More Than Just 'Indie Rock With Strings': Ra Ra Riot On Evolving Together
Ra Ra Riot has been making music together for over a decade, and has just released its fourth album, Need Your Light. Fans of the band know that it incorporates string instruments with traditional rock ones — but in the early years, that fact threw some people.
"People probably expected a rock-y, party band to just be bass, drums, guitar and vocals," says singer Wes Miles. "They'd say 'What is that?' and we'd say, 'Oh it's a cello.' And, 'It's a violin.'"
The group got its start playing house parties in college. Miles says that's where he and his bandmates developed their exuberant sound, competing with the hum of young people having a good time.
"The house party vibe is not really a place to get emotional and quiet," says Miles. "So basically, when we started, we had to make sure the attention was always coming toward us — you know, being loud and a little crazy."
Ra Ra Riot decided to make a go of it after college — and having "indie rock with strings" as an angle helped it stand out. But a lot can change in the course of a decade.
After two albums, the members decided the description was confining. They started experimenting with a little less strings, and a little more synth. They said goodbye to their longtime cellist, and took some time off. But the core group is grateful for the way it's been able to evolve together.
"It's a sibling sort of relationship," Miles says. "And all the flaws and all the insecurities, we've gotten really good about navigating around them. You know, you just have to accept people how they are and love them for what they do for you."
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