Ra Ra Riot Interview | Playing Saturday @ ATJ Fest
I got an opportunity to interview Ra Ra Riot's guitarist Milo [website/myspace] prior to their playing the After the Jump Festival this Saturday. They go on around 5:00. While you browse the text below, check out this new remix they released. It's dope.
Ra Ra Riot - Each Year (RAC Mix) [mp3]
Milo answers thusly:
So you guys are from Syracuse. Did you all grow up in Western New York or just meet there? Is the live scene in Syracuse as non-existent as I may expect and did that encourage you begin to tour?
I am the only one from Upstate NY. Everybody else is from various places on the east coast ranging from the Boston area to Miami. We all just happened to meet when we were at school in Syracuse. There is no shortage of bands coming out of Syracuse, but there is definitely a shortage of places to see live music. Most of our shows took places in various attics, basements and living rooms of our friends' houses.
What are some of the cooler bands you've played with?
We just came off tour with Tokyo Police Club. It was our first official tour ever, so we don't have much to compare it with. However we all had lots of fun and most of the shows were really fun and successful. We are definitely looking forward to playing more shows with those guys.
When did things start to pick up for the band? You appeared on many of our blog-radars shortly before CMJ 2006 but I also read that you guys hadn't even been around long before then?
We played CMJ not knowing what to expect. We just assumed we'd be lost in the lineup and nobody would be at any of our shows because there were 1,000 other bands that they could have gone to see on any given night. Much to our surprise there actually were some people at some of our shows, and a few of them even wrote nice things about us afterwards. After that it began to seem like doing the band full time could be a reality.
Any funny or wacky tour catastrophes?
Well, about a week into our tour with TPC, their van broke down. Luckily, we had recently bought a trailer that was much, much too big for us -so we ended carrying all of their gear and t-shirts and them along with all of our stuff.
Your cover of "Hounds of Love" [mp3] just works so well with your style. Accident or intention? Would you consider Kate Bush an influence?
I think the first time we all heard Kate Bush's original version of 'Hounds of Love' we all immediately fell in love with it. Wesley is a huge Kate Bush fan, and he introduced the rest of us to her music. Lately we have been playing another one of her songs, called 'Suspended in Gaffa.' Kate Bush is definitely an influence to us all in different ways. Personally, I think she is a really great songwriter and she often has interesting song structures and arrangements.
You guys played South Street Seaport earlier this year, the first performance after tragically losing your drummer and friend John Pike. Was it a hard decision to carry on with that show?
It definitely was a difficult decision to have to make. It was an emotionally taxing show in a lot of ways and it was certainly quite difficult to prepare for it. We've played probably 30 shows since then, and it hasn't gotten any easier.
Have you written songs since then and has this affected the Ra Ra Riot sound? "Healing and Easy Listening"?
We have been working on a few new songs- they are still in the process of being completed. The "Healing and Easy Listening" heading on our Myspace page has probably been up for six months. It's just one of those things that has an entirely different meaning now.
I noticed "St. Peter's Day Festival" streaming on your myspace also. Can you tell my more about this song? It's one of those tracks I hope to hear on an album in its original demo rawness.
'St. Peter's Day Festival' was one of the last songs we had all been working on together before John passed. It was an idea that he brought to the table, and we were in the process of figuring out the structure and other instrument parts. The version that is on our myspace page is a demo he recorded on Garageband after we had all been working on it for some time. I think the intent of that demo was to remember a
specific vocal melody.
You released an E.P. this July and a truly brilliant remix of the opening track, "Each Year (RAC Mix)" last week [see mp3 linked above]. What's next for the band beyond the next tour?
We're releasing a single in the UK in October, and we'll be recording in November or December for a full length that will hopefully be ready to release by April.
If in absence of humans, bears and primates battle for dominion over dry land, who wins?
Primates. When bears hibernate, primates plot. When they wake up, primates attack and take advantage of their groggy foes.