There are bands that touch my heart and there are bands that blow my hair back, RAQ blows my hair back while their personalities touch my heart. It’s always great to see a project that erupts with talent and even better when they are playing so close to home, and paying tribute to some great bands from that area.

Playing Tuesday, Halloween night at Gypsy Sally’s, RAQ is unveiling a Foo-Q-azi set, an homage to Dave Grohl and the foo fighters as well as another hometown hero, Ian Mackaye and his band Fugazi. Even better than both is the pronounced twist that RAQ will surely put on both of these bands.
I was fortunate to get some time with both Chris Michetti and Jay Burwick of RAQ. I’d have loved some time with Todd Stoops, but I get plenty of love from “my guy” in his off time. That said, it was an honor and a privilege to get time with two of the most talented players I know.

Hey guys!

Chris – Hey, Taco thanks for talking with us, I know we’re not Stoops. You get the B team today.  The Junior Varsity (laughter).

I love Stoops, he’s a good friend of ours. It’s great, too, that I have another Vermonter with me here today, because I was born in Rutland, VT and raised there from the age of 5-16.

Jay – Rutvegas! My guy, oh man.

Anyway, let’s talk about RAQ.  You guys are doing a week run here soon.

Jay – We like to call it a “strong” run instead of a week run.

I might title this article “the strong run week one” (laughter). You guys are actually going to be in my backyard, you’re coming to Gypsy Sally’s.  I’m personally really excited, I’ve been a big fan of you guys, since I guess one of the first times we saw you at Barefoot way back when. There’s been a lot of changes since then. What’s gone on since RAQ last did a tour? When was the last time?

Chris – We did two shows a month ago or maybe a couple months ago in New York City. We’ve been doing three nighters, and we’d like to do them more often to be honest with you.

I think everyone would like to see you do that more often.

Chris – I know, I know, and it’s…well I don’t know, honestly (laughter) that people want to see us more often. But think so, I’m hoping so!  Yeah, the last show we played was in August.

I just know there’s so many people in my group of friends where it comes up, “I wish RAQ would do more shows.”

Chris – Honestly, Taco, what’s going on, is, it’s hard to do it these days. The struggle is real.  We were just saying, though, how much we fun we have these days playing, it’s ridiculous.  It’s almost too much fun. We want to do it more often because it’s incredible and the music benefits from all the fun we’re having. A few months beck we asked ourselves, how do we play more shows and really try to make it work? I think it was Stoops who had the idea of releasing something. We did actually record something at Brooklyn Bowl a couple years ago when we had a different drummer with us. It was great, but unfortunately that drummer had to go play with a different band, probably one that was playing more than RAQ.  So…we didn’t necessarily want to use that project. Instead we said “Why don’t we just make an album?” and that’s what we’re doing right now.  It’s awesome, I’m not even kidding. If I was Stoops I’d say “Are you fucking kidding me, you kidding me right now, bro?” (laughter)

The good news with that is, I actually interviewed Scotty Zwang a couple of days ago…

Chris- He better not have been talking shit (jokingly).

No, he was talking about how awesome your new album is.

Jay – Oh yeah, love that guy, Scotty.

It’s really funny how this whole thing shook out because I was talking to Scotty about doing the interview and we finally got to do that, and then like an hour later Matt Kolinski gives me a call and asks, “Do you want to do some press on RAQ?”  And I said I would love to!

Chris – Scotty’s the best, he’s great. He’s actually going to go record the drums tomorrow.

Oh! So I should call him incessantly tomorrow.

Chris – No, no , no.  He needs to be in his happy place.  We did the guitar tracks, Stoops did most of the keyboards, and I’m about to fly out and meet Jay and Todd and we’ll do some vocals. There’s a few instrumental tracks so I guess not too many vocals…well, yeah, there’s a lot of vocals.  So once Scotty gets on there it’s going to be great. We’re going for a more polished sound. One time I asked one of my producers, “Can you make us sound like Hollywood?” and I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but we never got what we wanted, which is that really polished sound.

Jay – I was just recording a track with a different band who was fighting with the engineer to keep it rough sounding…and I’m like, my live stuff is rough…I’m spending money right now let’s make it good.

Chris- Taco, last time we were in the studio, God bless the guys who helped us with that, it was actually Jared and Pete Carini and we were in the barn, it was a surreal experience, it was over the top amazing I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it did make me go, as a guitar player, “I want to learn how to use this program” because it seems like, first of all, they’re just hitting space bar over and over again, and telling me to re-do things, which is like “I could do that.” (laughter) But to have control over your own vision being fleshed out would be cool, because sometimes I would do a guitar solo and when I come back they say “Here’s your solo,” and I say, “What the hell was that?”  It’s interesting…not that it was bad, it was great, but you have no control.  I could tell right away this was going to be a super polished album.  There’s going to be guitars everywhere, the vocals are going to have reverb, and it’s going to be awesome.

Right on. Well on this strong run week one, your support squad is going to be Goose. We’re huge fans of them and we brought them out to our own small festival last year, plus Aaron was one of our stage managers which was even more fantastic.  It’s really getting a double dose of goodness and pleasure out of the strong run.

Jay – I checked out Goose on the internet actually, and their guitar player is really good, as is everyone else.  I mean not that anyone cares…as long as their guitar player’s good (laughter).  I’m just kidding.

With you, Chris, you’re still doing stuff with Conspirator, correct?

Chris – Yeah we actually played about a month ago, we played at Gypsy Sally’s then, too. It’s been, honestly…Conspirator has been slowing down a little bit, though we did have Scotty play a couple shows with us recently.  I’m double dipping with Scotty.

It seems like Scotty has been doing a lot of double dipping.

Chris – He is a double dipper. He’s been all around town (laughter).  You know what it is, I gotta tell you, Conspirator is a different beast, it’s a lot of fun and it’s a different kind of music, but I’m super excited to play with RAQ and open it up and play rock ‘n’ roll guitar.

Yes, I love your rock ‘n’ roll riffs, they are so much fun for me.

Chris- Well, thank you.  You know if you do the rock n roll riffs in Conspirator you get a look or two.

One of the questions I’m wondering is, this being a Halloween show, are we going to see costumes?

Chris – I better see some costumes, I’m hoping that Jay will put on that naughty schoolgirl outfit that I’ve been wanting him to put on for years.  But we’ve been focusing more on the songs.

Jay – You never know what can happen, we never really plan out costumes, but spontaneous costumes certainly do appear.  We really  hope the crowd gets really heavily costumed up.  We provide the entertainment and they entertain us with their costumes. We do have a musical costume, the Foo – Q – azi, because it’s kind of Foo Fighters, kind of Fugazi.

Chris – In honor of Washington DC, represent!

That is amazing for me.  Foo Fighters I didn’t realize how much of a fan I was of theirs until I saw them live. And then Fugazi, Minor Threat, the whole Ian MacKaye DC hardcore punk thing, that was definitely where I was at when I moved to the Baltimore dc area as a teen. Those were very defining years in my life. Like I said, I’m pretty much getting everything I could want out of life in one show.

Chris – We’re giving away a new car! (jokingly)

It’s better than a new car! Because I don’t have to pay insurance on it, and it doesn’t depreciate in value.  Actually, the older I get, the more this show is probably going to mean to me, as I reach my twilight years and think, “What were the great moments that made it worth it all?” RAQ in DC Halloween 2017!

Chris – Oh my god, well we hope it’s a great success!

Jay – It will be no matter what.

It’s going to be great, thanks so much and see you then!