Riot Squad

Ra Ra Riot cheers on the rebirth of college rock.

Indeed, Miles and Pike created many tunes together using spontaneous methods that were extensions of their close relationship off stage. When they'd sit down to assemble new material, Miles explains, "we would kind of be riffing and singing, and I would try to make up words on the spot, and he would edit them and throw something back at me, and then I'd say something else. It was very involved for most of the songs." Belting tunes composed under such intimate conditions — especially the one titled "Dying Is Fine" — was especially difficult for Miles in the beginning. "It's something that I had never imagined would happen. I never thought I'd be the only one of the two of us who'd be listening to it for the 200th time," he concedes. "It was shocking, and very difficult to come to terms with that truth. But now it definitely feels better to be thinking about how he's still a part of this."

And he is. For Ra Ra Riot's Barsuk/V2 debut, produced by Ryan Hadlock, whose engineering and production credits feature the Afghan Whigs and the Foo Fighters, the players took another swing at several of the EP's compositions, and Miles is certain that "St. Peter's Day Festival," penned by Pike, will make the final cut. But while the new album is his top priority, he's also part of another band, Discovery, which pairs him with keyboardist/guitarist/singer Rostam Batmanglij from none other than Vampire Weekend. Far from dividing his attention, Miles believes that this kind of multi-tasking — a throwback to his schooldays — enhances his creativity at every level. "You've got different outlets, different stylistic inspirations that you're able to bounce back and forth," he argues — and that's important, because "there are choices you can make in one band that you can't in another. That gives you a release in another project. You get to do everything you want. Just not all at the same time."

The result is a lifestyle pretty much like the one Miles envisioned when he was making racket in the basement with Koenig long before their voices changed, and he doesn't expect to alter his course anytime soon. "It still feels like the right thing," he says. "Even though we're kind of a small band in terms of what we've done in our career — we're very young — it still feels like we're on the way. I guess we're succeeding in our short term goals. That's something to be pretty proud of."


Westword Music Showcase, with Drive-By Truckers and over eighty of Denver's best acts, 2 p.m. Saturday, June 14, 12th and Acoma, $18, 303-296-7744.

Visit Backbeat Online for more of our interview with Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles.

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