Ra Ra Riot

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Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot playing at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.
Ra Ra Riot playing at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C.
Background information
OriginSyracuse, New York, U.S.
GenresIndie rock, baroque pop
Years active2006–present
LabelsRebel Group
Arts & Crafts México
Only in Dreams
Associated actsDiscovery
MembersWes Miles
Mathieu Santos
Milo Bonacci
Rebecca Zeller
Kenny Bernard
Past membersJohn Ryan Pike
Shaw Flick
Cameron Wisch
Michael Ashley
Gabriel Duquette
Alexandra Lawn

Ra Ra Riot is an American indie rock band consisting of vocalist Wes Miles, bassist Mathieu Santos, guitarist Milo Bonacci, violinist Rebecca Zeller and drummer Kenny Bernard.


Ra Ra Riot formed in January 2006,[1] playing at houses and venues around the Syracuse University campus.[2] They recorded a demo in February 2006. The band started to attract attention due to their energetic live shows, enough to gain an appearance at the CMJ Music Marathon, fewer than six months after their formation. Following this appearance, their live show received the first of several favorable reviews from Spin, who called them "one of the best young bands we've heard in a really long time".[3] They went on to open for Art Brut and Bow Wow Wow in New York City, toured the UK twice on their own,[4] then returned, opening for the Editors[5] (footage of which can be found on Crackle); they also toured North America supporting Tokyo Police Club. Their first solo headlining tour of the U.S. was completed in 2007, and in early 2008, they embarked on a second.[6] The band was also invited to play the Iceland Airwaves Festival in Reykjavík, Iceland. They recorded three sessions on the national online radio station WOXY and three for the acclaimed[7] Daytrotter sessions at Futureappletree Studio 1 in Rock Island, Illinois.

In 2007, they made their first appearance at South by Southwest and headlined a show at the Seaport Music Festival in New York City. The band returned to appear again at the South by Southwest Music Conference in March 2008.[8]

On June 2, 2007, at 3 a.m., the band's original drummer, John Ryan Pike of Hamilton, Massachusetts, went missing under suspicious circumstances at a party at Wilbur's Point in Fairhaven, Massachusetts after a show in Providence, Rhode Island. A search party discovered his cellphone on the beach at Buzzards Bay. His body was discovered June 3, 2007 at 4:10 p.m. in Buzzards Bay; Pike was believed to have drowned. No foul play was suspected.[9] Ra Ra Riot issued a statement a few weeks after Pike's funeral that they would continue as a band.

In July 2007, an eponymous six-song EP was released on the Rebel Group label. In the winter of 2007, the band signed to major label V2 Records. To celebrate their new label deal, Ra Ra Riot released "Dying Is Fine" and "Each Year (RAC Mix)" on 7" vinyl as an A/B single. In December 2007, the band announced that they had finished recording songs for their debut studio album.

On May 19, 2008, the band announced that they had signed to Barsuk Records. They released their debut album, The Rhumb Line, on August 19, 2008 in North America, and on September 22, 2008 in Europe via V2/Cooperative Music. The music video for "Can You Tell" won Best Music Video at the 2009 Finger Lakes Film Festival on November 7, 2009.

In the spring of 2009, Barsuk released the Can You Tell EP, featuring remixes, early demos and live recordings. The band released their second studio album, The Orchard, on August 24, 2010.[10] It was produced by Ra Ra Riot and Andrew Maury. Nine of the 10 tracks were mixed by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, while one was mixed by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij.

In January 2011, Ra Ra Riot were nominated for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards in the Pop/Rock Album category for The Orchard.[11] Also in 2011, their song "Boy" was featured in a Honda Civic commercial and used in an episode ("A History of Violins") of the TV show Royal Pains as well as in an episode of Shameless. On February 10, 2012, cellist Alexandra Lawn announced that she was leaving the band.

