Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Playing the Riot act at Bluesfest

Brooklyn indie band takes to stage

Ra Ra Riot - Trapped Credit: Doron Gild

Starting out as students in Syracuse, New York, five years ago, the members of Ra Ra Riot saw their star rise quickly with the release of The Rhumb Line in 2008, which landed them a spot on David Letterman and a world tour with friends in Vampire Weekend.

Combining violins and cellos with a melancholic rock sound, the six-piece indie “chamber-pop” band is eagerly jamming out their next album in Brooklyn. We spoke with bassist Mathieu Santos.

“This has been our first big chunk of time off since we toured the whole year The Orchard came out [in 2010]. People are bringing more individually and switching up their instruments for more fun live songs,” Santos says.

The band has some interesting, and arguably Canadian, tour traditions: “We play a lot of street hockey,” says Santos, “We’ve got a spot in our trailer just for hockey equipment.”

As for Canadian musical influences, in lyrics especially, Santos pauses, “I’ve been meaning to listen to more Joni Mitchell. You want people to find meaning that they can relate to.”

Given that the band’s most recent single was “You’re Too Dramatic,” it’s surprising to hear of dramatic experiences happening to them in Canada.

“Not to give Canada a bad rep,” says Santos, but “we were robbed a couple of times the first time we played.”

Whatever bad experiences they’ve had in Canada have now been smoothed over with their close relationship with their label, Arts & Crafts, a Toronto indie label. “We had this big [barbeque] cook-out with them a little while ago.”

Ra Ra Riot is about to get back on the road, starting with Bluesfest.

“This summer is kind of funny because it’s a lot of random shows here and there. One week we’re in Ottawa, Philadelphia and then Japan. It’s like a big fun family vacation.”