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Published: 2013/12/12
by Rob Slater

Todd Stoops Talks RAQ’s Return to Burlington and What Lies Ahead

Despite not hitting the road hard over the last few years, your fans still show up and pack the rooms. What does that say about them as well as your live performance?

I owe my entire career to the RAQ fans, really. It was kind of a right-place/right-time thing, but RAQ really grounded out from 2002 to 2008 all over the country touring. In doing so now, I’m touring with Kung Fu and we just finished a 20-day east coast tour and every single night on the East Coast—no matter where we were: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida—every single night there were RAQ fans. And they were asking what festivals we’re gonna do next year. And they’re Kung Fu fans as well and they’re there and they’re jamming and they’re cool, but they’re waiting around at the end of the night to talk about RAQ. And that’s a really humbling feeling that, by an outside chance, music that I might have written or Mischetti might have written when we were eighteen or nineteen years old has touched some people to the point where it’s still affecting them now. That’s a really humbling feeling.

And I like I said, I personally owe everything that I’m doing now to those people that were dedicated and followed us around, and spread the word by word-of-mouth because that’s the best kind of press you can get: when someone vouches for your band to a friend or brings a friend to a show, and so-forth and so-on. That’s kind of how this whole jamband scene was created. You know, dragging two or three of your friends to a show, whether they’re kicking and screaming, and at the end of the night they say, “Wow, I want to see this band as much as I can.” So, the fans are really what it’s all about. That said, we have been talking about playing more shows and actually taking some time—I know Conspirator is really busy and Kung Fu is really busy—but we’re actually taking some time to be able to play together a little bit more than we have in 2013.

Would you say the positive feedback over the course of the Kung Fu tour inspired RAQ to plan some additional shows?

No, honestly we had such a blast – some of the shows we played this year were some of the most fun we ever had in RAQ. We do have a new drummer now and that brings a new energy and a new change. Mischetti and I, we were kind of like school kids at the Catskill shows. It was ridiculous. After our set, we stayed up all night and just hung out and talked. It was great. We’re really old friends, we kind of grew up together and we did all this together.

So I guess the answer is that we just wanna all hang out together and because we’re so busy in our other bands, the only way to do it is either we’re at a festival where Conspirator and Kung Fu are playing or it’s RAQ and we’re playing New York City or Philly or Boston or something like that—or Burlington or Atlanta or some of the places that we would play—and then we get to hang out for a week. And that’s where we’re at right now. And you know, there’s really nothing better than making music with your best friends on stage. There’s just no feeling like it. And you play better too, it’s great when everyone loves each other—it’s a bro-down—and it’s a great vibe. That’s kind of the impetus behind playing. We just want to all hang out.

How about a triple bill? How about Conspirator, Kung Fu and RAQ all go on tour together? Just tour the whole country!

[Laughs] I don’t know…

Some managers might have something to say about that

It’s not even that. Oddly enough, a lot of people suggest that to us. They say it to Chris, Brownie and Magner, and they say it to me and Adrian. At the end of the day, it would just be ridiculous. Everyone’s working triple duty, double duty, you know? It’s just a lot. Kung Fu is a made of a lot of bands. Kung Fu is not like RAQ. I think Kung Fu has like almost one percent improvisation where most of it is soloing, and RAQ is mainly improvisation. So we’ll get through the first form of a song, and then almost every song that we play—at least the way RAQ is playing nowadays—every song will give ourselves a section to stretch out. So I think it would be a lot; it’s too much medicine on one spoon for people to take.

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