In Conversation With . . . Rah Rah

Rah Rah is a new band from Regina whose recently released first album, Going Steady, is already a hit on campus radio and CBC 3.

The following are notes from a conversation that took place a week into their cross-Canada tour, between Wanda Waterman St. Louis and the band’s lyricist, Marshall Burns.

?If not for the language barrier, I might marry her, I might marry her.
If not for the geographical obstacles, I might marry her, I might marry her?
Although?she has tentacles.
I’m in love with the tentacles.?

?Tentacles,? from Going Steady

Where We Got Our Name

A former band member, Kyrie, came up with the name. I heard on the radio that in Haiti a rah-rah is a kind of street jam.

Saskatchewan: Breeding Ground for Hopped-up Musical Geniuses

We were all born and raised in Regina. Saskatchewan bands have been doing some really great things in the last few years. There’s a lot of member-sharing; Library Voices musicians played on our record. Even though the bands on Young Soul Records all sound different we all sort of share a mentality and come from the same sort of spot. From necessity you stick with the people whose music is honest. (There’s a lot of metal bands here.)

Regina has a pretty vibrant arts scene. My parents are pretty involved in it so I’ve always been around that. There’s an older generation of really good musicians here who have always been supportive of us younger people. they’re always finding us gigs and helping us record and lending us guitars and stuff like that.

Fearlessly Moving East

It was the band’s decision to take the tour all the way to the east coast. we’re really excited about going there. Some of us have been to Nova Scotia but we’ve never played there. None of us has ever been to Newfoundland.

The Process

It’s a pretty big band so often not everyone’s there for rehearsals. But different people bring different ideas to the table, like a keyboard riff or a guitar riff. Then we start jamming it together, trying it several different ways and working out a melody. The songs come together surprisingly quickly?in an hour or two. We work really well together; everyone’s so involved, and all our ideas get heard.

The Lyrics

I try to find unique ways of talking about things. Everyone has pretty similar experiences, I think, and the same songs have been written over and over. So if You’re going to write about something like a relationship you’ve got to find your own way to talk about it.

Stuff I Like

I’m a really big Neil Young fan. And a big Wilco fan. Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, those guys who just seemed so straightforward in their songwriting.

There are a lot of painters I really admire, too: Rousseau, Miro, Rothko. They were all finding new ways to express the same old stuff.

I just saw this film about Wilco called I’m Trying to Break Your Heart. It goes through their whole process of making an album, losing band members, and trying to feed their families. Their label drops them and they have to find a new one.

Where I Stand

I’m more or less left-leaning in my politics, for fun, mostly, because I like to shock people. In the recent provincial election the Conservatives got a huge victory. Before that Saskatchewan was NDP for 15 years. And Saskatchewan is where the NDP was born, of course.

I believe in being truthful. In my songs I sing about heartbreak, loss, and love, but those are things everyone shares. We all have similar experiences. We aren’t that different.

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