September 19, 2008
Let’s be honest, Ra Ra Riot is a dumb name. It smacks of a long-forgotten inside joke that was never really that funny to begin with. It’s the kind of name that only appeals to its snarky initiators, as outsiders coolly practice articulating it (“RRR”) without coming off too obtuse. It’s the kind of moniker only a tight knit group not all that concerned with its perception would conjure
Ra Ra Riot (henceforth “Triple R”) doesn’t care what you think. They hope you like their music and they hope you like their shows, but these guys aren’t doing it to make you buy their records – they’ve got a much deeper inspiration.
The Syracuse, N.Y. outfit, which formed less than three years ago, has already been put through the greatest challenge any band can endure. They lost a beloved member. In the summer of 2007, original drummer John Ryan Pike died suddenly. At the time, the band had already toured the U.S. and the U.K. on the strength of a six-track self-titled E.P. Their songs were swirling into iPods across the globe and things were just starting to get exciting.
A less unified act may have considered calling it quits. Triple R didn’t even think about it.
“That wasn’t an option for us,” guitarist Milo Bonacci said. “We really looked at it as a reason to continue on. We felt a responsibility to record and play John’s songs to make sure that his creative legacy would be celebrated and remembered.”
So after a short hiatus to grieve, the band kept going. By year’s end they were in the studio recording their debut full-length, “The Rhumb Line” — the set is dedicated to Pike, who’s also credited with songwriting contributions – and soon after headed back out on the road.
Staying busy helped deflect some of the inevitable feelings of loss and sadness, but ultimately that wasn’t what it was all about.
“We really aren’t trying to get over this in any way,” Bonacci said. “Every day of us being together is like a continuing therapy session. We’re always going to think about John. This isn’t past tense, it’s still happening.” By Paul Saitowitz