Ra Ra Riot at Stopover
8 p.m. Thursday at Ships of the Sea.
Read more of Do's Stopover coverage HERE.
The Savannah show also marks the first time Ra Ra Riot will perform in the area, and lead vocalist Wes Miles says the band is excited to finally make a stop in Savannah.
Ra Ra Riot began about seven years ago as a basement band performing student dance parties in Syracuse, N.Y. They quickly gained notoriety for their debut album “The Rhumb Line” and began extensive touring before recording their second album, “The Orchard.” Their third album, “Beta Love,” came in 2013 after some membership changes and brought the band from upstate New York to Oxford, Miss., where they recorded at Sweet Tea, the studio of producer Dennis Herring, known for his work with Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, Wavves and more.
The band released their fourth album, “Need Your Light,” in February and will kick off their tour in Albany, N.Y., before heading down to Savannah. Along with Miles, Ra Ra Riot includes Mathieu Santos (bass), Milo Bonacci (guitar), Rebecca Zeller (violin) and Kenny Bernard (drums).
Miles says kicking off their new tour in upstate New York, where they are based, was the best way to begin because it’s been more than two years since the band was on a “real tour.”
“We’ve had a lot of good shows there, and it’s always good to start in a more intimate setting,” he says. “That’s usually the best way to get the gears turning again and get comfortable.”
Critics have claimed that “Need Your Light” is a return to the band’s house party roots without abandoning the more heady soundscapes they explored with “Beta Love,” and Miles says he agrees with that claim.
“One of the main things we wanted to focus on was having the sounds on the album translate to a live setting. When we finished ‘Beta Love’ we were like, oh god, what do we do now? How do we get that sound to play live?
“Getting into the touring mode was a major goal of ours. Our greatest strength is our live shows and having that translate to a record is really tough. One of the other goals came as we looked back on our career and saw the house party days were definitely the kind of energy we wanted to capture. But it’s not really the same kind of music; it’s more about the energy and the way we incorporate a sense of humor to it.”
Miles says the band did a couple of house parties last year as an exercise to get in the zone for the studio. The new album was recorded in five different locations while working with Herring again on several tracks before going to Los Angeles to work with Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), then heading to Seattle to work with Ryan Hadlock (VanceJoy, Blonde Redhead). They also worked with Andrew Maury, producer of their second album, in Brooklyn and recorded several tracks in Santos’ apartments in Milwaukee.
“The process was about letting the songs go where they needed to go without any really preconceived notions about them,” Miles says. “In Mississippi, when we were done, we had to be done, but with this, we made sure we had time to do it. From the beginning ... we told management and the label that we weren’t going to rush to another record ...
“We wanted to do it right and let it sound the way we wanted and not be done until we were done.”
Miles says the new album is the band’s proudest moment in a long time.
“It’s already translating live and it’s feeling really good and the reception has been great. We are proud we decided to work in a certain way and it’s been fruitful.”
Miles says the show at Stopover will be the band’s first time to play a show in Savannah, and the audience can expect to hear songs from all of the band’s albums, including “Need Your Light.”
“We are still figuring out what the set list will be for the tour in general, but we always try to throw in a few curveballs and fun things. We are just really excited. This is only one of very few festivals we are playing this year because we’ve heard of a lot of great things about Savannah.”