Ra Ra Riot on "Superbloom" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Ra Ra Riot on “Superbloom”

Fully Pop, Fully Not

Aug 09, 2019 Web Exclusive
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Since The Rhumb Line debuted in 2008, Ra Ra Riot has brought their eclectic influences to bear upon straightforward pop constructs. Their songs, in short, are catchy and catholic, universal in their appeal despite an experimental edge that might work against the sonic grain in lesser hands.

Eleven years later, Ra Ra Riot have released their fifth album, Superbloom. The approach, this time around, was less about the rootedness of both musical sides in one cohesive tree. Instead, says bassist Matt Santos, the focus was more on the branches and where they could reach.

"Every record you make, you try to grow from what you learned on the last one," says Matt Santos. "I think on this record, we tried to hone in on our pop sensibilities but also our weird sensibilities, too.

"Instead of trying to combine them cleverly, I think we're learning more to embrace each of those things more purely, more fully, and let those impulses complement each other well. I'd like to think each record is a little bit more dynamic than the one before it. This one has the most songs on it and feels like the most fully realized version of the band to me."

"This record has a lot of similarities to things that we've done, like 'Bad to Worse' feels a bit like 'Water,' but it's the next step forward," adds vocalist Wes Miles. "It's not like we've made a hard turn and done something totally different, but then again, we've also done a few things different within the record.

"We've got a connection to things we've done, yet we've also produced some songs ourselves which we've never really done before. These songs were fully done ourselves in my parents' house, basically. They were self-written and produced and it felt really cool to do something that way."

Superbloom could be taken as a representative title of that blossoming sound, but Miles says it's bigger than that. The title made sense even in the band's lyrical approach.

"It's funny because you always name an album after you make these 12 songs that may have something to do with each other. You have to figure out how to package them or what they have to do with each other.

"The Superbloom concept was just one of those words that was floating around and kind of stuck because it was appropriate. It's also about these themes of earnestness and positivity and rebirth. There are these psychedelic, transformative kind of themes. Superbloom just felt like the perfect catch-all for all of these themes on the record."

Positivity and rebirth are important declarations in such a divisive cultural climate, and the members of Ra Ra Riotwhich also includes Milo Bonacci (guitar), Rebecca Zeller (violin), and Kenny Bernard (drums)were aware of rooting those ideals in Superbloom. Yet Santos says the most healing actions the band can take are to simply be true to themselves, to make the music they're meant to make.

"Certainly you can say that these are dark times," says Santos. "We're faced with planetary destruction by our own hands in any number of ways, but speaking for myself, I think we mostly feel that to do the best considering all of that is to do what we're meant to do, which is to make music. We stand up for what we believe in, but it's not just to tweet about stuff. We want to perform in a way that we care.

"There are some political things on the record because there are political things we care about, but I think it's important for us to be true to who we are. That means that we'll make music that we care about that will still mean something.

"Sometimes that means having a sense of humor. Some songs we might have cut because we were self-conscious in the past, but letting them through and leaving embarrassing things on the record because they are funny or beautiful in a way, I think that's how we fulfill what we're supposed to do. I think we're supposed to spread the joy we have in making music to other people."

"On a smaller scale in terms of working on the music, I think it's fun for us to use humor to sing about or write songs about more serious stuff," agrees Miles. "Then we treat silly stuff more seriously. I think that helps me deal with the world and everything that's going on.

"Taking the small things seriously is important, but it's also being able to laugh about the bigger or more serious things. That's important, too. Some of the silliest sounding songs on this record came out of a difficult circumstance. So I think that kind of balance is important because it helps to be able to look at things a little bit differently, almost like a back door."

www.rarariot.com

Ra Ra Riot have some newly announced tour dates for this fall, check them out here.

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