emulate some of those old animations you’d see on Sesame Street. The “Bee Bo Boo Beep” noises were definitely a nod to McLaren though.

RADIUS: Ryan is correct. The “Bee Bo Boo Beeps” are definitely homage.

*I like how it jumps suddenly from unedited "rough" video to the animated
commercial that was built out of that footage, and then jarringly back to
the rough footage. It plays with my expectations of what a "finished"
commercial should be. Who was involved in making that? Are the members of
Radius and **Helena** all arteests?*

RYAN: The commercial was filmed by me and Christopher, along with friends Irene and Noel. I’d say we all love making art. Be it, painting, film, music, or whatever. So I suppose you could call us “Arteeeestes” although that word sounds incredibly serious and French.

*What would you say you would like to accomplish at Wavelength on November 5th,
if asked?*

STEVE: I don't think our goal with Wavelength is much different than with other shows we play. We put a lot of effort and care into our songs and it's always nice for us when people can hear what we do--even nicer when people like what they hear.
- Wavelength


Indie Week: Friday Night Expository

Radius & Helena were a late edition to the bill, replacing the Costeau-core ramblings of Mind of a Squid. Now, I'm a huge mark for inter-gender bands but aside from that, R&H get brownie points for putting in the most original set of the evening. Within the traditional guitar/bass/drums contingent, they packed in lots of dissonance and atmospherics, growling and grinding but without losing sight of the hooks. Their singer was especially entertaining, falling to his knees and rolling around on the floor some. Nice! He also took to the crowd, distributing finger sandwiches while the R&H players went off on some dirge-y tangent. The building blocks are there. Radius & Helena are definitely a band to watch. Ok, I made up the part about the finger sandwiches. - Soul Shine Magazine- Cameron Gordon


HERE COME THE CYBORGS

"I read the review of another band's debut EP where the reviewer said that it was a typical debut album because all the songs sounded so different from one another, as if this was a flaw or something. I think that most of our songs sound pretty different, and I like that. If that means that we haven't found our sound yet, then I hope we never do."
Talking to Steve and Christopher from Toronto's Radius and Helena, you get the impression that they've been plotting this assault for years. They've got clear intentions with their music, and the entire band's art-school pedigree lends a sophistication to their "sci-fi indie rock" which, if faked, always comes off poorly, (how many times have you heard a band claim the Velvet Underground as their primary inspiration, but it turns out they just can't sing).
"We've known each other for a few years now. We met at Sheridan College, (we all come from art backgrounds). We played Toronto soon after that under the name Duke Highrise, which gave us some good experience. Radius and Helena then started up last spring. Since then we've recorded and released a three-song sampler and now we're trying to get our debut full-length together."
If Simply Saucer had had the melodies and harmonies of Sloan, they may have put out more than one album, and that kind of psychedelic art-pop is very much the territory of Radius & Helena. If they play their cards right, they could monopolize the genre all together.
"We play music for people with poor attention spans," claims Christopher. "Were coming from the post-modern era so we get our fingers into everything."
Steve elaborates: "Sonic Youth seems to come up a lot as a comparison, but I don't think it's a conscious influence. More conscious might be Blonde Redhead, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie, but even then I don't think that we really sound like any of them. We never try and write a song like someone else."
Veterans of the Toronto indie scene after a mere year together, Radius and Helena are ready to get out of the bars and onto some bigger stages. Or at least get off of Queen St. to play for some new folks, which is what brings them to the Circus Room on February 24th. They're gearing up for the Canadian Music Week showcase in just a couple of weeks, and they're dropping by to give us a teaser.
"I guess you can expect a whole lot of grappling with the volume. I mean, we're loud and that place is small, so there'll be some bleeding ears for sure. Other than that, you can expect the finest songs about waking up and needing to recieve programming from a celebrity you admire. It's our first outting to K-W, and we're all pretty jazzed 'cause we haven't played all winter and we're dying to let loose." - The Echo -Patrick Finch


Discography

"Radius & Helena" EP, 2004
Tracks:
1. Monday On The Wheels Of Steel
2. Slogger Onto Sixty
3. R.U.R.

"Precious Metals" LP 2008
Tracks:
1. What Gets In The Way Of Love
2. Clane
3. City of Fingers
4. The Thin Man
5. Commodre
6. T-Shirt Brigade
7. Double Dragon
8. Miami

Photos

Bio

When you’re forced to the edge, what do you see? Radius and Helena, a post-psychedelic five-piece from Toronto, have spent the last year and a half composing ‘FANGS,’ the soundtrack of their lives. Though it seems like the era of staying up all night painting together and listening to David Bowie, Motorhead or Pink Floyd, dancing to the Knife in the backyard, or throwing a Blonde Redhead album on while papier mache-ing animal masks is off in the distance, that time has made them a little more strange to each other, they’ve learned their truth: without the music, the edge will crumble beneath them. On the heels of a couple of bad breakups, sudden deaths in the family, and even broken bones, the band has grown together, shared tears, and reaffirmed that music is the only option for transcendance. In a stew of complicated emotions - guilt, heartbreak, doubt, and longing - Radius and Helena’s second album, ‘FANGS’, comes into being. The hypnotically experimental compositions and dark, synthy melodies are at times sweet and swoon-worthy; at other times, a more virulent storm breaks through; the duality of the music echoing the real life moments of calm vs. emergency that defines Radius and Helena.

Radius and Helena began as a music project of artists in 2004, with all the members contributing not only to writing music, but to costuming, video productions, posters, band photos, and even set design, quickly garnering a reputation as an art-rock band with an intense and ever-changing live performance, winning new audiences and playing with acts such as tUnE yArDs, Rural Alberta Advantage, Malajube and Scout Niblett. Their debut album, ‘Precious Metals’ (2008) was released to great critical acclaim, described as a bold, lush and thought-provoking sound that exclaim! Magazine calls “utterly fucking awesome.”