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Hailing from Rock City, Australia, aka Melbourne, Riff Raiders are gearing up to leave their dent on the Rock & Roll community with their debut album A Million Miles Away.
Cutting their teeth with faithful renditions of B-sides from Led Zeppelin, Queen, and other greats of the scene, Riff Raiders have earned a rep as a band who can, well, rock your socks off. The first single from the album, Live Like You Mean It, sees frontwoman, Jenny, lead the charge atop a solid old-school rock groove. The gods of Aussie rock would be proud.
Ahead of the release of Live Like You Mean It, we spoke with guitarist and creative force Marty Powell.
Hysteria: So, you’re prepping your big debut album. What can we expect from the release? Is this gonna be the defining statement of Riff Raiders, or more of a snapshot of who Riff Raiders are right now?
Marty: Yeah, that’s a really interesting way to put it. I suppose it is a snapshot of where we are because we don’t know what’s coming next, but we’ve really worked hard on the set of songs that are on the record. The band’s called Riff Raiders so we try to mix up the style of songs. It’s all rock music, but just to give it different examples of classic rock stuff that’s been done before us.
Yeah, it’s definitely an exciting way to do it. We put a bit of pressure on ourselves in writing the songs in a reasonably short amount of time, and also recording it with a lot of spontaneity to make sure it had that sort of freshness and excitement that you want when you buy a record.
You guys didn’t make it easy for yourself. You picked pretty much one of the last remaining genres of music that is just insanely difficult to tackle. You look back at some of the greats, as you guys used to perform some of the classics of the genre. I imagine you guys had some pretty high standards for what you wanted this album to sound like. Is that right?
Yeah. That’s spot-on. I wanted to do music that was challenging to play, but the good thing about those classic 70s bands is they still didn’t get too slick about it. So it still has that nice, for want of a better word, that indie edge to it as well. They didn’t get too clever. So we wanted to keep that rawness there, but also, yeah, you’re right. When you’re playing someone else’s music it is tricky. So I think it helped our chops a lot and made the band nice and tight to pull off some Sabbath and Zeppelin sort of things, and Thin Lizzy.
But going to the originals, I didn’t want to sound like those bands either. So it’s a bit like what The Darkness and other bands have achieved; you’re considered retro but you actually have to be new and fresh in the way that you’re doing it. So, in writing the songs I made sure that I had to remember the riff. I committed them to take later on, and yes, I did use a tape because I wanted to be that old-school about it. But, if I couldn’t remember the riff or the hooks then I thought no one else was going to, so it put that pressure on as well.
Fans can sink their teeth into Live It Like You Mean It. That song is very much in the world of old-school rock, but it’s got this modern edge about it, it’s not so flimsy. It’s strong, it’s got solid structure. Is that what you’re kind of trying to achieve with the music?
Yeah, absolutely. I thank you for saying it too. We got a female vocalist, so that gives a different spin to it. So, that music can be perceived to be sexist, so how natural the lyrics went in that regard. It’s really for everyone. You want your music to be accessible. And just mixing up with the format a bit. So, putting a few riffs into it. I remember bands like The Oils [Midnight Oil] and others, Muse and others made sure that the songs are quite dynamic and keep moving.
It feels as so that there’s a positive rock message behind Live It Like You Mean It. How well does that set us up for the rest of the album? Is it gonna be a similar, sort of, ride or is this a bit of a stand-out track?
I think there’s a couple of other tracks that are in this vein. But as I said, we mix the styles up a bit so there’s a little bit more progressive, sort of, rock on it, but not in an extreme way. But a different groove. A little bit of a grungy approach as well, and just a straight-ahead rock & roll like Live Like You Mean It. So, we did wanna mix it up a bit. A bit of the 70s … Well, once again, like maybe The Black Crowes or Lenny Kravitz might go at it, but with a harder crunch and power to it.
So, there’s a eleven songs. Made sure I didn’t go more than thirty-eight minutes. But yeah, it’s pretty punchy ride. There’s no ballads on it, that’s for sure.
All killer, no filler!
No filler? Nah, exactly right. If it didn’t cut it even in the pre-production stage, we just ditched it. We were pretty ruthless, so we didn’t want any filler in there at all. And I think that the great sort of records, when they used to be records, you’d have 18 minutes each side, you’d flip it over, and you’d want to do it again. Just like you do now when you shuffle through music.
If there was any genre of music that just resonated incredibly strong with Australians, it’s rock & roll. You know, I feel as though it’s in our blood to enjoy it. I mean, there’s nothing quite like stumbling across a straight-up rock & roll band and being able to go, and just hold your beer, and watch them rock out. So, are you getting some good feedback from the fans?
Yeah, absolutely. And when we were doing the cover set, they were reasonably obscure songs if you weren’t into these bands so much. So that was quite exciting live. But what’s new for this is no one’s actually heard these songs live yet. We’ve gone off and I’ve recorded them, so the initial buzz we’re getting from Live Like You Mean It has been fantastic, so I can’t it out there and for the broader people to hear it. Because it’s a bit of a surprise, because no one quite knew what we’d come up with. So, yeah, that’s gonna be quite exciting to see. A little bit bold, we wanted to get our whole album together and go out and work that, and still mixing some of the classic tracks live as well, and we’ll keep writing more songs until it’s all original is the idea.
Listen to the entire interview on Hysteria Radio!
Riff Raiders will launch Live Like You Mean It at a matinee show on Sunday, September 17th at The Workers Club, Fitzroy. Doors are at 1pm.