Rah Rah: Rooting for a Good Time

Rah Rah’s US debut, The Poet’s Dead, is not only the best album title I’ve heard all year, but may better characterize this band’s own aesthetic than any album...

Rah Rah’s US debut, The Poet’s Dead, is not only the best album title I’ve heard all year, but may better characterize this band’s own aesthetic than any album title has managed this decade.  Rah Rah are an indie pop collective hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan.  There are six of them.  They swap instruments.  They utilize traditional rock instrumentation, in addition to violins and accordions.  Their live shows resemble children’s birthday parties (And I mean that in the best way possible.)  While their songs manage to strike powerful existential chords, there is nothing lofty about them.  In fact, they might be the most fun-loving band in the world actually worth listening to.

The Poet’s Dead drops this Tuesday, October 2nd, digitally, and physically on October 23rd on Hidden Pony Records.  Although it is their first stateside release, it is actually their third full-length and they already have a bevy of critical acclaim, including comparisons to Pixies and Arcade Fire.  Last week their music video for “Prairie Girl” premiered on Paste Magazine. I recently got a chance to chat with co-founder/vocalist/guitarist Marshall Burns about the band’s recent development, their upcoming tour, and his healthy appreciation of piñatas.

Izzy Cihak: How would you characterize the sound of The Poet’s Dead?  It’s actually the US’ formal introduction to the band, despite your previous two LPs.

Marshall Burns: I would characterize The Poet’s Dead as being a song-centered album.  What I mean by that is that all of the songs have been built from a basic melody and lyrics. The general music of the band, the arrangements, the harmonies etc. all developed from a core pairing of melody with words. In this sense, I think of Rah Rah’s songs as folk songs performed with rock instrumentation.

IC: There are quite a few of you in the band.  How do you feel as though all of your individual interests, influences, and backgrounds contribute to the band’s aesthetic?

MB: Each member of the band influenced the record in a unique way. Some of that stems from our own individual influences and also simply from the different instruments that we each play. For this album, in particular, I feel as if our producers Gus [Van Go] and Werner [F] were able to identify the strengths of each band member and really capitalize on our separate abilities.

IC: What is it that inspires your live shows?  They have quite a reputation.

MB: Our live show has developed organically from years of touring and always trying to think of ways to keep the show fresh for both us and the audience. Our songs are a lot of fun to play every night, but they are even more fun when we also smash a pinata, blow up big R, A, and H balloons or shoot off some confetti!

IC: Who would you consider to be your favorite performers, whether they’re musicians, like yourselves, or not?

MB: We got to tour with Minus the Bear a couple years ago. They put out great albums, which is one thing, but they also deliver an impressively long, and always very tight, live act night after night.  Their attitude of professionalism towards their music really struck me and is an influence. Otherwise, Neil Young is the greatest live performer I have ever seen – when he starts rockin’ out it’s just impossible to get bored.

IC: Do you have a fantasy of a show to be a part of, whether it be in regards to the other artists on the bill or the setting of the performance itself?

MB: Playing the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville or maybe The old Forum in Montreal (we’re big Montreal Canadiens fans…)

IC: What does Rah Rah have planned for the future?

MB: Our new record comes out October so we’ll be touring in support of that release all over North America for the rest of the fall and a good chunk of next year. Other than that, just making sure to eat our vegetables when we’re on the road and trying not to forget my mom’s birthday!


Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.