Roz Raskin returned to scene of the crime last weekend, all smiles on Empire Street prior to the Rice Cakes' outdoor set at Foo Fest. One week prior, her Martin acoustic guitar was snatched from her car while she was judging a spoken word poetry slam inside AS220.
HOPEFUL Foster, Razkin, and Belisle.
"Yo, it's pretty fucked up, man, I couldn't believe it," she said before quickly shaking it off with a grin and shrug. "Hey, whoever took it, I hope they're at least playing the shit out of it, ya know?"
Raskin is one of the most affable and upbeat artists I have encountered on the local circuit, and her genuine love for the Rhody music community shines through each and every time we cross paths or meet up for a margarita (or three). Talk turns to the big Monster Man EP release and video premiere next weekend at Firehouse 13. Raskin and her mates, Casey Belisle and Justin Foster, sought financial help via the Kickstarter fund-raising site.
"We were shocked and truly moved by the amount of backing we received," she told me. "Our initial goal was $800, but we made that in the first day, so we increased the goal to $2000 and eventually hit that too, from people all over.
"It was so rad to see how far our music has spread."
The video for new single "Magma," shot a few brutally muggy weekends back (Raskin: "Shout out to Nice Slice and Ground Round for sponsoring the shoot!"), includes a bunch of friends and family being chased by an enormous monster (operated by Foster and Belisle, with guidance from friend and Disney puppeteer Brett Sylvia) — "a sort of symbolic representation of the lyrical content of the song," according to Raskin.
"The Monster Man album concept surrounds an idea of the downfall of humanity, with a glimmer of hope as well," she said. "I think the energy is consistent throughout, with sort of an immense sorrow.
"Yet there is still a sense of humor about it, and a positive outlook on what the future could bring," Raskin continued. "A song like 'Gore' is blatantly pessimistic, while 'Magma' is sort of ironic in the way the music feels positive yet the lyrics are quite dark and disturbing."
Monster Man follows last year's Feel Like Human EP, both recorded in a Central Falls studio that Justin Foster and friends built from scratch, though Raskin is no stranger to the DIY route, having cut her first record when she was 17 with help from close pal Ben Knox-Miller of the Low Anthem. The trio also decided to play musical chairs this time around, with drummer Belisle sliding over to bass and keys, while Foster jumped behind the kit. The multi-talented Raskin helms the keyboard and glockenspiel, along with some bass and guitar duties.
"It keeps things interesting and challenging for us," said Roz, who was particularly pumped about incorporating three-part harmonies on the new record, as well as having Belisle provide some lyrics for the first time. The sound remains totally unique, from the stirring, ice cold effect of "Gore" to the jazzy 90-second jam "Hate," while "Everyone" and "With a Monster Man" are two of the best yet from the Rice Cakes collective.