This is very good news.
This is very good news.
Photo by Penn Aragon/Tin Box Photos

Radioboxer Is Back, and You Can (Sort of) Thank Us for It

Vanessa “Vanne” Dazza seems calmer and more composed than the last time I interviewed her in the spring of 2011. This may be because our first interview was conducted — at the insistence of her band, the “bipolar power pop” outfit Radioboxer —  inside of BT’s Gentleman’s Club on free beer night.

This one is taking place in the relaxed courtyard behind Wynwood Diner.

Then again, it may have more to do with what she’s experienced in the time since her band’s farewell show in June 2013. Whatever the case, as she speaks, it becomes clear that the singer who once said to me “I don’t care if I die onstage, as long as I give it my heart” has lowered her volume only temporarily. She's not shifted a notch in her intention to “rock the house” that is the South Florida music scene to its core — again.  

Dazza is lead singer of Radioboxer, a beloved Miami rock act many thought they'd never get to see onstage again. She offers little detail about the reasons for Radioboxer’s disbanding. “It was time for us to have a break. Sometimes things need to end in life."

But the musical ride Radioboxer took our city on was a proud and wild one that saw the band release two CDs of stomping, thrashing, equipment-smashing songs about love, hate, heartbreak, and vengeance. Its live sets, on more than one occasion, threatened to physically destroy several of Miami’s most popular live music venues and left a legion of fans eagerly wanting more. 

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It was the nostalgic affection of many of those fans that led to Radioboxer’s high-ranking inclusion in our July article "27 Miami Bands We Really Wish Would Get Back Together" and, unbeknown to the writers and readers alike, actually sealed the deal on the band’s reemergence.

Following her recent move to Deerfield Beach, Dazza was met with nothing less than a minor tragedy in today’s tech-dependent world, which led to an unexpected surprise. “My phone got stolen two weeks after I moved back to South Florida, so none of my friends could reach me, and I was so upset and cranky. I didn’t want to go on Facebook or anything.”

After several days of internet silence, she was finally contacted by King Pez, drummer for fellow Miami band Divided by Silence, who alerted her to our article. “I opened my Facebook and I had, like, 100 notifications, and when I saw the video there of our last show... honestly, I started to cry.”

The two of them had been casually working on music for roughly three weeks without any grand plans, but at this point, Pez suggested contacting fellow Divided by Silence bandmates guitarist Don “Dr. Long” Long and bassist Lowfat McPhatty and trying to re-create the Radioboxer legend.

In the time between the band's final public appearance at a locally adored warehouse space known as the Annex Studios in Hialeah and now, Dazza has amicably parted ways with her former husband and musical partner, Radioboxer cofounder Jota Dazza. She then briefly relocated to Orlando to take some personal time to reconnect with her mother, continued her education, spent time as a spin-class instructor (which she admits was basically a vent for dispersing the frightening levels of howling physical energy that she used to unleash onstage), and pursued a career as a medical assistant in a pediatric clinic. 

"Sex! Rock & Roll! Drugs! Sodom and Gomorrah! Everything you want is going to be there!”
"Sex! Rock & Roll! Drugs! Sodom and Gomorrah! Everything you want is going to be there!”
Photo by Penn Aragon/Tin Box Photos

And she loved it. But, as she describes it, “the itch to play” remained.

“I missed the music," she says. "I missed being involved with the audience, people stealing confetti from us and putting it in their pockets or telling me, ‘Oh my gosh! I really needed this. My job has been killing me!’ I really missed that.” When she was reminded that Radioboxer’s fans felt the same way, it was fuel on her creative fire.

“Is this like a sign from God or the devil or somebody? I don’t know. But the city is calling us. Thanks to you guys, I know Miami wants us again.” 

Meanwhile, her new supporting bandmates are approaching the challenge of filling the original Radioboxer shoes with no less than Dazza’s level of anticipation. “We’re ready. We know what the fans want, and whatever everyone expects, we’re working to top that,” says guitarist Don Long.

“We were all working on other music. We’ve got enough on our plate, but when it’s Radioboxer, you make time — you make the effort,” Lowphat McPhatty adds. 

Her new bandmates aren't the only ones making time for Radioboxer. Photographer Penn Aragon, who’s meticulously snapping photos of the band as we talk, was a constant presence on the local music scene but has basically retired from it after the band’s breakup. “There’s something about the spectacle of them onstage," Aragon says. "When I heard about [the band's breakup], there was an emptiness. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to shoot anymore.’” Aragon is now signed on as the group's visual arts director.

This is what a Radioboxer show looks like.
This is what a Radioboxer show looks like.
Photo by Alex Broadwell

The intrepid new foursome are also dedicated to bringing back the explosive theatrical spirit of the band’s lauded live shows. The uninitiated might get a vague idea of what a Radioboxer show used to look like from the above photo of a blood- and sweat-drenched Dazza.

But a picture just doesn't do it justice. When many former fans think Radioboxer, they get flashbacks of confetti, balloons, stage blood, animal masks, and images of Dazza singing from atop the bar or from the shoulders of the nearest willing male fan while pouring his own beer on his head.

Asked what we can expect from this first show, Dazza doesn't hesitate.

“Everything! Everything you want! Sex! Rock and roll! Drugs! Sodom and Gomorrah! Everything you want is going to be there!”

She’s already warned her bandmates to dress appropriately and wear “nice underwear.”

Calmer and wiser? Maybe. But the Vanne Dazza sitting at our table, wearing the same skeleton-print tights she wore at that farewell show, petting a Yorkie puppy in a tiny Miami Dolphins T-shirt (whom she introduces as Radioboxer’s new mascot, Leeloo Dallas) has more to prove than ever.

“I need this, for me. I need vengeance, because this was taken from me, and I want it back. We’re going to come back and take over the Magic City, because that’s what we do.”

Radioboxer. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 21, at the Hangar, 60 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-702-3257; hangar305.com. Cover is free if you dress like your favorite Quentin Tarantino character. 

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