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MUSIC: Interview with Roz Raskin of Roz and the The Rice Cakes

Friday, April 04, 2014


Photo: Kendra Rose Photography

What a ride it has been for Roz Raskin & The Rice Cakes, going from playing shows at Firehouse 13 before the place even had a stage to being the toast of the music scene right here in lovely Providence. With Roz's lyrics that hit your soul like an anvil crashing through a 5 story building and landing on a sofa along with the musical genius coming from Casey Belisle on drums and multi-instrumentalist Justin Foster playing nearly everything, there's no wonder to how this indie-pop trio has become such a success since their start in the late 2000s. At The Met tonight The Rice Cakes will be bringing a party to ring in their second album Need To Feed. I managed to have a chat with Roz about the show, the album, experiencing fame in your hometown, abiding by a DIY work ethic and many other things.

Rob Duguay: Tonight The Rice Cakes will be celebrating the release of their second full-length Need To Feed at The Met in Pawtucket with Dr. Jones & The Shiners and The Low Anthem sharing the stage. I have the chance to listen to it for a while now and I'm convinced that the album will be the launching pad for you guys to gain wide recognition, what was the process like making the album and was there anything done differently than on past recordings in terms of production?

Roz Raskin: Glad you like the album Rob. The recording of this album was different than other experiences recording in many ways but it was as organic and as much of a great learning experience as it always is. The songs were written over a year and a half so are very different sonically yet share a similar energy. Working with The Low Anthem's Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky in the studio at The Columbus Recording Company was very comfortable and having them co-produce it with us was helpful in discovering what the end product should sound like. We also worked with Keith Souza and Seth Manchester at Machines with Magnets who were able to provide a whole new mixing and perspective on the project. We like to experiment and we are lucky to have worked with people that were so patient with us.

R.D.: I remember back in the day when you were wearing an adorable pink wig and were playing solo acoustic shows at the old Ben & Jerry's off of Thayer Street in Providence and now you and The Rice Cakes have become one of the biggest independent acts in the Northeast while gaining traction everywhere else. How do you handle this growing fame that's been around you as of late and do you ever feel nervous or alienated when you walk into a room where everyone knows who you are?

R.R.: Thanks for supporting me and my music for so long Rob! Those days of the pink wig were super fun, met a lot of awesome people and musicians back then. I'm a Providence townie so I just know a ton of people because of living here for so long. I'm stoked that more people are hearing us these days!

R.D.: Other than impeccable musical talent and beautiful originality, what I respect the most about The Rice Cakes is the adherence to a DIY work ethic and doing things on their own terms. What inspired the band to go that route when you see other acts hiring a manager, publicist, agent, etc.?

R.R.: I think I've always strived to have us be part of a community that was open to different kinds of music. People find so much comfort in genres and playing strictly within those genres which has always made me feel stifled. The DIY communities we're met here in Providence and on the road are very open to new sounds and I find that inspiring.

R.D.: If you had to pick any musician that influenced you to play music the most, who would it be and why?

R.R.: That's a hard one. I think originally Gwen Stefani and the early No Doubt records were a big influence on me vocally and songwriting wise. But later I got into a lot of jazz vocalists and keyboardists, I listened to tons of Lauren Hill, Destiny's Child, Ben Folds Five, and The Pixies in high school, The Mars Volta changed the way I thought about musical arrangement, Radiohead taught me about the atmosphere music can provide. I'm leaving a ton out but those are some that come to mind immediately.

R.D.: There are rumors floating around that The Rice Cakes might be actually getting signed to a label by the end of the year, is there any truth to that? Yay or nay, what can fans expect from The Rice Cakes for the rest of 2014?

R.R.: I can't say too much beyond the fact that we are going to be touring as much as possible, releasing new music, and working with some awesome people. More to come!

