Betting On Themselves; An interview with Jim Suptic of Radar State

People create music and join bands for a multitude of, or a combination of, reasons. Some do it for the sheer challenge that comes from learning, composing and creating, some do it as an act of rebellion against or amidst outside catalysts, some for the attention of potential paramours, others in order to pursue fun and find commonality with their friends and fans. Kansas City’s Radar State, comprised of a quartet of individuals with a staggering indie rock pedigree, and who have perhaps made music at one time or another for any or all of these reasons, are in it this time for the later reason – for fun.

Comprised of Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids, the New Amsterdams), Adam Phillips (The Architects, The Gadjits), Josh Berwanger (The Anniversary, Berwanger) and Jim Suptic (The Get Up Kids, Blackpool Lights), Radar State serve up a guitar-driven, hook laden vintage pop-punk and rock inspired outfit that finds the group sharing vocal duties, creating a riotous racket, and enjoying the hell out of each other.

Earlier this year Radar State released a seven-inch featuring a trio of fast and furious tracks doing a handful of live dates, including Riot Fest, and working on material for an LP. In the immediate future the band has a run of dates with Say Anything (and a one-off headliner or two) on the books.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with vocalist/guitarist Suptic to discuss the group and their plans. This is what he told us.

Whose idea was Radar State? What was it about this project that made it a “must pursue” endeavor?

I think I had the initial idea. The Get Up Kids have been more of a part time band for quite a while and I really needed another creative outlet. I thought starting a fun punk rock band would be just that, fun. Josh, Matt and Adam agreed!

What are the most predominant aspects of your personal chemistry with other members that makes Radar State work?

I think the fact we are all fathers is important to the chemistry of the band. It helps make everything feel a little less serious, even though we are all serious about the band. We have all known each other for a long time, so getting along hasn’t really been an issue.

Is Radar State a passion project or do you expect it to become a full-time thing?

I don’t see it really ever being a full time thing. We all have other projects, jobs, and responsibilities. That said, we are going to try to work as much as we can, and tour when we can. I just don’t see us on the road for four months at a time. That’s just not realistic.

Do you find that people are more or less likely to compare it to your other bands or do they let they give you feedback that is autonomous of your earlier work?

They are more than welcome to compare it to whatever they want, but comparing Radar State to The Get Up Kids, Anniversary, and The Architects is inevitable. That’s fine by me if it means people are going to check us out.

One of your earliest shows was Riot Fest, right? What was that experience like?

I had played [Riot Fest] before with The Get Up Kids and had a great time so I was excited to get back. It was very hot when we played, I thought I was going to puke afterward, but we were really happy for the opportunity. Our sideshow with New Found Glory and Bayside was pretty great as well. Seeing Jawbreaker for the first time since I was 16 was unreal!

Are you ever nervous during live performances given that terrorist attacks at concerts are occurring on a more frequent basis?

When I am on stage I really don’t think about it. It is a shame that this is the world we are living in, but I won’t let fear take over my life. Bad things can happen anywhere at any time.

Do you have plans to write a full-length? If so, what are you hoping to communicate with it?

We have written almost 20 songs and are ready to make a full album. Right now we are looking for a label to put it out. Who knows, we may end up putting it out ourselves. We just want to make a record we are proud of and hopefully if we like it, other people will like it too.

The ’90s or now; which is or was better and why?

The ‘90s were a better time for being a musician in my opinion — at least I think it was easier to make a living as an artist. I am not going to sit here though and act like it was the greatest time in the history of the world to be alive. Things just look really bad right now. The thing that keeps me sane is hoping that this is rock bottom, and we are going to come out of this orange nightmare a stronger nation and world.

What are the predominant lessons you’ve learned over more than 20 years of making music?

Always bet on yourselves, you need to work harder than most jobs if you want to survive, and don’t drink too much before a show.

You’ll be heading out with Say Anything in the not-too-distant future. What are you most looking forward to about that trek?

I am looking forward to getting better as a band. Playing live is the best way to do that.

What are your loftiest goals for Radar State?

I play music because I love it not to make money, but it would be great for this band to be self-sustaining. In the 2010s I think that is more than most bands can ask for.

(Visit Radar State here.)

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