It’s last Tuesday and I’m sitting on a stoop across the street from Webster Hall. I’m with Kris and Erin from Canadian group, Rah Rah. The weather is perfect. In one hour, these two will take the stage with the rest of their band for a rollicking set, infused with bright, jangling pop. So, let’s get to it.
P&W: I just recently listened to your new album Vessels; one of my favorite tracks was your single, “Chip Off The Heart.” It’s so lighthearted and catchy but the lyrics are a little bit darker, more somber. I’m guessing that was intentional?
Kris: Yeah, in a way. I usually write songs when I feel a bit sorry for myself and then I don’t like how sad they are, really. And then the band says “Can you make this less of a sad song, more of dancey song?” (laughs). For that one it worked really well. I guess it was intentional!
What was the process like working on Vessels? How was it different from your earlier albums?
Erin: Well, it was kind of similar to our previous records of course, because we used the same producers. It was different in that we could just jump right in. We didn’t have to get to know them and there wasn’t that anxious meet and greet sort of thing. We could just get right into it and we knew what to expect. And we could still push ourselves. It seemed quicker, in a way. Everything just kind of fell into place.
Kris: A lot less nerves went into it. The first time they came and listened to our stuff, they said to practice a lot. (laughs) Which was really scary! But in the end it was really good. And so the next time, we knew what kind of pressure to expect. So that was good.
What is something that influences you, that most people would never expect when they listen to your new album?
Erin: I listen to a lot of Icelandic pop music (laughs). That’s probably something people don’t expect. They always ask us “What are your influences?” But each one of us listens to completely different music. I don’t know. I’m a complete nerd. Last time I was here, I spent a lot of money on comic books and…it was awesome. That kind of stuff keeps me grounded, in a way. A dose of reality, maybe, while we’re touring. Touring is wonderful and terrible, all at the same time.
Kris: I like that. Comic books are an influence on this album.
What is the biggest difference sonically between your first album and this one? What things have you managed to maintain?
Kris: Well for one thing, it’s recorded better. Much better quality. I think we’ve all improved personally, too. Our instruments, our voices. As far as the music, I don’t know. It’s tough because it never quite stays the same; there’s so many writers so we don’t really have a set goal for each song, it just kind of takes its own shape.
Erin: Maybe that’s what’s the same.
Kris: Yeah! Maybe that’s what’s the same. A mish mash of things.
Erin: We haven’t narrowed down our writers. I think we felt pressure from previous people we’ve worked with to pick a lead singer. But, we didn’t because that doesn’t really fit us. We kept that going through the last four records. It’s good.
Kris: I think we have a mix of pop and country going. We’ve kept a bit of the country and then took it more of a dancier route this time, which I’m into.
You can definitely hear it. Listening from one album to the next, you can hear the pop come through more and more. What has been the biggest change for you guys since signing with a record label?
Erin: It’s interesting to navigate certain pressures that we put on ourselves. I don’t think anyone really puts any set goal in front of you. Sorry, this isn’t making any sense.
Kris: No, no, yeah.
Erin: Hm. Especially women in the band. We’ve maybe felt pressure to look a certain way, or to dress a certain way. I think for a little while we felt that way, but then coming through that, working through that and realizing “Hey, I can totally wear jeans on stage and it’s not going to be a big deal.” I’m going to feel more comfortable and that’s going to show. I’ll be more confident, I’ll perform better. I don’t have to wear dresses. That’s kinda bullshit, in my opinion.
Kris: I think there is that pressure and it gets to you, for sure. We’ve just been undoing that process since then. I think our music and performances are better for it. Neither of us are really that kind of person.
Have you guys ever heard any of your songs somewhere you didn’t expect?
Erin: In our hometown, it was on satellite radio which was pretty cool. I was having brunch with my fiance. A tiny brunch spot with a bunch of strangers and it was our song, “Prairie Girl” and I was like (sucks in breath, laughs). It was so weird!
Kris: If it ever comes on in our hometown, at a bar or something, people turn it up. They think it’ll make me happy but it makes me kind of awkward! And then sometimes I start singing along, force of habit. Which is, even more embarrassing. (laughs).
What song are you itching to cover?
Kris: We were going to do “Young Turks” and then we realized, as soon as we brought it up, every band has covered it. We were thinking of-
Erin: Heart of Glass. But then, this band that we’re touring with is actually doing a Blondie cover too and we were like “Ok well, we can’t do that.”
Kris: Today we were thinking of that New York song, Jay-Z and Beyonce. (Points to Erin) She’s got an amazing singing voice-
Erin: Not Beyonce level!
Kris: And I like to pretend I can rap. Which I can’t, but (laughs).
What are some pre or post show routines you guys are cool with sharing?
Erin: We usually sing part of this Canadian pop group’s song…their band was called Sugar Jones. It was one of those semi-fabricated, televised pop group things that happened. You know, like OTown.
Erin: So it was like the female version, in Canada. And they had this hit song called “Days Like That.” So we sing just the chorus of that, because we can’t remember the verses. That’s what we do before every single set.
Kris: It’s like a funny, embarrassing song. It’s good but if anyone sees you…(laughs). No, it’s good, it’s good.
Last question: you’re about to take the stage at one of NYC’s most well known venues. Any last minute thoughts, observations, hopes?
Erin: I hope people show up!
Kris: Yeah! That’d be great. I hope there’s some people there, I hope they like the show, that’d be great.
Erin: We’re not in the massive room, we’re actually in the studio.
Sometimes it’s better to be a bit more intimate.
Rah Rah is on tour in Canada for the rest of October and return to the US, November 8th. Check out their tour details here.
Article: Stephanie Moise