Their bathroom serves as the vocal booth. A bedroom is used as the recording studio. The vacuum cleaner may be a source of inspiration.
But their music, a form of rock called Industrial Dance, is anything but domesticated.
This summer, H.B. Radke and Luis Antezana, both 20, produced a record that fuses industrial, mechanical and natural noise to a dance beat. The music is unrelentingly aggressive with a harsh, clankish sound--deliberately so.
“It’s not something to listen to when you’re in a bad mood,” Radke said.
The music was recorded in the apartment they’ve rented for the summer on Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Studio City.
“And, yes,” Antezana said, “the neighbors complained.”
The record, “Machines,” is a four-cut album featuring Statik, a newly formed group headed by Airiq Anest.
Its release date is Sept. 1. The 2,000 copies will be distributed in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Houston and Vancouver, Canada.
In the San Fernando Valley, the two sales outlets are Moby Disc and Tower Records in Sherman Oaks. Carla Zetye, purchaser for Tower Records, said there’s not a big demand for Industrial Dance, but the record shop likes to help local groups.
Radke and Antezana are confident that the demand will grow and they’re already scouting for other bands to record with the help of the synthesizers, computers and digital samplers crammed into Radke’s bedroom.
“While other guys my age were saving up for cars or killer stereo systems, I was buying recording equipment,” Radke said.
Radke acknowledged a youthful naivete about a lot of their work, as if the two were doing a remake of an old Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movie. The prospectus for “Machines” states that their record company is based on their “innate hipness of youth.”
But there’s also an edge to Radke’s and Antezana’s plans that belies superficial appearances. They’re eager to be a part of the record industry and they’re determined to learn the business by functioning as a business, even if they have to make mistakes and lose money--their own, not investors’.
The two are former high school classmates from Mercer Island, an affluent suburb of Seattle. Both are musicians with backgrounds in pop, jazz and swing.
Radke and Antezana still commute to Seattle to perform in Radke’s own 12-piece swing band. Both are studying music: Radke at the Grove School of Music in Van Nuys, Antezana at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
They have composed and recorded their own limited-edition records of what Radke calls “Europop,” contemporary pop music in a European style. Profits on the first two records amounted to $80 and $240, respectively.
“Machines” is their first dip into Industrial Dance and they’ve raised $3,200 to press the record. Their marketing effort includes a three-cut music video now being recorded in Seattle.
Radke and Antezana were introduced to Industrial Dance in Seattle when they met musician Airiq Anest, a friend of a disc jockey that Radke was lobbying to play his records.
Radke said that at first, he thought Anest’s music “was kind of neat, but I really sort of hated it. It doesn’t change and it’s like really repetitive and really aggressive.
“But the more I listened, the more I started to understand the direction it was coming from. After a while, Anest’s music was getting more and more polished in a form I thought would be marketable.”
Antezana called the music “a pessimistic mirror of things. An audio form of ‘Blade Runner.’ It’s the sound of a post-apocalyptic world.”
Certainly, the record “Machines” owes as much to Radke and Antezana’s technical skills as their background in music.
With a digital sample, Radke said, a composer can capture any sound--from a car crash to a vacuum cleaner--"and manipulate its harmonic structure across a keyboard in any pitch desired.”
“The actual musical level of Industrial Dance is something that’s entirely up in the air right now,” Antezana added. “It can be entirely cacophonic or completely tonal and harmonic.”
With Anest’s blessing, Radke and Antezana said they included a few production tricks to make the record more accessible to those looking for an introduction to the genre.
“We don’t want to lose any of Anest’s integrity,” Antezana said, “but we want people to buy the record.”
Although they relish a chance to be a part of this new form of music, Radke and Antezana acknowledge that Industrial Dance--in one form or another--predates their high school days.
Some promoters, like David Bergman, a disc jockey at KXLU-FM, peg its origin to a German band, Einsturzende Neubauten (Collapsing New Buildings), that incorporated smashing girders and other machine-generated sounds into its recordings. Others trace its roots back to American progressive rock in the early 1970s.
Its following in Los Angeles, though ardent, is small. And many of its advocates want to keep it that way, according to Carrie Faver, who helps promote Industrial Dance concerts in L.A.
“It’s a clannish thing, an elitist thing,” she said. “Once you start letting the populace in on it, it bites its own head, losing its core following.”
Industrial Dance is the Sunday night attraction at Lectisternium, a club in Culver City. The music is occasionally played at other clubs like Scream, in Hollywood. A few college radio stations promote the music. Bergman at KXLU-FM, the station at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, devotes a program to Industrial Dance on Tuesdays at midnight.
“Not too many people know about it, so it’s cool to be into it,” said Michael Stewart, owner of Vinyl Fetish records in Hollywood. “Besides, it’s different and people are tired of everything else.”
This is the market Radke and Antezana have decided to tap for their own fledgling record company called Seventh Wave Productions.
Discounting what others say, Radke expects the popularity of Industrial Dance to explode in the next for years. He adds: “The bottom line is--your kids will love it.”