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Published: 2017/10/26
by Matt Reed


What will the show look like for fans that maybe haven’t seen you recently? Are you planning to throw in some classic RAQ songs as well as maybe some of the new material?

Todd: It will be a mix of the “Foo-Q-Azi” theme, in addition to some of the classic RAQ stuff that we love. RAQ is self-indulgent for us, we get to play the old tunes that we love—some of the stuff that we’ve been playing since the early 2000s and always have fun with.

This will be the first new studio album since Ton These over a decade ago…

Todd: Yes it is! 12 years! We released Ton These in 2005, and used that as a vehicle to tour pretty steadily through 2008. My son was born so I took some time home with the family, and eventually we all started working on different projects and working with other musicians, etc.

What’s the recording process been like so far? You mentioned that Michetti is heavily involved, given his experience producing other material.

Todd: Definitely! Chris has become one of the best producers I know. We weren’t really in that space in 2005 for Ton These, or on the earlier albums. That said, there are a lot of new ideas, and definitely a new approach at doing this. A lot of the recording we’re doing together, but some of it is also done remotely. It’s tons of fun and we’re all really excited about it.

And this will be all original material?

Todd: It’s definitely going to be original music. Unless something completely crazy happens!

Could you also talk a little about the songwriting process? Has material been bubbling over this last decade, or is this newer material that has evolved more recently?

Todd: Another good question! This new album will have RAQ songs that we never recorded but have performed live. But…there’s a lot of creative energy flowing right now, so the possibility of new music is high!

Do you write together, or mainly bring your own stuff to the collective table?

Todd: A lot of the real classic RAQ stuff we wrote together. I would write some of the ideas on my own, but I’d go over to Chris’s house and sit down with him and we’d finish it together. Or we’d go over to Jay’s and finish it with him. And as we evolved…when we got our first rehearsal studio space in Burlington, Vermont, back in like ’02, we had this process called “The Whiteboard.” We’d put whiteboards up and write down the original skeleton of an idea, and everyone would have a chance to flush their own ideas out. It gave everybody equal songwriting exposure. We all had our own individual ideas portrayed, and everybody was part of the process.

On the upcoming East Coast run, Goose is supporting RAQ on all five nights. Is there any potential for collaborations during the run?

Todd: Oh, I’m sure! We love to mix it up! We like to have the best time possible. RAQ is fun. That’s been our model for years—basically, “If it’s fun, we’re doing it.” We like to have fun. And fun is coming!

You’ve already touched on this, but looking forward to the next couple years, do you see RAQ remaining at the top of everyone’s priority?

Todd: We all have a bunch of different music to express and get out there to the world, but we’re definitely going to put effort into RAQ and tour as much as we can. I have a family, and everyone has their own different responsibilities that would keep us from jumping in the bus and getting out on the road for five months, or something like that. I don’t see that happening, but I do see us putting more time and focus into RAQ.

Are there any other special events in the works?

Todd: There are some things in the works, but details have yet to be completely ironed out…

You mentioned that you’d all continue working on other projects. Are there any other new projects underway?

Todd: I’m in a new project called Katharsis. It’s Dave Watts [The Motet], Marcus Rezak [Digital Tape Machine, Shred is Dead, and others], and Chuck Jones [Dopapod].

You guys just played in Denver, right?

Todd: Yeah! We just played in Denver a couple weeks ago. We’ll absolutely be doing some playing in 2018. I also have some shows coming up with John Kadlicek [Furthur], Jay Lane [Furthur, RatDog, Primus], and Robin Sylvester [RatDog]. That’ll be in California. So lots of stuff will be happening next year.

You all seem comfortable being involved in a variety of projects, which brings us back to where we began the conversation. What drives you to maintain such a variety of creative vehicles?

Todd: One night you may want Vietnamese, and then one night you want a steak, and the next night maybe it’s Italian [laughs]. Personally, I treat it like changing up the menu. I try to make time for every project that I possibly can. That said, collectively we are members of about 15 bands!

You posted a video of your son playing the keys recently. Does he ever get to come out to your shows?

Todd: He does! As much as school and being a 9 year old allows. I brought him onstage in front of thousands of people at Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut a few years back, and had him help me play a solo… That was pretty epic for the both of us! He’s been playing the drums since he was three, and playing the piano since he was old enough to stand up and bang on it. Nothing makes me more proud than watching him grow as a human and as a musician…

That seems like a special experience.

Todd: It was super cool, and I hope he remembers it when I get a phone call at some point where he’ll be saying, “Dad. I just ate a two-day old piece of pizza… I’m starving. Can I borrow a hundred bucks?” I know those phone calls are coming, because I made them myself!

Any final thoughts on RAQ and the upcoming shows?

Todd: We’re primed up for this. We’ve been really excited about this run, and we’re excited about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff we have in the works for 2018. So come check it out!

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