Rad Horror just sounds… well, rad. It’s unique, it’s edgy, and it’s stylishly evocative of late 20th-century subculture. Thankfully, the New Jersey rockers live up to their name. On their Anti Teenage Sensation EP, they’re raw and powerful—especially on “Stay Out,” which is reminiscent of Nirvana’s work. They put on memorable shows, too—it’s not uncommon for them to play without a setlist, and they’ve been known to do things like eat McDonald’s with fans onstage.
We recently had the chance to call Dylan Jackson Scott, Rad Horror’s lead singer, on the final day of the band’s tour with Mainland. We talked about everything from Kansas warehouse parties to music-related tattoos to 13 Reasons Why. Check out the conversation below.
TYF: You guys are on tour with Mainland currently. It’s your last day, right?
Dylan Jackson Scott: Yeah. Today’s the last day.
TYF: What are some of the most memorable or funny things that have happened on the road so far?
Scott: Most memorable… Probably some great shows in the Midwest and also Texas. Always fun. And then… Probably just going out in random cities. Kansas City, we had a crazy night. We wound up at this warehouse-party-type thing that was in the back of the venue that we were playing in, and it was totally nondescript, and we had no idea that this even existed out there, and it was almost like this weird Twilight Zone-type feeling. Super, super cool; super fun. It was like a rave. And us and the Mainland guys just stayed there all night and it was amazing.
TYF: Sounds like a good time. Your most recent EP is called Anti Teenage Sensation, Pt. 1.What was the inspiration behind the title?
Scott: The reason that I decided to call the EPAnti Teenage Sensationis because I feel like a lot of people want to create this teen sensation thing and they’ll do anything to do that rather than just speaking the truth about what they say. So my whole thesis, my idea behind being an Anti Teenage Sensation is that I’m not here to talk about, you know, flowers and butterflies or be a boy band or anything like that or sell my soul to have a radio single. A younger fan base likes our band, but we do what we do because we love it, and we care very genuinely about, lyrically, what we write. And everything that comes out of my mouth is the truth. I thought it was an important title for people to grasp onto. [It’s about] being a band that stands for something and not just fame and not just attention. There’s actually realness behind the madness.
TYF: One of the songs on that EP is “Teenage Love.” You’re not a teenager anymore, so what does the discussion of “teenage love” in this song mean to you?
Scott: “Teenage Love” stems from me being with someone since I was very, very young and into my twenties, and how after a certain amount of time of being with them, they can kind of leave you out of nowhere, but there’s still this nostalgic feeling of what it was like to be a teenager in love and what that felt like. And you grow up with this person and really worry about this person, and this person really gets to know you and your life and your family and becomes a big part of everything. And then all of a sudden they disappear, and then they’re gone forever. And it’s like mourning a death. You know, teenage love is where it started, but it ended in our twenties. That’s the idea behind that.
TYF: Your music is very inspired by the ’90s. If you could go back to the ’90s and see any bands in concert, which bands would you choose?
Scott: Definitely Nirvana. Obviously, Kurt Cobain is no longer with us, so it would be number one, I think. I’m trying to think of who else would be cool in the ’90s… Oasis I’d like to see. Third Eye Blind I’d like to see. I wish I was a teenager or 20-something in the nineties so that I could have seen these bands, but I was way too young… Smashing Pumpkins. But definitely Nirvana, because of Kurt Cobain.
TYF: You’ve talked about how your live shows tend to be pretty unpredictable. What’s the wildest or most surprising thing that’s happened during one of your sets?
Scott: Everything is kind of always scattered. I mean, I smashed a guitar onstage the other night in Brooklyn. That was one thing that was off the cuff. Me and our drummer Jack ate McDonald’s onstage with fans in Baltimore before our set. We invite people onstage randomly. We’ll randomly start playing a cover song—like, we started doing part of the song “Creep” by Radiohead in the middle of our set. It’s very unpredictable. There’s no starts and stops to what we do. Like, in the middle [of a show], if somebody shouts something out, like, they have an idea and they want us to play something, maybe we’ll try it. We do everything really off the cuff; there’s not really too much thought put behind it. It’s just like, we’re here to play music and make sure that people have a really good time, enjoy the experience being at our shows.
TYF: If you were to choose one of your own lyrics to get a tattoo of, which would it be?
Scott: Oh man, that’s really hard. Yeah, I can’t answer that question because I would sound pretentious.
TYF: What about a lyric of any other band, then?
Scott: I do have some lyrics of other bands and artists. I have a Bob Dylan tattoo that says “The times they are a-changin’.” I have a Bruce Springsteen tattoo from a song called “Atlantic City,” and it says “Maybe everything that dies someday comes back” on my leg. Looking to other artists to get tattoos is probably better than [looking to my own music]. I really don’t think I would tattoo my own [lyrics]. But if I did I, I’d have to actually think about it.
TYF: Your band name was inspired by the teen slasher flicks of the ’90s. On that note, what are some of the best scary movies that you’ve seen recently?
Scott: Well, back in the ’90s, some of my favorites were the teen slasher films that really revolved around teen culture. And obviously, a lot of our stuff revolves around that too. I’m trying to think of newer horror movies that I’ve seen, because there hasn’t really been anything like that. The only thing that’s felt more nostalgic to that time period, and this might sound a bit weird, was 13 Reasons Why.The way they shot that, it had this ’90s kind of grit to it in a way which I think a lot of people looked past. They took it in a way where they were like, “This is corny” or whatever, but I took it in a way where I was like, “This feels really nostalgic. This feels like a ’90s teen slasher, almost. Yeah, there’s no serial killer or anything, but there’s still a really, really heavy story behind it.” That was something that I actually really took to in a way that I think a lot of people didn’t, especially people my age. Another movie I saw recently, and I know our drummer Jack likes this movie as well, is It Follows.
TYF: I haven’t seen it.
Scott: That one’s pretty cool. It’s just shot really, really well. The story wasn’t my favorite, but the way that it was shot, you don’t know what time period it was shot at. It’s kind of cool because there’s cars from the ‘80s and there’s, like, one modern car that shows up, but then there’s really no cell phone at all. So yeah, stuff like that. I mean, obviously Stranger Thingsis pretty cool. There’s a lot of stuff out there right now, but I know for me, the ’90s teen slashers will always be the ones that I go back to.
TYF: You guys are going on tour again in the fall, right?
Scott: Yeah. We’ll be back on tour again in the fall with Dreamers. That’ll be a lot of fun. We’re very stoked about that.
TYF: Awesome. Can we expect new music before then?
Scott: Yeah, probably the second part of the EP.
TYF: Anti Teenage Sensation Pt. 2, I’m guessing?
Scott: Um, no, it will not be called Pt. 2. It will have another title. It’ll be called Anti Teenage Sensationand then something after it. A bit unpredictable, but it’s gonna be an interesting one.
TYF: All right. Is there anything else that you’d like to say to the readers and fans before we wrap up?
Scott: Listen to Rad Horror and follow us on our socials. And also make sure that you really care about the music that you listen to and really dig into the lyrics that you’ve listened to and make sure that they mean something to you, because that kind of stuff can change your life, and a lot of people miss out on those opportunities [to discover] good music.