ATH Interviews: Ra Ra Riot

rarariotOn their recent stop through Austin with Death Cab for Cutie, we had the chance to interview Syracuse indie-rock band Ra Ra Riot.  We spoke with bassist Mathieu Santos about the state of his band, his favorite music of 2009, and how his band has survived through some major adversity.  Follow the jump to read our entire interviewwith Mat.

ATH: This band has gone through some major adversity in losing a member a few years back.  How have you come together as a unit to persevere through it all?

MS: Well, we ultimately decided that the best way for us to deal with our immeasurable loss was to continue together, sharing the music that we made with John, and trying to accomplish all of the goals that we had set together. As difficult as it was at first, we always felt that we were doing the right thing by continuing. We see it as both a celebration of John and the wonderful music he brought to the band, and also as a collective healing process.

ATH: Not long ago, you guys were playing college house parties and now you’re touring Europe and playing with Death Cab For Cutie.  How do you think you got such sudden success?

MS: At first, our goals weren’t that lofty – we just wanted to get a band together for the semester and try to have some fun. Once things kind of picked up, though, we decided to see how far we could take it, so we just started touring as much as possible.

ATH: Same sort of question… What’s been the hardest adjustment to make moving to huge tours with huge bands as opposed to a gig at someone’s house? What’s something you maybe miss about those days?  The days of doing things on your own.

MS: I definitely sometimes miss those extremely chaotic early shows – the intimacy and the immediacy were very very exciting to me, and that’s obviously hard to keep up in larger venues. We can’t really just put down our instruments and run into the crowd on a whim anymore!

ATH: You are about wrap up a huge North American tour.  What are you looking forward to most about some much needed down time?

MS: Just being in one place for more than one day, and having my friends and family around to do lots of fun summertime activities with. Hopefully I’ll be motivated enough to do some music-making, painting, and exercising as well, but I think right now my first priority is sleep.

ATH: After the success of Rhumb Line, when can we expect some new material and do you have any idea of where you may go with it is at this point?

MS: We’ve got a lot of new rough ideas in the works, and we’re planning on ironing a lot of them out this summer. Right now we’re shooting for a spring 2010 release, but that’s only if everything goes to plan, which it of course never does. Everyone in the band is getting into new and exciting things, and so we’re really eager to see to where these new influences will direct the music.

ATH: What’s the best album of 2009 so far?

MS: Admittedly, I haven’t been at all up-to-date with what’s going on this year. I had unreasonably high expectations for U2’s No Line On The Horizon. So far I’d have to say the best album is Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion – that set a pretty high standard for the year early on.

ATH: You’ve been to Austin several times.  What’s a thing or two you look forward to when coming into town?

MS: Austin has kind of become a home-away-from-home for us over the past couple of years. We’ve spent a lot of time here – the past 3 SXSWs, and the many shows we’ve played here on our own. The city has such a distinct and charming (albeit almost overwhelmingly rowdy) atmosphere that’s always refreshing on tour. We, of course, always end up somewhere on Sixth Street, and eating some barbeque or Best Wursts. There’s also one of the best Whole Foods in the country, which we never miss, and
Waterloo Records is a great place to spend lots of money.

Many thanks to Mat and to Ever at Barsuk records for helping us out with this.

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