California Supergroup Radiator King are premiering the video for their anthemic new single ‘Ghost of Elvis‘ today. For the last decade Radiator King has been the moniker of NYC-via-Boston solo artist Adam Silvestri. But since he moved to L.A. in 2021 at the urging of long time collaborator / drummer / Dresden Dolls co-founder Brian Viglione, the two have teamed up with keyboardist Alexander Burke(Bob Dylan, Anderson .Paak, Greg Dulli) to form a supergroup with a fixed line-up and collaborative writing process.
Today GIITTV are delighted to premiere the latest song to emerge from this new era of Radiator King- ‘Ghost of Elvis.’ At once modern and nostalgic, this track is the most accessible, radio-ready song that they’ve released yet. The anthemic track is laced with pounding drums, shimmering keys and impassioned vocal performance. You can hear it echoing off arena walls as well as in the headphones of some lonely, misunderstood angst ridden kid escaping to their bedroom in search of solace and connection with a voice that sounds like it’s been there forever.
Speaking of the track, Silvestri said, ‘Ghost of Elvis’ was probably the hardest song I’ve ever written. It took a long time and many false starts before it came together. It really required that I stop thinking so much—to just create and not worry about what I was creating. The key was to stop judging the work in process.”
“The breakthrough moment for me was when I came up with the line ‘even the ghost of Elvis sings alone,” Silvestri said.“That’s when I finally uncovered what the song was about—you come into this world alone, and you leave this world alone. That’s the idea. You might need people along the way, whether it be a significant other or a close friend, but above all you have to have faith in yourself, and you have to be content with yourself. And with all the mythological figures in rock & roll history who were surrounded by people and worshiped by the world, they are often the loneliest of all. And to me that same idea relates to how you can be in a relationship and feel completely alone, or how you can live in the largest city on Earth and still somehow feel more alone than if you were by yourself in a cabin in the woods.”
Speaking exclusively to GIITTV about the video, Silvestri said, “The music video for “Ghost of Elvis” was made by Anthony Calle and his team. I first met Anthony when he came to a show we played at The Troubadour in L.A. He dug what we were doing and we talked for a while after the show. Right from the start, we got along great. [Our keyboardist] Alex Burke had done a score for a movie of Anthony’s, which is how he was introduced to our band. I loved working with him. Whatever ideas we came up with, he knew how to make it happen. He had the focus, skills and knowledge.
When we needed to find a second location for the shoot, I started asking around. A buddy of mine who grew up in L.A. brought me to a really cool spot where he and his friends used to go party. All of my outside shots were filmed there. We had to be quick because we didn’t exactly have permission to be there. I remember it was so stiflingly hot out that day—not the best weather for a black suit.
A big part of what gives ‘Ghost of Elvis’ its distinct vibe and character is Brian [Viglione]’s drum groove, which is really hypnotic and unique. It highlights how creatively he approaches the drums—his parts are lyrical, melodic and, most of all, they make you want to move. And even when they get complicated, he always leaves plenty of space for the other instruments.
And Alex’s keyboard parts are really transportive—they give the songs their sonic landscape. I remember in the studio we experimented pretty heavily with getting different, non-traditional sounds out of the organ, putting the B3 through all kinds of different effect pedals and amps. Alex has this youthful curiosity he brings to his playing. Working on “Ghost of Elvis,” I had my guitar part mostly written and Alex, on a whim, came up with this incredibly memorable, dreamlike Rhodes piano part, which is what you hear on the verse before the vocals come in. It really compliments what I’m playing on guitar and fits the song perfectly.“
Veteran producer Ted Hutt—whose credits include The Gaslight Anthem, Violent Femmes, Chuck Ragan and a Grammy-winning collaboration with Old Crow Medicine Show worked with Radiator King on ‘Ghost of Elvis‘ and really pushed and challenged Silvestri to work on and refine the lyrics until they felt like they were on par with the song’s full potential.
What most separates Radiator King’s current direction and sound from everything he’s done in the past is the highly collaborative nature of the new songs, which the band has been spontaneously banging out together at their Hollywood rehearsal space.
“We’re all so happy to be here,” said Silvestri. “ It’s like we’re teenagers again in the basement of our parents’ houses making a bunch of noise. Really, that’s what you’re looking for when you’re making music—that childhood mentality and sense of wonder where anything seems possible. When you write together as a unit, there’s an alchemy to it that goes beyond supporting players adding their own stamp on their respective instrument. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Radiator King [L-R]: Brian Viglione, Adam Silvestri, Alexander Burke. Photo by Michelle Shiers.