When a band takes long instrumental tangents, there’s a lot that can go wrong. After those initial three minutes of jamming, things can start to become stagnant if the right groove isn’t there. This has never been an issue for grandiose rockers RAQ, who, despite always delving into long jams onstage, carve out melodies and harmonies that are both chaotic and also completely and utterly organized at the same time. And although RAQ has drawn close comparisons to bygone jam-rock purveyors like Phish, this Vermont four-piece combines funk and psychedelic influences into a highly addictive package that finds its contents timeless and ripe, all the while steering clear of copyism.
“As a band, I think it comes from the individuals creating their own styles and a sound that is their own. We all have our unique styles and when you put that together, hopefully the band will have a unique sound.”
The band’s brand of jam music is pure — merging progressive rock stylings and seemingly endless guitar solos — something that organically transpires after sharing the stage with someone for over 13 years.
“When you’re in a band for a long time with somebody, you kind of have an idea of what they’re going to do before they even do it,” says Stoops. “There’s this weird telepathy going on where I can look over stage left and see Chris [Michetti, guitarist] just kind of give me a look and I know what kind of moves he can make right there. Some of those moments you can kind of speak without having to talk.
With such insurmountable chemistry and improvisation on stage it’s a shame that RAQ’s touring schedule has taken a backseat to the members’ other musical projects. Nevertheless, increased touring with their other bands has not only intensified clamor for more RAQ shows from diehard fans, but has also procured popularity amongst those new fans.
“Our other bands are touring so much that its popularizing RAQ,” says Stoops. “It’s like a reverse popularization. We have our core fans, but now there are a lot of new faces in the crowd that I don’t think we would have seen had it not been for Chris’ project, Conspirator, or my band Kung Fu being on the road. There are a lot of people that are coming out to these shows and have seen the band like a 100 times and the person standing next to them, it could be their first night. That’s kind of neat, to have people with varied experiences with our music, throughout the crowd.”
While RAQ has played a few three-day runs since their initial hiatus in 2007, the band’s most recent return comes with a renewed vigor. “We’re really in the zone right now as far as making up stuff on the spot. We played an hour set the other night with the Disco Biscuits, during which we didn’t stop playing the entire time. We kept going from song to song; just building these segues in between. Walking off the stage we all said, ‘this is it, this the stuff people like,’ and we’re doing it pretty well right each night. If something is going right we’re going to stick with it.”