Syracuse natives return to perform at Mezzanotte
Indie dance rock band Ra Ra Riot will play at the Mezzanotte Lounge on North Salina Street tonight. The band is currently based out of New York City but is originally from Syracuse. The Daily Orange recently spoke with Ra Ra Riot’s guitarist Milo Bonacci.
Daily Orange: What’s the strangest experience you’ve had playing in Ra Ra Riot?
Milo Bonacci: We ended up going camping in Kentucky for a few days in the middle of a tour because we didn’t have shows for a few days. We had no food and no supplies and we ended up eating lots of cookies. We’ve also gone sailing in the Chesapeake Bay on a day off. We seem to keep entertained and do exciting adventures.
D.O.: Do you have any backstage rituals, either personally or with the band?
M.B.: Nothing I’ve ever been involved with or aware. We give out plenty of high fives to each other.
D.O.: You’ve said in previous interviews the band writes collectively. Is there a go-to member that lays down the initial jam, or does it vary?
M.B.: It really depends from song to song. Lately the songs we’ve been writing I’d say are completely collective. I think some of the earlier things that we were writing, there were a few people in the band that introduced more ironed-out parts.
D.O.: Whose idea was it to set the e. e. cummings poem ‘dying is fine)but Death’ to music?
M.B.: I think that was my idea. Shaw, sort of the ex-member, told me about this poem and he said he thought it would be cool to make reference to it. Actually I only knew about it through Shaw.
D.O.: In ‘Dying is Fine,’ is the string quote from the theme of Requiem for a Dream intentional?
M.B.: If it was intentional I’m unaware.
D.O.: Do you have a favorite venue in which you like to perform?
M.B.: I think Schubas in Chicago. When I was performing there, there were a lot of big wooden beams around and I felt like I was performing in a castle. It just felt really medieval.
D.O.: How many vehicles do you take when you go on tour?
M.B.: Last time we went out we had somebody’s grandmother’s SUV and another band member’s SUV. We had two SUVs, which isn’t the most efficient way to travel. Yes, two vehicles.
D.O.: Where do you sleep when you’re touring?
M.B.: It’s amazing because it’s six people and you pool their resources. There’s always somebody who knows somebody else in whatever city we’re in. So when those connections don’t come through … we have slept in the vehicles. We’ve actually had to pull up to the rest stop parking lot. I can’t remember if we were in Indiana or Ohio. We were on our way to Chicago.
D.O.: When you began playing with conventional string instruments did you find it necessary to adjust your playing style?
M.B.: Yeah, because there are so many melodic instruments in the band. Typically my guitar parts are simpler melodically or simpler harmonically. I don’t often play big chords with lots of notes in them. I kind of have to improvise things, or they’ ll get all muddled up.
D.O.: Is there anything you miss about Syracuse?
M.B.: I feel like I’ve been back there. I would miss Alto Cinco and the bread from Pastabilities. It’s mostly culinary.
If you go
What: Ra Ra Riot
When: Tonight, 8 p.m.
Where: Mezzanotte Lounge on North Salina Street
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