If there’s one thing Radio Free Universe never has to worry about, it’s being lumped into any one categorical box. Intentionally fashioning a genre-inclusive approach to their music, this Canadian quintet is about as without boundaries as you can get.
RFU rocks with melody for sure, but that’s where the easy descriptions end. Ethereal guitar and steady beats with messages embedded in their songs, making music that speaks the truth and actually says something is what has pushed this unit since the days when the only thing that existed about the band was its name.
Excited to premier their new video for “Love Right Now” exclusively with American Songwriter, frontman George Panagopoulos delves into the lifeblood of song.
“This song is about the power of empathy. We are each our own light, individual beating hearts trying to survive. Now is a defining time in history. Where humanity will end up depends solely on our ability to love one another. When everything else goes away, love is all we have.”
Keys and percussion open the track but it’s bassist Kenny Thor Corke that clears the way, laying down a groove a mile wide for the glitter-synth-pop vocals and harmonies to slide through. And what vocals they are. Between Panagopoulos’ falsetto that rival Adam Levine and Corke looking as though he raided Bootsy Collins wardrobe trunk, these two steal the video show.
The follow-up single and opening track to their newest album Love, “Love Right Now” is more than just a vehicle for the band’s musical abilities. It’s a statement. Damn near a personal declaration that this world is headed to hell in a handbag and the ship needs to be righted with love, and fast. Written long before the current global crisis we’re all entrenched in, Panagopoulos could see the path society is headed down and it’s obvious it is one his own vision takes issue with.
Not one to skirt his own criticism, Panagopoulos recognizes his own shortcomings. The man in the mirror is no stranger and he’s not above acknowledging he’s even preaching to himself.
“Social media has created an atmosphere of divisiveness,” he says. “I’m the worst! The song is talking to me, because I’m such an asshole on my Facebook profile to people I disagree with. I’m realizing what I need to do is be more inclusive and understand why others have the ideas they do—even though I disagree with them. It comes down to seeing the humanity in others, listening, and accepting them.”
Originally from Toronto, Panagopoulos made his way to LA where he worked in world-renowned studios and fronted the band King Clancy for a few years before making his way to The Great White North in Hamilton, Ontario. Why Hamilton? Because he was looking for soul, not shimmer.
“Because it’s the kind of town that attracts a lot of great musicians.”