Photo By Vanessa Heins
There's an unmistakable romance to the touring musician, traveling from town to town to greet, share a song and promptly bid adieu. Marshall Burns, of Canadian band Rah Rah
described the group's latest installment, The Poet's Dead
as an investigation of the band's own vagabond lifestyle. After three or four years of almost perpetual touring, with all the on-the-road glamors of couch surfing, the band still harbors a seemingly inextinguishable desire to travel and perform. "Why do we still wanna keep doing this, where is that coming from?" were some of the questions they posed over the several month sabbatical they devoted to the album.
While touring sounds exhausting, it seems like a fitting way for Rah Rah to be spending its days. As a band of multi-instrumentalists with a constantly changing lineup, just as every town is a new experience, every song becomes its own unique puzzle, in which "any combination is possible." It seems unlikely that the band's artistic process will get stale, as its flexibility "leaves so many doors open."
Since Marshall's first concert, in which Canadian band "Tragically Hip" performed in a hockey rink, he's appreciated the power of live performance. As a career musician, this has become especially true. He explains that, "Every time you play or watch a band, that changes you in some way." He cites the members of Wilco as particularly inspiring; "the highest class of professions," "incredible musicians" who still "have a lot of fun" each time they perform. Rah Rah toured with Minus The Bear, who Marshall describes as always "ready to go, rocking out awesomely" every night.
Each of the six musicians brings their own flair to the mix. Marshall's partial to Neil Young and Bob Dylan -- "songwriters that really have something to say." The band's process is as varied as their lineup, some of their songs have come together through jamming, in an "organic" way, while some have been the brainchild of a single artist."There's been the whole spectrum," Marshall explains. Just like you can't get inertia when you're always headed to the next town, the band "hasn't had a chance to fall into any kind of formula."
Their spontaneity and whimsy is perhaps best seen live, whether they're shooting off confetti cannons or breaking heart-shaped pinatas. Rah Rah defies convention at every turn. Their pursuit of, above all, excellent music and a damn good show has taken them from their native Saskatchewan, across Canada and, recently, into the states, and we doubt that the tour van will be packing up anytime soon.