Interview: Ra Ra Riot

Interview and photos by Jess Phoa.

On Nov. 29, I went to the Passion Pit and Ra Ra Riot concert at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia and had the opportunity to go backstage and interview Mathieu Santos, the bassist of Ra Ra Riot, before the show.

Ra Ra Riot is releasing its third full-length album, Beta Love, on Jan. 22. Here I talk to Santos about the best television shows for touring, his spirit animal, the band’s upcoming album, and more. Check out the full interview below.

Mathieu Santos, bassist of Ra Ra Riot (photo by Jess Phoa)

Jess: On your Facebook page, it says you like “Spaghetti, Scramble, and Planet Earth” is that true?

Mathieu Santos: Milo makes amazing spaghetti

Jess: Is it a family recipe?

MS: He studied abroad in Florence as an architecture student and brought back with him some amazing sauce recipes. So we eat lots of spaghetti as a band, we do play lots of Scrabble, and Planet Earth, so yeah we do love all of those things!

Jess: Do you have a favorite food aside from spaghetti and if you could have a sandwich, what would you want on it?

MS: My favorite food aside from spaghetti, that’s a great question. Well, when I’m home I eat a lot of amazing Portuguese food, and that’s probably my favorite food.

Jess: You’re Portuguese… are you fully Portuguese?

MS: I’m half, my dad is fully Portuguese and my mom is fully French so I’m 50/50 and they each grew up in their respective gene pools.

Jess: Are you multilingual?

MS: Ahh, no… I speak a little French, no Portuguese. My sister, though, is a French major and speaks really good French. Portuguese food is definitely my favorite food and so I would have to say that the cacoila sandwich, which is a Portuguese marinated pork, it’s delicious…it’s unbelievable. That’s like the first thing I do whenever I’m home, go straight to the amazing Portuguese restaurants in New Bedford, MA.

Jess: You watch Planet Earth, do you watch anything else? Do you have movie nights or something like that?

MS: There’s a lot of show trading on tour. I know a couple of years ago, everyone was really into The Wire, we did all of The Sopranos

Jess: I know Breaking Bad is pretty popular right now.

MS: I don’t know if anyone is watching that, but I know Wes [Miles, vocalist for Ra Ra Riot] has been into Game of Thrones, Becca’s been into Girls. There’s lots of TV watching on tour. I usually just watch sports mostly, but I’ve been rewatching The Sopranos recently.

Jess: So I understand you’re a huge Bruins fan, but what about the rest of the band?

MS: Wes is a huge Devils fan, ‘cause he’s from New Jersey. Becca’s also from Jersey, a fairweather fan, “Oh did they win?” [laughs]. Everyone puts up with it, that’s probably accurate. Listening to us talking about it at dinners and stuff. If they win, we’re happy and they’re also supportive if we’re going through hard times too.

Jess: How are you coping with the NHL lockout?

MS: …well I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask me about this [laughs]. It’s been really tough on us. We have our fantasy hockey league, it’s been on hold for a bit. The hardest part is that I’ve been boycotting my Bruins merchandise, which is a good portion of my wardrobe. I’m in just the apathetic stage of “Okay, who needs those bums…” Every night I’m home in my apartment, “Oh the Nets are playing…” then I watch 30 seconds of it and I’m like, “What am I doing? I can’t get into this.”


J-Walking: Falling In Reverse

At the beginning of the month, I attended a Falling In Reverse concert at Stage AE as part of their headlining tour, “The Thug In Me Is You.” I normally don’t listen to much post-hardcore music, as it’s one of those genres that I tend to only seek out through particular artists. In fact, I appear to be one of the least likely candidates to go to a concert of this nature, taking into consideration the music I tend to play on my radio show. I will admit that this was my first post-hardcore concert experience and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. My primary interest was the chance to see Enter Shikari live since they rarely pass through the U.S. at my convenience.

The performance opened up with letlive., a group from Los Angeles that I wasn’t familiar with at all until the day of the show. They were… entertaining, at best. Jason Aalon Butler, the lead singer, was utterly incoherent and I would have needed closed captioning to understand what he was attempting to convey to the audience. It was like watching a bunch of circus monkeys, with Butler performing destructive stunts that resulted in a blown out speaker. I especially liked it when he grabbed the metal barricade, violently threw it down towards the floor, wrapped his hands around the bars like he was trapped in a prison, and then repeatedly attacked it. At the conclusion of that song, he explained that his act was representative of “breaking down the barriers of society” and I lost any remaining respect I had for them as a band.

Thankfully, Enter Shikari proceeded to take the stage to make up for letlive.’s mediocre efforts. They began the set with some songs from their latest album, A Flash Flood of Color, which was released in January. A friend of mine had only good things to say about Enter Shikari’s stage presence, but both of us felt that they were a bit lacking. I later came to the conclusion that I probably felt this way mostly due to the concert repertoire for the evening: It was predominantly material from their earlier years, which I didn’t recognize as much. Nevertheless, I will give them credit for selecting tunes that meshed better with letlive. and Falling In Reverse’s styles. Even though I was a bit disappointed, I would love to see what Enter Shikari could do as a headliner.

Before Falling In Reverse took the stage, they decided to test the audience’s patience by playing a silly cat video to lighten the mood followed up by an introductory video that satirized Ronnie Radke, the lead singer, as the president of the United States. The entire venue erupted into cheers and screams when they finally came into view, bringing with them an incredible energy that I have never before encountered in all of the other concerts I have been to.

Let me be frank: I was floored. Something that really stuck out to me was Falling In Reverse’s ability to connect with their fans. For instance, Radke pulled out a Terrible Towel and swung it around as he cheered for the Steelers, an action that definitely made the night that much more memorable. Although Falling in Reverse is a fairly young band, all of its members have had prior experience in other groups, which adds to the overall musical skill of the band. They succeeded in reeling me in to wanting more and they have raised my expectations for future concerts. I walked out of there knowing that this first post-hardcore concert was definitely not my last.

Photos by Jess Phoa.

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