Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes Interview

I highly recommend giving this excellent band a listen. They are based in Rhode island and have a unique sound, their primary instrument is a Rhodes piano, and the vocals are quite unique and exciting. Roz was kind enough to grant me an interview, here it is in its entirety.

Isaac- Do you listen to a lot of keyboard music? Gospel? jazz? classical?
What made you choose the Rhodes sound to be the primary rhythm instrument over say… an electric guitar???

Roz- I’m a classically trained pianist, turned jazz pianist, turned whatever I am now.  As for keyboard and piano music, I actually don’t listen to too much of it.  But what I do listen to has influenced me so much.  My favorites are Thelonious Monk, Herbie, and most importantly Chick Korea.   I was in high school when I first heard “Return to Forever” and it changed how I viewed music.  I thought to myself “What is that keyboard he’s playing, it sounds fucking sick”.  When I found out it was a Rhodes I new I needed one, or at least a keyboard that sounded like it.
I play a Nord Electro that gets a sound almost identical to the Rhodes.  You will be happy to know that I play an actual Rhodes on “the Friend Ship”.  Matt Decosta’s brother Mike received it from his high school music teacher and let us borrow it for the recording.  Needless to say when I found out we were using it I almost peed myself.  If I have a Rhodes, why would I play an electric guitar?  You feel me right?

Isaac- How do you write your songs? Tell me a little about the process? Your delivery is very… precise. I feel  I can hear the lyrics and put together a narrative the first time I hear these songs. It seems lyrics are an important part of the songs to you.

Roz- Lyrics are super important to me.  When I listen to a song for the first time I look for good original lyrics and music that plays like it hopes I keep listening.  I enjoy music that feels like it has purpose.  I’m not interested in anyone’s filler music or ideas based in attempts to make money.  I write my lyrics hoping people want to understand and feel what I’m talking about.  Lyrics, similar to musical composition, are open to all sorts of interpretation and that’s what make’s music so incredible.

These days the song writing process is more of a group effort.  Although I write all the lyrics, the music is entirely bits of each Rice Cake.
Ever since the edition of new bassist Justin Foster the band as a whole is contributing to all song writing.  Justin was a breath of fresh air for us.  He is extremely talented, loves to experiment, and most importantly, wants to play music at every given chance.

Isaac-Do you play mostly for over 21 crowds? did you have trouble booking shows when you were under 21? ( are you even 21 now?) is it important to you that you play all ages shows?

Roz- We have never had a big problem with age limits on crowds.  I recently turned 21 as did the boys.  We play to a pretty broad audience so all ages shows are super important.  We don’t want anyone to be left out.  We have only been turned away from one club for me not being of age and our response was “Fuck it, we’ll play some where else”.

Isaac- How did you record these songs? if you got to do a dvd commentary for the album- what are the inside scoops you could tell us about it?

Roz- Our recording engineer was a good friend and musician Matt DeCosta who fronts the Providence based trio Formal Action.  He engineered, mixed, and mastered “The Freind Ship” himself.  In terms of production, I would say it was a group effort.  We knew what we wanted the album to sound like and Matt made that possible.  He has a good ear.
We recorded the album with Matt in his living room in beautifully scenic Narragansett, RI.  It was the dead of winter and right near the beach.  It was probably the most peaceful setting we could have asked for.  Matt’s living room was covered in 70’s wood finished walls that made the acoustics in the recording’s sound natural and raw.  In the track “The Beating” you can hear a clock ticking behind my acoustic guitar and it sounds like I’m playing the guitar right in front of you.  That’s the vibe we were going for, the real deal.  Mostly live recordings.  We want it to sound like Casey is playing drums in your room.
We pretty much laid down all the live tracks the first day of recording in Narragansett.  Johnny (our then bassist) went home for the evening for a family party but me and Casey stayed over at Matt’s trying to record but mostly chilled, drank, and dabbled in illegal substances.  By 2 am Casey passed out but I was still awake and really inspired.  Matt and I were hanging out listening to some records and I said “I think I wanna throw down another key’s part on “Sing to Me”.  “Sing to Me” was the first song I was proud and I wrote it when I was 17 so it’s very near and dear to my heart.  Matt was down so he pressed record and I played a second backing Rhodes part.  For some reason I was so happy and inspired (and ridiculously high) that I started crying while I was playing.  I kept saying “it just sounds so beautiful!”.  I’m not a big crier in general so when I do it’s kind of a big deal.  Matt and I were laughing about it until the wee hours of the morning.  It’s too bad he was the only one there to witness it.

Isaac- Sum yourselves up in a quick little snippet for the website.

Roz-We are three kids out of Providence who love to play new and experimental music and hope to one day make a living off of it.  Until then, well there is no til then.  We’re just playing and having a fucking awesome time.

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