Be Kind, Rewind: The Bedroom Brilliance of Radiator Hospital
At 22 years old, Radiator Hospital auteur Sam Cook-Parrott was just a baby during the early '90s, when the DIY ethic worked its way into rock music for good. He definitely carries on that modus operandi in Radiator Hospital, more often than not his one-man band.
Photo by John Hanson
While other bands often describe their lo-fi sound as "bedroom" pop, Radiator Hospital exemplifies the genre; all of Cook-Parrott's albums have literally been recorded in his own bedroom (or basement), by himself or with the help of his friends.
Despite the quality sound of Radiator Hospital's 2013 album Something Wild, it too was recorded in Cook-Parrott's own basement in Philadelphia, with the help of his engineering-savvy friend Kyle Gilbride. A feverish collection of punk-tinged guitar pop, the LP "sounds like a pro record" despite its modest production, according to Cook-Parrott.
He sometimes crowdsources his many musician friends to record full-band albums, including Something Wild; generally, however, Cook-Parrott records on his own as Radiator Hospital.
"I like recording by myself," he explains. "It's fun to play all the instruments and mess around with different sounds. I can't always make great-sounding high-fidelity records," he says, acknowledging certain limitations that accompany home recording. "But I can--and will--always make records."
Like most young musicians, Cook-Parrott appreciates affordable avenues, and recording at home certainly cuts costs.
"It seems silly to spend a bunch of money on recording," he says, "when I can do it myself, or have my friends do it for super cheap."
Furthering his thrifty DIY ideals, Radiator Hospital albums are usually released on cassette tapes.
"They're affordable, portable, and accessible," he says of his preference for tapes. "I've grown up with tapes, CDs, records, 8-tracks... all sorts of stuff. It didn't really occur to me that putting out a tape was weird until people were like, 'Whoa, you guys put out tapes?!' And I'm like, 'Yeah, who cares? It's just a tape.'"
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