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Interview With Radio Drive's Kevin Gullickson

How would you describe your music to any person who may have never heard it before?

Press image for musician Kevin Gullickson of the band Radio Drive.

Kevin: For starters, I would describe the overall genre as alternative pop-rock. Alternative because it's something a little different and a little edgy. Pop because it has catchy choruses and melodies. Rock because it has its roots in the classic rock bands of the '70s and '80s. I would say that my music typically has a big drum sound with crunchy guitars with catchy pop melodies.

Is there any significance to the band’s name? K: I got the band name Radio Drive from a street in Woodbury, Minnesota. I was driving through there, and that street name jumped out at me, and I thought that would make for a good band name. Even though Radio Drive was a proper band at one time, at the moment, it's just me. I've found it hard to keep a band of three to four guys together with the same level of commitment and direction. Radio Drive has had several changes in personnel over the years, but it's always been myself at the core. Currently, I hire musicians to do recordings and live gigs. Who knows, maybe it'll become a proper band once again. What are your musical influences? K: There are so many to name. Over the years, I've listened to so many artists and styles. Early on, the biggest influences were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Then came the heavier sounds of Led Zeppelin and the classic rock bands. U2 was a huge influence in the '80s and '90s. More recently, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters.

What are your musical inspirations? K: There is a wide and vast array of musical influences for me. I love listening to someone with exceptional talent, whether a singer or musician. When I hear an amazing guitar solo by Jimmy Page or other artists, that inspires me to work on my guitar playing. Listening to an amazing singer inspires me to work on my vocal talents.

I'm also inspired when I hear an amazing song, whether something light and soft or heavy, even the genre doesn't matter if it's good. I'm inspired by classical music and beautiful orchestration in contemporary songs. Then I can be inspired by heavy metal with awesome guitar playing and bombastic drums. Listening to something like the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band album and the amazing arrangements and harmonies are inspiring to me.

Lyrically, I'm inspired by people and my interactions with them. Maybe I hear something in a conversation that clicks. I'll take a few words and turn that into a song. Maybe I'll write something vicariously, hearing about a serious issue or challenge someone I know is going through. Certainly, my wife has been a huge inspiration for my songs, what with so many having been written about our love.

If given the chance, what musician(s) would you like to collaborate with? Rather this is to either write a song or be featured on a track. K: That's easy: Sir Paul McCartney. He's been amazingly consistent with his gifts and talents over the years, and as I mentioned, he's been a huge influence on my music. He seems so down-to-earth and humble after all the success he's had. You just had a new EP release recently, could you tell me what the EP is about? K: Yes, I just released a new EP on August 5, 2022, titled One Breath Away. It has four new songs that I recorded at my home studio earlier this year. The EP doesn't really have a theme. Each of the four songs each have a different feel and meaning. "I Believe, I Believe" is a song of faith and hope, definitely something we all need. "Moment by Moment" is about cherishing the precious moments we have with our loved ones. "Be Yourself Tonight" talks about so many difficulties people deal with that can be resolved by becoming their true and authentic selves. "Don't You Know" is about the deep commitment of love drawing out the best in someone. What’s something you hope people take away from the new songs? K: I would hope people would be inspired in some way. Maybe a renewed hope and optimism for the future or in their present situation. Live in the moment, and enjoy life and the ones you're with... And hopefully, enjoy the music!

Which song or songs on the EP were the most fun to write and which were the most challenging to write? K: I love every aspect of songwriting, so they were all fun. I recently purchased some new software that helps with piano and string arrangements. I was able to play around with that and add some new dimensions to the songs that I didn't have in previous albums. That was a lot of fun for me.

The one that was the most challenging was "Don't You Know." I did something a little different in the chorus. Normally, the downbeat comes in on the first count of each measure. There are a couple of measures where the downbeat is on the fourth count of that measure. That was a little tricky for me to record those parts. It all worked out in the end, but it took more than a few takes to get there. Do you have any favourite song from the new EP? K: It's always hard to pick out a favourite since I wrote them all. But the one I seem to listen to the most is "Don't You Know." It's short, punchy, with heavy guitars and drums. It's a straight-up rock song. Do you have any favourite songs to perform live? Could be your own music or even a cover. Any reason why? K: I have two that come to mind, and they're both cover songs. The first is by The Beatles, "Hey Bulldog." I love that song. I always have from the first time I heard it. It's such a cool song on so many levels and so much fun to play. It's always a crowd favourite.

The second song is called "Under The Milky Way" by a band from the '80s called The Church. This is another song that I've appreciated for so many years. When we play it live, we go off on an extended jam, so I get to rock out on a long guitar solo, and the keyboard player gets to do the same. It's so much fun.

I recorded and released both of these songs on previous albums, and they've been very well received. You can check them out on Spotify or most of the streaming platforms. If you could perform a show this very second anywhere in the world, where would it be? Are there any particular venues or cities that come to mind? K: So many venues come to mind. Probably first would be Wembley Stadium. If you don't mind me adding a few others, I would next say Madison Square Garden. Lastly, The Royal Albert Hall. Think of all the amazing bands and artists that have performed at these venues over the years. It blows me away thinking of the musical history that took place at these venues. What do you currently have planned for the remainder of the year? K: Good question. Having just released the EP, I'm keeping very busy promoting it. I'm hoping to do a music video or two for the latest release. I'm hoping to do more live shows. We stopped playing gigs because of COVID and are still on an extended break since the guys have gone on with other things. I'd like to get back together and get out there playing more live gigs this year. I live in Minnesota and don't particularly like the winters. When it gets cold, I stay indoors and hibernate in my studio. I'll probably do more writing and recording when the snow starts to fly. Thanks for the time today, Kevin. Is there anything else you may want to add before you go? K: Thank you so much for having me as a guest here on Crucial Rhythm. Thank you to those who took the time to read this. I hope to stay in touch with you. Please connect with me on social media!


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