Seeking To Climb To The Top ... Again

With the addition of a new guitarist and bassist, Ra is prepared to re-ignite label interest and hopefully sign on with a major. According to lead singer Sahaj Ticotin, the new members add more presence vocally to their live show by being able to handle background vocals.

"I'm in the process of re-vamping the live show," said Ticotin. "There are a lot of songs on the record that are big harmony songs. Basically, I'm trying to find ways to make those harmonies happen." Ticotin feels the addition of Ben Carrol, who relocated from Boston, Massachusetts to join Ra on guitar and Sean Carolan, from Ridgewood, on bass, will meet his goal. Said Ticotin, "The main addition is the fact that they can sing".

Ticotin describes some of his newer material as funkier and having more bounce than in the past, though no less intense. "It's a little more funky," he said. "They're very melody-based. There not as riff-based as the other stuff." He also explained that the band is experimenting more with drum loops and sequences.

According to Ticotin, the band is focused on getting up to speed and tight. He added that the addition of Carrol makes subtle changes to the songs easier because of the sensitivity with which he plays. The band plans on getting out live, playing the NEMO show in Boston and showcasing in Manhattan. They plan to do some Jersey shows as soon as their schedule settles down.

The band hopes for a bright future, as they've drawn a strong following of industry contacts and hope to generate additional buzz soon. Their early success came when their single, "Crazy Little Voices", made it to Edel America Records' Head of A & R, John McNally. McNally, who was producing the soundtrack to "The Rage: Carrie 2", helped United Artists/MGM decide to add it as the end-title song for the movie and the soundtrack's single. The song eventually received steady radio play and became the most requested song in many regional radio markets, including Phoenix, Arizona's KDKB rock station.

Edel America Records agreed to fund their record, but eventually ran out of money. Ra was able to get out of that contract with no strings attached, and is now searching for a new label. "We're trying just to focus on new music," said Ticotin. "Keeping things heavy and very melodic."

Ra combines pleasant melodies with styles including hard rock, metal, blues, Arabian music and whatever else spins on their compact disc players. Their songs are well-crafted, but unpredictable, being melodic at one point and merciless the next with a heavy, thin-toned guitar riff. Ticotin's vocals are sleek, wide-ranged and emotional.

Ticotin is the band's primary songwriter, creating ninety-five percent of the tracks. Songwriting is spontaneous at times, more worked out at others. "There are songs that write themselves and there are songs that are lab experiments," he said. He sometimes finds himself saving a melody by singing it into his cell phone during the course of the day. Other times, he can spend hours trying to piece things together consciously. Whatever methods he uses, his songs always seem to have the melodic, as well as harmonic, appeal of someone who puts great effort into his creative process.

Ra's songs are fresh and catchy. Ticotin's lyrics, clear and concise, speak right to the listener. He used to work at the Shakespeare Theatre, where he fell in love with the legendary playwright's work. He said he loves the beauty of Shakespeare's words and how they flow together and tries to keep this in mind while undertaking his own writing. "I try to make sure that there are elements that are reasonably accessible, but also ones that have a rich depthless to them," he said. Ticotin preaches balance to his listener. He said he likes using dark words and phrases, but ones that don't sound evil. Conversely, he expresses a belief that not overwhelming yourself with positive emotions can be positive in itself.

Ticotin's influences come from both the harder and softer groups within the rock spectrum; Metallica, U2, even the Police. "The colors that they came up with in their music, those are colors that speak to me directly," he said of Sting's band. His most recent listening habits have included Korn and Tool. "I've really enjoyed those type of bands," he said. "They mix their ability to play their instruments with the ability to stay modern, fresh and heavy." Guitar-wise, he says his closest comparison would be Metallica's James Hetfield.

Ra has already scaled the music industry ladder. The test now is in returning to the top rung. Their music stands out and has grabbed the attention of many in the industry. Hopefully, their buzz will re-ignite and stay charged.

[ Web site: www.raband.net ]

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.