Catching up with the Rice Cakes

Roz, Casey, and Justin continue their epic musical quest
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 8, 2013

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ROLLING WITH IT Foster, Raskin, and Belisle. [Photo by Tim Siekiera]

There's no denying the work ethic of local trio the Rice Cakes, as Roz Raskin, drummer Casey Belisle, and bassist Justin Foster enjoy a breakout stretch while building a fan base via DIY tours from here to Austin. The 2012 WBRU Rock Hunt champs received about 1 trillion spins for the highly addictive "Magma" (with that follow-the-bouncing-ball hook of "Da-da, da-da, da-dum, da-dum . . .") from the 2011 EP Monster Man. The trio return with two new songs on a seven-inch platter, "Floor Boards" b/w "Halloweenie" (on vinyl, disc, or download at thericecakes.bigcartel.com). They have a busy spring and summer lined up (including studio time for a new full-length album); you can catch 'em in action next Saturday (free of charge!) at the Hope Street Spring Block Party.

It's hard not to root for my black-and-blue-haired buddy Raskin and the guys just as much as it is difficult to pin down their sound, which incorporates uber-catchy hooks with extended jams (particularly onstage) constructed around jazzy rhythms and Raskin's stellar vocals; they cite Radiohead (look up their cover of "There There") and the Mars Volta as major influences. The Rice Cakes sound better than ever on "Floor Boards." And while they've been known to play musical chairs onstage, Belisle holds his own while accompanying Raskin on vocals on both of the new tracks. Though the music is often energetic and playful, Raskin's songwriting is laced with darker themes and imagery, dating back to "We Search for Violent Hills," "The Beating," and "Like Ass" from the 2009 full-length debut The Friend Ship (which helped land Best Local Act honors in our 2010 Best Music Poll). Raskin said the band may be working with the Low Anthem's Jeff Prystowsky, Ben Knox-Miller, and the Columbus Recording Company crew later this year (TLA invited them to play the "Newport Homegrown" stage at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival); I can't wait to hear the results.

I caught up with Raskin and Belisle earlier this week via email.

HOW WAS THE ROCK HUNT EXPERIENCE OVERALL? AND DID IT HELP GARNER EXPOSURE OUTSIDE THE REGION AS WELL? CASEY: It definitely helped with exposure in all sorts of places. On a personal note, having a song played for a full year on a station we grew up listening to is still a feeling that's hard to describe. One of my older co-workers who didn't know what band I played in came up to me and sang, "Da dum da da da dum," then said, 'I love that song, have you heard it yet on 'BRU?' and I was like, 'Whaaaaaaat? ' "

THE RICE CAKES DIY TOUR MORE THAN PROBABLY ANY OTHER BAND IN TOWN, THOUGH I IMAGINE IT GETS EASIER WHEN YOU CONTINUALLY DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS IN VARIOUS TOWNS. ROZ: Building relationships in other towns is the only way we have thrived on the road. We have stumbled upon some of the most properly functioning DIY houses that care about touring bands and guarantee a payment so that we can get gas and food for the next day. It's not only DIY spaces but also the promoters in the cities and towns we play in that make a profit happen. We have gone back to places seven or eight times now because people genuinely give a shit about helping us.

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Related: Photos: Newport Folk Festival, part one, Interview: The Low Anthem, Off the Couch: From Shaolin with love, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Roz Raskin, Newport Folk Festival, The Low Anthem,  More more >
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