Ra Ra Rasputin,
A Work in Progress

Patrick Kigongo of Ra Ra Rasputin shares some thoughts on the band’s progress and inspiration in advance of this Friday’s 5-Year Anniversary Show with Miyazaki and Misun at the Black Cat. For a preview, check out shots from Ra Ra’s secret show at the Velvet Lounge a couple of weeks ago.

Towards the end of 2011, we realized that we weren’t taking enough time to write new material.  Most of the band’s time was spent running the set for upcoming shows. As a result, the arrangements for many of our songs weren’t “finished” until it was time to record. In an effort to be more efficient and productive, Brock, Joshua, Ken, and myself decided to take a sabbatical and put in some serious work.

Let’s Work It Out

After performing at Red Palace on February 24th, we blacked out our calendar from March until July.  Having played regularly since 2007, it was exciting (and daunting) to face the challenge of writing without distractions. The only deadline was the 5-Year Anniversary Show, which was eventually scheduled for late September.

The first month was pretty unstructured; there was a lot of jamming and tinkering with new equipment, but not much progress.  As winter became spring, new material began to take shape, but at a very slow pace. Because we were no longer working towards performing these songs “next week (or next month)” there was more time devoted to analyzing songs bar by bar, chord by chord, to see what worked and what didn’t*.

In late May we kicked things into high gear. We decided to meet more frequently to do a dedicated push on some songs while temporarily stopping work on others (e.g. “Living Room” and “Natural”—both of these were shelved for a month). The change of pace worked. By the end of August, we had seven songs, as well as several half-finished ideas in the pot.

*Yes, things could become a bit dry and clinical. But we regularly found ways to amuse ourselves between songs. We’d regularly jam on pop songs for a laugh. These included, but were not limited to, “Da Bomb” by Bucketheads, “Groove is in the Heart” by DeeLite, and Right Said Fred’s stone cold classic “I’m Too Sexy.”

Warming Up

Having spent months doing nothing but writing, we faced the task of incorporating the new songs into our existing body of work. Much of August was spent rehearsing everything.  Real talk, nobody wanted to play the 5-Year Anniversary Show without doing a test run onstage with a full PA system. After some debate (and upon receiving the Black Cat’s blessing), we booked a free dress rehearsal on Monday September 10th at Velvet Lounge. This would be a friends and family affair with no public promotion.

On the morning of the 10th, we sent out an email with details about the free show. Yes, it was a little audacious trying to promote a show without putting it all over social media, but it worked. Not only did we have a splendid time performing, it looked like the audience had a good time as well.

“Keep Moving Forward”

We’ve got a lot planned for the fall. We’re doing a mini-tour at the end of October with our friends Ringo Deathstarr and Dead Leaf Echo. Weekend trips to Boston and Pittsburgh are also in the works. As per the new material, we have plans to start recording this winter. Stay tuned, kids.

Inspiration, Motivation

Here are some of the albums that’ve inspired my bandmates and me during the last seven months.

Joshua (Guitar)

  • The Cure (Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography, The Top)
  • Duran Duran, Duran Duran and Rio
  • Assorted Jackson Browne songs (for vocal warm-ups)

Patrick (Bass)

  • Radiohead, Kid A
  • AR Kane, i
  • This Heat, Deceit
  • Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
  • Avalanches, Since I Left You
  • The Pretty Things, Parachute

Ken (Drums)

  • Holy Ghost!, Holy Ghost!
  • Four Tet, There Is Love In You
  • Zapp & Roger, All The Greatest Hits
  • Bob Marley, Survival
  • Underworld, The Anthology 1992-2012

Brock (Vocals)

  • Holy Ghost!
  • Pollyester
  • Sebastian Tellier
  • Various remixes
  • Miyazaki [Brock is currently mixing their debut album]

Top Photo by Omari Mayers-Walker | Concert Photos by Cesar Perdomo

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