Sara Radle on Babes in Toyland, Playing Solo and The Rentals
Sara Radle once fronted the San Antonio power pop trio Lucy Loves Schroeder and started her own Dallas label, Jeez Louise Records. These days, the Los Angeles transplant is on tour, promoting her fourth solo LP, Same Sun Shines, out on Jeez Louise. As a preview of her show at LaGrange on Thursday, Radle shared plenty about her first show experiences, including her time as a member of The Rentals.
What was the first show you remember seeing? Were you with your parents?
I can't say specifically which show it was, but my first show experience probably involved my parents playing. My parents are both musicians, so I grew up going to their shows. After that, I started going to local shows in San Antonio, watching my brother's band play. My first big concert was probably The Monkees at Sea World. After that, my friend in high school dragged me out to White Zombie. He was obsessed with them. I didn't really know much about them, but The Melvins and Babes in Toyland opened for them. And after I saw Babes in Toyland, it was like, "I want to do that!"
Other than Babes in Toyland, what were shows that made a major impact on you?
Honestly, the ones that made the most impact on me were the local shows in San Antonio. There was a place where my friend Andrew [Binovi] and I would look in the paper and see all these cool shows coming in, but it was 21 and up. Once when we started playing there, we were still underage but we could get in on other nights when we weren't playing. We had an in with the owner there. I would say that was really influential to me in my early days of being in a band. It was one of these scenes where you could catch a punk rock band and then a country band and a metal band all at the same show.
Tell us about the first Lucy Loves Schroeder show.
The very first Lucy Loves Schroeder show, we played at a co-worker's house party, in the backyard. Everybody was standing way towards the back. We were in the back of the yard and everybody was next to the house, where the kegs were. I remember the stage was made of doors they had pulled off rooms inside the house. And I remember, I don't know why, but there was big pile of dog shit next to where I was standing. The good thing about that show was, I don't know if you remember, but I used to start every Lucy Loves Schroeder show by saying, "We're Lucy Loves Schroeder, we're going to rock your balls." That started from that first show because I was so nervous. I used to have really bad stage fright, so why did I start a band in the first place? I was scared shitless and my brother was there and was standing in the front and I was like, "Do we start playing now?" And he said, "Tell 'em you're gonna rock their balls!"
How about the first show with The Rentals?
The first I played with them was at the Belly-Up Tavern in Orange County. I remember being kinda nervous for that but being really excited. At one point, I think sang part of a Dolly Parton song out of peer pressure, from Matt [Sharp] shouting it out at me. Somebody was tuning up and we had some down time. There was a really cool energy because it was the first show the band had played in ten years in the States. The crowd was really cool and supportive. I remember having a lot of fun onstage. The second show was insane because we played at an arena in Japan in front of thousands of people. I was like, "What am I doing?"
When you were in The Rentals, did you ever play Dallas?
We played at The House of Blues. A lot of friends and family came out. On the not-so-happy side, we played in Dallas about a week after Carter Albrecht died. I remember we were playing at another House of Blues in Florida, I think in Orlando, and I got an e-mail from Jennifer Meehan just about 30 minutes before I went onstage. I actually felt good about the fact that we were going to be there the next week, so I could be with a couple of friends and talk about it. I asked the band if we could flash something on the screen before we played saying, "Our set tonight is for to Carter Albrecht."
Same Sun Shines is your fourth solo full-length. Were you doing solo stuff concurrently when you were in The Rentals and Calamity Magnet?
I was. When I moved out there, I sort of hit the ground running. Matt and I would just work full-time on music, so it was pretty Rentals-focused at that time. About a year into it, I started getting back into the habit of writing my own tunes. Over the three years I was playing with them, by the end of it, I had quite a few songs, plus older songs. Prior to moving to L.A., I was getting ready to record my next solo record, so I had all those songs as well. When I left The Rentals, I wanted to form a band so that's why I formed Calamity Magnet. That was kind of a solo project, not to discount the input from the other bandmates, but as far as the songwriting side of it. We played for a while and I was like, "Ahhh, you know what? I'm a control freak, I want to get back to doing the solo thing."