Interview Ra Ra Riot

The boys fill us in on everything that’s been going on since they released their debut album.

Recently, DIY got a chance to talk with Matt and Milo of Ra Ra Riot before their LA gig. The boys filled us in on everything that’s been going on since they released their debut album ‘The Rhumb Line’, explained why they plan to avoid Canada, and how deciding where to go for dinner has become their biggest challenge.

You’ve just set out on a long American tour. How is it going so far?
Milo - Very long.
Matt - It’s tough to say when one tour starts and the other ends. We have been on the road since August. The shows have been going really well so far and we’ve been looking forward to tonight’s show.

‘The rhumb line is waiting there too’ is a line from St. Peter’s Day Festival. What is it about the concept of the rhumb line that inspired you to make it the album title?
Milo - There’s a lot of significance. It’s a line from one of the songs that John had written. It just started to make sense and just went with different points in different songs. It sort of made it all cohesive.

The album has been very well received since its release in August. You guys all put jobs and school on hold to pursue the band and making an album. Was it a relief to have gotten so many positive reviews?
Matt - Yeah. I mean, when we all left school and jobs and everything we didn’t have anything tangible to justify it, just touring a lot. So we worked two years building up to the album. Once we had it recorded we were excited about how it came out but we still had to wait eight months until it was released. There was a lot of anticipation and anxiety mostly. An album is what really makes a band. Especially with a first album, like a lot of our peers were putting out great albums that were being well received. I think the first good press we read about it was the Rolling Stone review. It got a four star review so once that happened we calmed down and thought that maybe other people might like it too.

You guys have done a lot of traveling, what are some lessons that you have learned from being on the road?
Milo - Don’t leave your valuables in the van.
Matt - We lost everything. We left the van in Montreal for literally ten minutes and it was on a big street like this. And we had all our cash in the van but as we were leaving Becca said “can you grab me ten dollars for my stipend” so I just grabbed the whole thing luckily.
Milo - We still lost 5 laptops and demos and photographs.
Matt - Top lesson don’t trust anybody.
Milo - And avoid Canada!
Matt - I don’t want to knock it but all I know is every time we have been there we’ve gotten robbed. Even last time we were in Montreal we got our navigation system taken and your [pointing at Milo] toothbrushes and stuff!
Milo - Yeah, my contact lenses. I think someone thought it was a camera bag.
Matt - But I guess a happier lesson we have learned is it’s always fun to get out and do some sightseeing. One of the best parts of the jog is getting to do all this traveling.

The chorus of ‘Dying Is Fine’ is largely inspired by E. E. Cummings. Does literature play a big part in your music?
Milo - Yeah it does.
Matt - I know Wes and John got a lot of lyrical ideas from the books that they were reading. That one in particular was your idea wasn’t it?
Milo- It was a collaboration with Sean.

What is one of your most memorable encounters with a fan?
Milo - You’ve been brought cupcakes on your birthday!
Matt - That was the most wonderful encounter! It was my birthday and she brought me cupcakes. I don’t know how she found out it was my birthday. I always think about things like this and then when someone asks me I can’t come up with anything. Yeah the things that honestly come to mind are bad things, some creepy guys.
Milo - Probably best not to talk about those!
Matt - Let’s just say cupcakes.

Ra Ra Riot is a pretty large band with six people in it. Is it hard to get everyone to agree on the way a song develops or the direction the band is going to take?
Milo - The decision making process is extremely drawn out.
Matt - I think honestly the easiest part is the music for us, it’s more like deciding where to go to dinner. We just started to learn, oh we don’t always have to eat together! I feel we have to make every decision a democratic process.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals that you will be participating in before tonight’s gig?
Matt - Usually we stand in a circle and put our hands in and have like a team huddle, a little pep talk. Usually I like to have Gabe, our drummer warm up on my back. It’s kind of like a free massage! Maybe a few stretches. Sometimes if it’s a big show we’ll all take a shot before we go onstage.

And finally, what does the near future hold for Ra Ra Riot?
Milo - Well we are gonna be on the road until May. Then after that we just have some festivals lined up, like Sasquatch.
Matt - Hopefully we get a lot of time off this Summer. At least that’s what we have been promised to get us to behave. And then by the end of the year we should be in the studio.

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