Van Life: Radiator King

Boston’s Adam Silvestri (AKA Radiator King) is the type of musician this feature was pretty much designed to  accommodate. A road dog, traveller, essentially a musical explorer both sonically and literally,  Silvestri spends many many hours on the road, clicking up the miles and cranking up the toons.  His latest album, ‘A Hollow Triumph After All,’ is awash with vivid imagery, Waits-esque swagger and fuelled by  a unflinching punk spirit, its therefore unsurprising his glovebox is full of gems. Americana-UK catches up with  the now New York-based trobadour ahead of another US tour.

Ok, is it all parties, late-night beers and endless motel beds?

Tour-life is filled with its dose of ups and downs. Some days you feel on top of the world while others you just want to just crawl under a rock and sleep for a month.  However, the one thing that any touring musician with experience will tell you is that morale is key.  If you can keep spirits high, then nothing else matters.  No, not even an apartment full of cats, a worn out couch with broken springs or bad Mexican food can stand in your way.  You are a platoon leader and the success of your mission depends upon the morale you maintain for your troops.

When touring solo, which is something I do quite often, keeping spirits high becomes a bit more tough, since there is no one else around to pick you up when you start getting down. However, I always found that in these instances balance is key. So you piggybacked a few nights of drinking too hard and not sleeping much did you now? Well then it just might be time to hit the library for some peace and quiet to give the ears and mind a break. Then perhaps later that evening before soundcheck, a run in the park is just what you need. This balance is essential for allowing tour to be sustainable.  In my younger days I used to go balls to the wall every night only to get sick a week or two in.  This type of living just isn’t sustainable and it gets in the way of doing what it is you are out there to do – connecting with people across the country through your music. 

Glovebox inspection! Stand beside your CDs and get ready for inspection. Now, what have we got here? 

Tom Waits ‘Rain Dogs’ 
Waits is one of my favourite songwriters. He writes so many different types of tunes and does them in his own special way. His songs make me believe in different characters of myself- the runaway, the dreamer and the hobo.

The Clash – ‘London Calling’ 
My favourite album – period. This album taught me that you could combine many different styles of music and make it a sound all your own.

Bane – ‘Give Blood’  
Bane will always have a place in my heart. I’ve seen this band more than any other in my life given that I grew up in the Boston area and that’s where they were out of. ‘Give Blood’ is an amazing album beginning to end and whenever I need to get amped up, this is my go to album.

The Rolling Stones – ‘Beggars Banquet’ 
I love everything about this album from the cool cover, to the song order to the way it was recorded. It’s just a perfect album in my opinion. Each song has its own unique flavour and the songwriting here is just top notch. I will admit that my favourite Stones album is always changing, but this one’s at the top of my list at the moment.

Social Distortion: ‘White Light, White Heat, White Trash’ 
I could listen to this album on repeat over and over and I think at some points in my life I have. Social D have such a cool sound that is catchy and interesting all at once.

The Pogues – ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’  
Listening to the music on this album just makes me feel happy. There is so much energy in these songs and the writing is great. Shane McGowan is one of the most underrated songwriters still alive today.

Bob Dylan – ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ 
Dylan is my all-time favourite artist. While it’s a five-way tie for my favourite Dylan album, I chose this one for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s got my all-time favourite tune on it, “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” Secondly, it was Dylan’s first album with a band. An album where he pushed the boundaries and developed a new sound that was one-part punk, one-part blues and one-part rockabilly.

Reverend Gary Davis – ‘Harlem Street Singer’ 
This album never gets old. Reverend Gary Davis seamlessly weaves together soulful vocal lines with intricate and expressive melodic guitar parts that come together as one unified sound. The honesty and pure emotion that oozes from these songs makes for some of the best music ever made.

Chuck Ragan – ‘Covering Ground’ 
Ragan is one of my favourite singers in the game today. There’s something very captivating about his delivery. It has a real sense of urgency and you can’t help but be drawn to what he has to say.

Fugazi – ‘Repeater’ 
When I was in 5 class or 6 class grade I used to go into my brother’s room and listen to his CDs when he wasn’t home. This one was my favourite. I actually learned to play guitar by picking apart MacKaye’s guitar riffs here and it definitely influenced my style of playing.  Great band, great album.

A Hollow Triumph After All is out now

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