Although Ra is a new name for most of us, their newfound success didn't come overnight. In fact, after spending five years butting heads with an industry that thrives on conformity Sahaj was about ready to throw in the towel when fate came calling and gave the band their big break. "I knew I was able to connect with people, but I felt we were never given an opportunity," recalls Sahaj of his early struggles with the band. "After working at it for five years, I finally told myself that unless something amazing happened at the NEMO festival in Boston, I was basically quitting. As with the rest of my life, it all came down to the wire. We played that show, and a month later we were receiving major airplay."
Sahaj and his bandmates have now been given that opportunity. Sahaj along with drummer Skoota Warner, guitarist Ben Carroll and drummer Sean Corcoran have produced one of the most exciting new CD's to hit the streets in years. And the momentum has just started picking up steam.
"From One" is not a one trick pony. The first single "Do You Call My Name" is only the icing on the cake as almost every track on the album is a potential hit single. It's conceivable that is the momentum continues and the band catches on in a big way then "From One" could supply upwards of five to seven hit singles. "Rectifier," "Fallen Rock Zone," "One," "Violator," "I Believe," and the beautiful ballads "On My Side" and "Walking & Thinking," all have the makings of monster hits.
That's not to say the other tracks like "Parole," "High Sensitivity," "Skorn," and "Sky" is filler. In fact, "Parole" is a rock solid rocker that sounds like Soundgarden at their best moments. The Middle Eastern music influences in "Skorn" make it a real high point of the album but it just doesn't have the "big choruses" that most of the other songs on this album have that make them so appealing to radio. "Sky," with its slow haunting intro that gives way to a full power rocker was the perfect way to cap off the album.
Armed with a full arsenal of incredible songs, Ra hit the road ready to win over converts. I was fortunate enough to witness this battle plan first hand, not once but twice, when the group stormed through L.A. in January supporting Seether. At both stops, first at the Anaheim House of Blues and then at The Roxy in Hollywood, the band came out strong and just got stronger as their sets progressed.
Sahaj started out the shows by asking the crowd how many people owned the CD. A few hands shot up each night. But you wouldn't know that from watching the crowd's reaction to the band on stage. Especially at the seemingly sold out show at the Roxy where almost everyone in the standing room only crowd seemed mesmerized by Ra's performance. It was a bit unusual to see such a strong fan reaction from an LA crowd because typically LA fans have a lukewarm attitude towards what's happening on stage, even for bands they shelled out major dollars to see headline. It's not unusual to see a line of fans with their arms crossed, watching the show with an attitude that says, "ok prove it!". There was none of that with Ra and if I didn't know better I would have guessed the entire crowd has shown up their to see them not the headliner.
One huge thing in Ra's favor is their ability to almost perfectly reproduce their songs live. Most bands have a hard time capturing the sound of their studio efforts when they hit the stage without the aid of studio effects to help them out. The only other groups I have seen pull this off almost perfectly would have to be Boston and Tool. (Although on some night's Tool seems to go off in other directions, which is always fun to watch). It's an amazing accomplishment when you consider the dynamics of the music and the difficult harmonies. But Ra made it appear effortless and they easily won over the tough LA audiences.
It isn't just LA though, I've recently seen postings on message boards for various unrelated bands where fans talk about happening across a Ra show and being blown away. It doesn't take much exposure to the group to won over; they are the real deal.
Now it is time for this article to come full circle, as it has already gone on twice as long as I originally intended. The Roxy show was the group's last night in LA so Happenin' Harry invited the guys in the band and crew over to the Cat Club after the show for an after-show party.
The Cat Club was a mad house as Gibson guitars was sponsoring a party for the Namm show that was going on that weekend in Anaheim. It seemed like half of LA was packed into the club and the bartender Kenny was practically pulling his hair out trying to keep up with orders. John Corabi(Motley Crue, Brides of Destruction) eventually jumped behind the bar to help him out.
Harry and I had walked over to The Cat Club from the Roxy right after Ra left the stage. We got in the door and worked our way towards the back where C.C. DeVille was holding court. Say what ever you want to about Poison but C.C. is a real character and a blast to hang out with! C.C. entertained us with his banter and time seemed to fly as more and more drinks were ordered. (I was joking that night that C.C. should be given his own talkshow. If you've ever spent even five minutes with the guy you would understand just how much fun that would be.)
Ra and their entourage showed up about an hour later and made into to the back where we were hanging out. Right away Harry introduced them to C.C. who became even more animated that usual. "Ra! You guys are supposed to be the best band in the world! Harry keeps talking about you. Ra this and Ra that! It's great to meet you guys," exclaims C.C. who reaches down into his coat pocket and pulls out a Ra CD, "Hey see how he is," says C.C. as he points to Harry and holds up the CD. "He just slipped this into my pocket!"
It was great to meet the guys in the band and they ended up being really cool and down to earth. I learned afterwards that it's not uncommon for them to hang out with fans in the audience after they perform. Ra is definitely a band that believes in connecting directly with their fans.
We basically hung out at The Cat Club until closing, exchanging stories, laughed at C.C.'s antics and watched as Harry sung their praises to every "rock star" who walked by. After the Cat Club closed we walked down to the Rainbow and hung out there for a bit. Sean and Ra's road manager Jim didn't want to leave because they were having so much fun. They stood there in the parking lot shooting and posing for pictures with various people while someone from the crew would walk over every few minutes telling them that they had to get on the bus and go to the next gig.
Eventually they said their goodbyes, took a couple of last minute photos and boarded their bus to head down the road that hopefully leads to the success they so richly deserve. There wasn't a sunset for them to ride away into but they did ride away on Sunset Blvd which is kind of fitting for a band named after the sun god. Hopefully the fates will smile upon them and their momentum will continue to build, making them the superstars. Ra knows they have what it takes!
(Ok sorry for the Ra/God pun, I couldn't resist. Now that you've sat through my blatherings, check the band out for yourself with the links below)
Copyright 2003 - Iconoclast Entertainment Group