At San Francisco’s Oysterfest earlier this month, we sat down with Wes Miles, the lead vocalist of the  New York based band, Ra Ra Riot.  Though he would like to think of himself as a really great knife, we, as well as his girlfriend, can attest to the fact that he is an all-around nice guy and talented vocalist.


SFCS: What would you say is your favorite place you’ve ever played at? Your favorite venue and favorite show, if those two are different.

WM: Well, we played at the Bandshell in Central Park in New York. That was, that may have been my favorite show ever. That’s like, it was, at the time I was living about ten blocks away from there. And it’s kind of like, sort of this historical landmark, you know, especially for music. And being in the park, yeah, and I think they let in like six or seven thousand people, and then there were a couple thousand scattered around the outside of the fences, too. So it’s like one of our most, one of our best attended shows, too. Yeah, that’s probably a favorite.

SFCS: And if you could play any venue, or any festival, or any sort of, it doesn’t even have to be a venue, any location, where would you love to perform?

WM: We’ve played at most of those places. We played Barclays Center, that was really cool. We played in Japan and all sorts of fun places.

SFCS: That’s so cool. So what would you say the band’s biggest accomplishment is so far?

WM: Well, the first thing that comes to mind was when we first started, in a couple weeks we made like a kind of half-joking, half-serious list of things to do that we wanted to do by specific dates. And we set some goals, and one of them was play in Japan by 2012 or whatever it was, it was probably earlier. But we eventually made that goal, you know, we put out a couple records. So yeah, every little thing like that is super cool.

SFCS: That’s incredible. If you could take credit for any song and claim it as your own, what would it be?

WM: I wouldn’t want to do that.

SFCS: You wouldn’t?

WM: I wouldn’t want to do that.

SFCS: Alright, admirable.

WM: Actually, I really like the David Byrne and Brian Eno song, actually Poolside covered tonight, “Strange Overtones.” That’s one of my favorite songs. That would be great; that would be fun to cover. Also a Zeppelin song, because I grew up listening to so much Zeppelin. I would always sing all of Robert Plant’s stuff. So some Zeppelin song, any Zeppelin song.

SFCS: That would be great. What’s the last show you attended as a fan?

WM: As a fan? I went to a show last week, which was one of our manager’s new bands, called Sun Club. They were really cool, really young. And we were all kind of like,you know, in awe of the youthful energy. You know, kind of like looking  back in time at what we may have looked like back then. It was cool. And also they played with Saint Rich, who’s a friend, who’s friends of ours.

SFCS: That’s awesome. Where was that?

WM: That was in Brooklyn. At a venue called Baby’s All Right, very cool venue.

SFCS: When you have a day off on tour, what do you do?

WM: When we’re on tour, usually we’ll try to play street hockey. We have a net, sticks, and balls and stuff.

SFCS: And you bring them on tour with you?

WM: Oh yeah, gotta have the outlets.

SFCS: What’s on your current playlist? What are you listening to?

WM: That’s a good question. Let’s see, I’ve been listening to a lot of Thundercat. He is an amazing, amazing bass player, and just an unorthodox songwriter. Really, really love it. Delicate Steve, it’s been on there for a while, but I still listen to it a lot. Yeah, those are the two main things that come to mind. Oh, also, King Ghidorah, MF Doom and stuff, some hip-hop. You know, keep it diversified.

SFCS: I love it. And if you could be known for something other than music, what would you want that to be?

WM: Ah, that’s good. Well, in college I majored in physics.

SFCS: Wow, respect.

WM: [Laughs] yeah, so I might want to do something with science. My girlfriend’s a doctor, so lots of science. I love it, yeah, something with that.

SFCS: Alright. So last question. If you were a kitchen utensil what would you be?

WM: Oh… Well, I’d like to think that I would be a really good knife.

SFCS: Because you’re sharp?

WM: Yeah, well I’d like to think so. But I’m probably more of, like, a garlic grinder or something. Something really specialized. Not universally useful, but…

SFCS: But when you are used, you do a good job. And always smell vaguely like garlic.

WM: Yeah, yeah. That’s true, too.


Photo credit Ra Ra Riot: