Crafting a song with both a catchy melody and meaning involves a great deal of skill. While many of the artists currently topping the charts seem to specialize in pumping out hit after soulless hit, Florida-based band Go Radio has mastered the art of creating music that is as meaningful as it is singable.
The alternative rock group, whose sound is flavored with plenty of pop sensibility, was formed back in 2007 by lead vocalist, guitarist and pianist Jason Lancaster, joined by Alex Reed on guitar, Matt “Burns” Poulos on bass and Steven Kopacz on drums.
Prior to the foundation of Go Radio, Lancaster was best known for his work in his former band, pop-punk outfit Mayday Parade, whose earlier releases feature his rougher, edgier vocals alongside that of co-lead vocalist Derek Sanders.
Go Radio, who will be performing Nov. 25 in Detroit, has been on tour to promote their most recent release, “Close the Distance,” which dropped back in September. It has since gone on to become their most successful effort to date, reaching No. 54 on the Billboard Top 200.
Lancaster was eager to discuss the meaning behind the name of the new record.
“It’s very literal — close the distance between where you are and where you want to be,” Lancaster said. “It’s about figuring out what you want from life and taking it and just working for it, and just saying ‘I’m not happy with everything right now; let’s find the things I’m not happy with and let’s change them.’”
The album is not lacking in strong songs, from the bouncy, piano-laden single “Go to Hell” to the anthemic title track, “Close the Distance” is dripping with emotion. Just don’t ask Lancaster to choose a favorite track from the album.
“It goes back and forth,” he said. “Picking favorite songs is kind of like picking between children. ‘I Won’t Lie’ is probably one of my favorites to perform. It’s one of the more piano-driven songs and it’s super meaningful for all of us. It’s just a tremendous song to play.”
The writing and recording process for “Close the Distance” deviated from the band’s norm according to Lancaster, who explained the process of constructing a Go Radio song.
“For this record, it was a little bit different,” he said. “Normally, it would just be one of us who would just write until almost completion and bring it in and the band would finish it, but for this record, all of us would get in a room together and start from nothing … I feel like we made it a much more collective record than we’ve had in the past.”
It’s been a year and a half since the band released their first full-length album, “Lucky Street,” which contained the dreamily romantic “Goodnight Moon” and the more aggressive “Any Other Heart” (complete with a chorus certain to get lodged in your head).
Lancaster said of “Lucky Street,” “You can kind of hear the darkness in that record and what we were all going through individually, as well [as] collectively. That record was about trying to let yourself out of something, trying to bring yourself to a place that you were happy with.”
But this time around, things have changed, and this change is
reflected in the band’s music.
“‘Close the Distance,’ I feel like it is, we got to that happy place … we’ve gotten to a point where we’re happy with ourselves and we’re happy with our music and we’re happy with the decisions we’ve made, and we’re just trying to complete that journey,”
If “Close the Distance” is any indication, Go Radio is well on its way to finding its niche in today’s music scene. Many of the groups who have played the Warped Tour in recent years (as Go Radio did in the summer of 2011) appeal squarely to a certain demographic, specifically young teens and music fans. But Go Radio isn’t bound by this unwritten rule, rather, a pervasive sense of maturity is present within the music and the meaning.
On the ninth track of “Close the Distance,” called “The Ending,” perhaps the lyrics that best sum up the band’s attitude are sung: “You can find a spark in your yesterday; be your something more, be your saving grace; be the change that you need for the years you will face.”
“I think our message is to be okay with yourself … change the things that you can and have the wisdom to know the things that you can’t,” Lancaster said. “Have a good life; that’s the overall goal. That’s what everyone strives for.”
You can catch Go Radio at the Shelter in St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m., or learn more about them at www.wearegoradio.com.