More to come is definitely right, expect even bigger things to come from Roz & The Rice Cakes before the end 2014. As someone who has had the pleasure to see this band grow for nearly a decade, I can't wait to see what this trio does next. Get yourself a copy of Need To Feed at The Met tonight and make sure you stick around for the show, you won't want to miss it.


Related Slideshow: 13 Biggest Music Stories in RI in 2013

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13. Macauley + Carlton

Local music legend John Macauley of Deer Tick, and world renowned singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton came to Providence in January to headline a show to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

Here is music critic Rob Duguay's review of the show:

This past Saturday at the upstairs stage of The Columbus Theatre on Broadway in the heart of the West End of Providence, a magnificent display of music took place to benefit The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. Deer Tick's John McCauley & Ian O'Neil, Vanessa Carlton, Smoota and Caroline Hecht were on a star-studded bill for an experience that was guaranteed to be a memorable one. It's always great when talented people come together for a worthy cause, and in this day and age this was needed more than ever. Read More

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12. Carolina Choc Drops

Bringing an eclectic mixture of Piedmont blues, country, ragtime jazz, and traditional folk, the Carolina Chocolate Drops came into town to headline a Sunday night show at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in April.

GoLocal Music Critic was there for the show, and he claimed this to be one of the best shows he attended in 2013:

Class was in session Sunday night at Lupo’s as theCarolina Chocolate Drops provided a crash course in traditional African American music. Their style, which fuses Piedmont Blues, jug band country, ragtime jazz and traditional folk, delighted the crowd. Sounding straight out of a juke joint in Mississippi, (or North Carolina, where the band hails from), their music is infectious. Read More

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11. Artistic Explosion

Featuring some of the best local acts from all different genres, GoLocal music critic Rob Duguay organized the first annual Artistic Explosion Music Festival, a week-long multi-venue show to raise money for Girls Rock! and the Rhode Island Music Educators Association. 

By all counts, the event was a tremendous success.

Read more about the event here

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10. 24 Hour Music Project

For the second straight year, Kim "Giggles" Madden put together Providence's 24 Hour Music Project benefit. This year, all proceeds from the event and concert went to benefit music education in Rhode Island's public schools.

Rob Duguay was on hand for the CD release party in October:

One of the most inspiring things I've encountered in Providence is the 24 Hour Music Project. Started by Kim "Giggles" Madden last year, a star-studded compilation album of the Creative Capital's finest musicians benefits victims of domestic violence. This time around, another album was made to benefit music education in public schools, another noble cause with an ensemble cast of local musical talents. On Sunday at The Spot, the release of the second 24 Hour Music Project album was celebrated with an amazing show that had Dan Dodd, Dylan Sevey & The Gentlemen, Wake and Baker, P. Lowe, Galactic Alliance and Resin ED jammin' on two stages. There's no better way to spend your Sunday than supporting a great cause, and the Spot was the prime destination to do just that. Read More

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9. Colexico at The Met

Tuscon Arizona's Colexico, according to GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams, sounds like "a Tex-Mex meal - you don’t always know exactly what’s in it, but it tastes delicious."

Well, Colexico paid a visit to the Ocean State in June, and Abrams was in the crowd for the festivities. 

Read Ken Abrams' Review Here

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8. Buddy Guy

Since Park Theatre massive renovation and reopening, the Cranston venue has become a great spot for live music in Rhode Island, and have drawn some very impressive names. 

In October, blues legend Buddy Guy stopped by, and music critic Ken Abrams was there: 

Last Friday night at the Park Theatre, the nation’s leading ambassador of the Blues made a triumphant stop in Rhode Island. For the second consecutive year, Buddy Guy filled the Park to its 1006-seat capacity, a rare feat for a performer labeled a “Blues” artist. Before the night ended, it was clear why – he is one of the finest performers on tour today. Read More

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7. The Temptaions

Legendary Detroit Motown band, the Temptations stopped by Cranston's Park Theatre in December, bringing with them their classics. 