The band's third studio album, Beta Love, was released on January 22, 2013, coinciding with a live worldwide Internet broadcast of the band's concert that night at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. The album was the band's first full-length since the departure of Lawn and marked a shift in their musical style away from their earlier baroque pop and more towards synthpop.[12] A video was produced for the song "Dance With Me".[13]

On February 19, 2016, Ra Ra Riot released their fourth studio album, Need Your Light. The album was produced by Ryan Hadlock (Lumineers, Vance Joy) with additional production by Batmanglij, who produced and co-wrote the title track as well as the popular single "Water."

On May 17th, 2019, the band shared a new song, “Flowers”, along with the announcement of their fifth studio album, Superbloom. The album, released on August 9th, saw the band collaborate with Rostam once again.


Current members[edit]

  • Wes Miles – lead vocals, keyboards, occasional acoustic guitar (2006–present)
  • Mathieu Santos – bass guitar, backing vocals (2006–present)
  • Milo Bonacci – guitar, keyboards (2006–present)
  • Rebecca Zeller – violin, backing vocals (2006–present)
  • Kenny Bernard – drums, programming (2011–present)

Former members[edit]

  • Shaw Flick – lead vocals (2006)
  • John Pike – drums (2006–2007; died 2007)
  • Alexandra Lawn – cello (2006–2012)
  • Michael Ashley – drums (2007)
  • Cameron Wisch – drums (2007–2009)
  • Gabriel Duquette – drums (2009–2011)


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions

US Indie

The Rhumb Line
  • Released: August 19, 2008
  • Label: Barsuk
109 14
The Orchard
  • Released: August 24, 2010
  • Label: Barsuk
36 6 7 12
Beta Love
  • Released: January 22, 2013
  • Label: Barsuk
69 16 11 23
Need Your Light
  • Released: February 19, 2016
  • Label: Barsuk
20 15 29
  • Released: August 9, 2019[18]
  • Label: Rob the Rich Recordings/Caroline
"—" denotes album that did not chart or was not released



Year Title Peak chart positions Album

2007 "Each Year" The Rhumb Line
"Dying Is Fine"
2008 "Ghost Under Rocks"
2009 "Can You Tell"
2010 "Boy" 34 The Orchard
2011 "Too Dramatic"
2012 "Beta Love" 45 Beta Love
2013 "Dance With Me"
2015 "Water" [A] Need Your Light
2016 "Absolutely"
2018 "This Time of Year" Superbloom
2019 "Flowers"
"Bad to Worse"
"War and Famine"
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released


  1. ^ "Water" did not enter the Oricon Singles chart, but charted at 53 on the Billboard Japan Radio Songs.[20]


  1. ^ "Ra Ra Riot returns to campus for concert in Setnor Auditorium". SU News. October 23, 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  2. ^ Bialczak, Mark (3 April 2011). "Ra Ra Riot revisits Syracuse University area with an ever-growing resume". The Post-Standard. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  3. ^ "SPIN.com – We Depict a Ra Ra Riot". SPIN Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  4. ^ "Ra Ra Riot announce debut UK shows". NME. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
  5. ^ "Ra Ra Riot to accompany Editors on tour". 2007-09-17. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  6. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Amped for Tour". Pitchfork Media. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  7. ^ "Best Music Blog Winners". Nielsen. Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  8. ^ "Ra Ra Riot listing at SXSW festival". South By Southwest Festivals and Conferences. 2008-01-19. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
  9. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Drummer John Pike Found Dead". NME. 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  10. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Ready New Record | News". Pitchfork. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  11. ^ "Ra Ra Riot". Independentmusicawards.com. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  12. ^ Martins, Chris (2012-11-13). "Ra Ra Riot's Dancey 'Beta Love' Swaps Strings for Synths, Reinvents Band | SPIN | SPIN Mix | Songs". SPIN. Retrieved 2013-02-06.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ a b "Ra Ra Riot Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Chart History: Alternative Albums". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Chart History: Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  17. ^ "Ra Ra Riot Chart History: Rock Albums". Billboard. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  18. ^ Bloom, Madison (May 18, 2019). "Ra Ra Riot Announce New Album Superbloom, Share New Song "Flowers": Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  19. ^ "Billboard.biz". Billboard.biz.
  20. ^ Billboard Japan Radio Songs | Charts | Billboard JAPAN (in Japanese; retrieved February 11, 2016)

External links[edit]