Ra Ra Riot grabbed a slot at the CMJ Music Marathon less than six months after forming on the campus of Syracuse University in early 2006. It’s been onward and upward ever since.
The sextet — which includes singer Wes Miles, guitarist Milo Bonacci, bassist Mathieu Santos, cellist Alexandra Lawn, violinist Rebecca Zeller and new drummer Kenny Bernard — released its 2008 full-length debut, The Rhumb Line, amid a rush of hype earned by the album's vibrant, instantly addictive Indie Pop, which was set apart by a deft rhythm section and the unconventional use of cello and violin.
Ra Riot Riot's 2010 follow-up, The Orchard, represents a change of pace that is evident from the get-go — the album-opening title track is spare, melancholy-drenched Chamber Pop kissed by the ghost of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys — before touching on everything from the jaunty, guitar-spiked fizz of the band's earlier efforts (“Boy”) to synth-aided songs that would have been right at home on 1980s-era Pop radio (“Foolish”).
CityBeat recently phoned Santos to discuss the band's move from Syracuse house parties to household name.
Ra Ra Riot plays with Pomegranates Saturday at the Mad Hatter in Covington. Go here to read Jason Gargano's full interview.