Music critic Ken Abrams was front and center for this once-in-a-lifetime R&B experience:

A warm welcome greeted The Temptations Sunday night in Cranston as the Park Theatre hosted a sold out show by the legendary Detroit band. The award winning R&B group thrilled those in attendance with classic hits along with some new songs. Read More

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6. Chris Cornell

Legendary Seattle grunge rocker Chris Cornell is known for rocking hard with Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and Pearl Jam; but when he came into Providence in November, he left the wires behind for an acoustic show on the newly-renovated stage at The Vets:

Normally, one would think of Chris Cornell as the vocalist who can peel the paint off walls with Seattle legends Soundgarden, but recently he's been doing a solo acoustic tour that's been getting a lot of attention. This past Tuesday he made a stop at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium for an experience that exuded soothing songs that hit straight to the heart. Bhi Bhiman opened things up as well, it was going to a memorable evening. Chris Cornell at his genuine best, what more could you ask for? Read More

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5. B.B. King

What could be better than a warm summer night in Newport?  How about when you are there to see THE name in Blues, BB King? Well, GoLocal Music criticRob Duguay was lucky enough to be in attendance for this show at the Newport Yachting Center in July:

As a live music fanatic, when I hear that a legend is coming through The Ocean State it's a no-brainer that I have to come check it out. When it's a bluesman like B.B. King performing, saying its a no-brainer is a vast understatement, it's more like a spiritual expedition. The King Of The Blues headlined a fantastic night at The Newport Yachting Center as part of The Sunset Music Series with Providence rocksteady soul group Boo City opening up the show, you knew it was going to be one of the top shows of the summer. The whole time I was here I had to remind myself that one of my favorite musicians of all time in B.B. King as well as pinch myself a few times. The guy is pushing 90 and still tours like he was in his mid-20s and still can strum Lucille better than anybody else, Newport was definitely the hotspot for a once in a lifetime chance to see a musician who will go down as one of the greatest ever. Read More

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4. Bob Dylan at URI

Legendary singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan passed through the Ocean State in April, making a stop at URI's Ryan Center.  GoLocal music critic Ken Abrams made the trek down to South County for the show: 

Bob Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” rolled into the Ryan Center on Monday night. The band is currently on a college campus swing, and featured a new addition, RI’s own Duke Robillard on lead guitar. Read More

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3. Sir Elton John

A Dunkin Donuts Center crowed was graced by the presence of music royalty in November when Elton John came into Providence for an unforgettable 28-song performance:

Elton John made a triumphant return to Providence Saturday night, making the Dunkin Donuts Center the second stop on his Diving Board Tour. Expectations were high for the near capacity crowd and Sir Elton did not disappoint. He covered a number of hits in his 28 song set, including a full album side from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Read More

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2. The Who

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend; the remaining members of one of the most highly-celebrated rock and roll supergroup of all-time, the Who, finished up the US leg of their World Tour at the Dunkin Donuts Center in February:

On Tuesday at The Dunkin' Donuts Center in downtown Providence, rock & roll legends The Who rocked the joint for the last show of the United States leg of The Quadrophenia and More Tour that has been sweeping the globe since last year. Opening the night were Los Angeles' rock & roll souls Vintage Trouble and it was bound to be one of the memorable shows in Providence's music history. There are rock bands and then there's The Who, it was very clear that the best way to enjoy the first half of your week was to be at The Dunk on Tuesday. Read More

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1. Newport Festivals

Summer in Newport -- shopping, beaches, sailing, dining, and LIVE MUSIC. Aquidneck Island comes alive when the weather warms up, and once you get beyond Thames Street, music festivals dominate the scene.  In 2013, GoLocal' music critics were on hand for three great music festivals in Newport:

Sunset Music Series- Featuring Chris Isaak and The Doobie Brothers

Celtic Rock Festival- Headlined by the Dropkick Murphy's 

Newport Folk Festival- Featuring Beck, John Macauley, and the Avett Brothers


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