In February of 2015, the indie pop-punk band Radio Decay played its first show at a Battle of the Bands with nervous jitters and promising potential. Now, it’s one of the top acts circulating in Auburn’s music scene.
Frontman Lauren Parsons began his relationship with music at a very young age. Early on he started taking violin lessons and then progressed into clarinet and guitar in the fifth grade.
“I started getting a better understanding of music,” Parsons said. “That’s kind of what made me passionate about it because I started understanding the language.”
It wasn’t until Parsons joined Spicer’s Music Garage Band Camp when he began to piece together and form a cohesive idea of music.
“As kids, it wasn’t a very good band,” he laughed. “But we were having a great time because we were learning the logistics of being in a band. So, really I’ve been in and out of bands since I was 11 years old.”
For Parsons, music has always been a constant in his life, but nothing as serious as Radio Decay is now.
With the band’s affinity for the color blue all the way down to Parsons’ striking colored hair, Radio Decay is known for its high-energy performances of dancing and jumping around on top of its pop-punk sound.
The early stages of Radio Decay began while Parsons was still in high school and has continued with him as an Auburn University junior in psychology.
After the band’s first show, things started picking up, and the group began playing regionally in 2016. Radio Decay has played at high-profile venues like the Masquerade in Atlanta and Zydeco in Birmingham along with performing at local spots.
With Parsons as the founding member, Radio Decay has gone through phases of bandmates.
“A lot of my bandmates have other responsibilities, so it’s mainly the people who I can call and are available to help with a show,” Parsons said.
Before Radio Decay, Parsons’ music was much more of a collaborative process. Now, all the material is written by him.
“It’s mostly me writing a song, arranging it on guitar and vocals and how I want the dynamic changes to go,” he said. “Then I’ll bring it to the band, and someone will write a bass part and a drum part to complement it, but it’s mostly my creative outlet.”
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Reflecting back on the band’s first show and comparing it to now, Parsons said he’s glad Radio Decay has progressed.
“This was my first band where I was the frontperson, and I remember trying to make stage banter with the crowd, and it was just so awkward,” Parsons laughed. “I was just not good at talking into the mic. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t be happy with it now, but you got to start somewhere.”
Parsons said that even
“There is just sort of a thrill that goes along with it,” he said. “It normally starts out at the beginning of a set, and I’m pretty nervous thinking about the reactions of the crowd and all the dynamics that go into a performance. It’s just constant thinking. It’s kind of the same state of mind one could get while reading deeply in a book, just immersed.”
Radio Decay’s style has changed over the years in the sense of how they approach its brand, Parsons said. Before, the band would play at family or friends’ events where music was mainly just background noise. But now they are featured as the sole focus at venues across the Auburn-Opelika area and are playing at house shows centered on the band.
“For us, our name has really picked up over the last semester,” Parsons said. “For Auburn’s music scene it’s mainly house shows, and in terms of original music, it’s actually very small. You could name all the original acts on two hands.”
Parsons said he’s lucky to have gotten to know and made friends with the other acts in Auburn because it opened up a lot of doors for Radio Decay.
When playing at Prevail Union this past summer, Parsons met the bassist of another local band, Dogwood Lung.
“He went up to us and said how he and his band put on a lot of shows at his house and would love to play a show with us,” Parsons said. “It was just such a big opportunity because that’s where people go to hear original music in Auburn.”
Parsons said he still views Radio Decay as a bit of a newcomer but believes its sound and influence sets them apart.
“Our sound is definitely more pop and pop-punk, I would say,” he said. “We’re a bit heavier.”
Growing up, Parsons listened to bands like Paramore, Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy and their influence can be heard in Radio Decay’s earlier music.
“Pop-punk kind of had its hay day in the early 2000s, so we’re still trying to incorporate how indie rock is going now,” he said. “So now it’s drawing from people like Car Seat Headrest, there’s some Strokes sound in there too, but it’s really a mix and creating our own sound.”