If you ever saw Ted Rader perform with The Mad Caps, you’d hardly recognize him now. But behind the long hair and flowing vintage tunic is, in fact, the former singer and guitarist for the once-heralded Vegas band.
Gone is the short-haired 24-year-old who howled his way across Downtown stages—along with former bandmate Jonathan Realmuto—before the pair took The Mad Caps to Seattle in 2011. The Rader who returned last month says he’s ready to embark on a new musical journey.
No longer tied to the rockabilly and blues sounds at the heart of The Mad Caps, Rader has evolved from garage-rock frontman to psychedelic iconoclast—a reflection of his time in the Pacific Northwest. Palpable in his latest demos, the musician’s heavy fretwork and signature yelps remain present, but they’re now buried beneath layers of droning distortion.
In 2015, The Mad Caps went their separate ways, and Rader moved to Portland to form a new band called Rader (featuring fellow Vegas ex-pat Andrew Yeghiazarian on bass). That group was gearing up to record a full-length earlier this year when Ted Rader’s mother suffered a heart attack, bringing the musician back to town. (His mom has since made a full recovery, but Rader, 30, says his move back is permanent.)
Now, Rader plans to release his Portland project’s final songs as an EP, which will mark the official end of that band. He’s got a new lineup, featuring James Norman (drums) and Jose Torres (bass) and plans to record and perform as Ted Rader from now on—in part to avoid confusion with another Vegas import.
“Knowing that Las Vegas was adopting the Raiders soon, I just don’t want to put up with that,” he laughs. “In a selfish way, it’s easier for me to just use my own name to put out my own music however and whenever I want.”
Since returning, Rader has been enlisted to produce the debut album by local psych outfit The Acid Sisters, and his Brian Eno-inspired solo synth project Inhuman Again has recordings waiting in the wings. “Inhuman Again was an attempt to totally do the opposite of what I had told myself to do. It’s all fake instruments, computers. I always thought, You record on tape, you record live. It’s got to be like Sun Studios, and then I realized that was bullsh*t.”
Most significantly, with The Mad Caps and Rader (the band) in the rearview, he has his sights set on returning to the stage with his new band and new sound. “I love a ton of different music. It was just nice to finally be able to let music breathe,” he says. “The Mad Caps were very based out of ’50s music … now I’m just slowly progressing into the next decade.”