Wes Miles, vocalist for indie six-piece Ra Ra Riot, likes Anton Chekhov, James Joyce and Prince.
Ra Ra Riot will perform with headliners Death Cab for Cutie on Wednesday, April 8 at DAR Constitution Hall, supporting their album, “The Rhumb Line,” which references lyrics written by the band’s late drummer, John Pike, who is thought to have drowned in Buzzards Bay in Fairhaven, Mass., following a show in Providence, R.I., in June 2007.
You just got back from [Austin-based music festival] South by Southwest. Do you have any worthwhile stories to share about the experience?
Yeah, this year was a particularly fun year because we had a lot of friends there and we only played like three shows. Last year we played six shows or something and the year before we played a lot, so it was nice to just be there hanging out as opposed to scrambling, so it was a lot of fun.
Did you get out to see any artists that you’re a fan of?
Yeah, I saw Dirty Projectors and I saw Princeton, which was really good.
What does the title of [recently released album] “The Rhumb Line” reference?
The title comes from a lyric in “St. Peter’s Day Festival,” which is a song that John Pike wrote. In the song it’s referenced as a bar in Gloucester that John had gone to during the St. Peter’s Day festival. When we were trying to find a title for the album, we were thinking about lyrics of John’s being particularly significant to us and meaningful so we wanted to have one of his lyrics as the title of the album.
Do any of the songs on the album deal specifically with his death? Are any of the songs on the album written by him?
He’s credited for writing about half the album. A lot of the songs that reference death were actually written with him or, you know, by him. There’s a lot of death imagery in the lyrics but not a lot of that is me referencing his death. It’s really kind of something he and I talked about when we wrote those lyrics together.
You’re a relatively young band – you’ve been around since 2006. Are there any challenges in this? Are you innocent to certain things? Are certain things still new for you?
We’re a young band . Certain things about the business are always kind of shocking, like the way that it works. A lot of times it turns out to be, you know how the old saying goes, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ That can be overwhelming sometimes.
Ra Ra Riot is touring with Death Cab for Cutie. Are you fans? Do you consider yourself artistically similar to the band?
I don’t know if we’ve ever been compared to them, but I certainly have respect for them. I never got into them. I wasn’t very familiar with them. I think most of the other people in my band were fans at some point along their long career.
Who are your influences – musicians, artists, authors?
This is always changing and I can speak for myself but obviously it’s a big band, we all come from different places . For me, I’m obviously a big Kate Bush fan. I’ve been getting into a lot of Prince lately . When we were writing lyrics for the first album John [Pike] and I kind of got into Melville as an author . James Joyce was kind of an influence on some of the lyrics too.
What was the last book you read?
Over the winter I read a lot of Anton Chekhov short stories. That was a really, really exciting author to get into, because he was kind of familiar for some reason. He kind of reminds me of James Joyce – the kind of everyday life being portrayed as very, you know, “Odyssey”-esque . I’m a huge Chekhov fan now.
Do you have any plans after the tour?
There is going to be an album that’s coming out with me and the keyboard player from Vampire Weekend over the summertime. The band is called Discovery . It’s pretty different from both of our bands . We say it’s like crunk and bass but [.laughs] I have no idea.
Ra Ra Riot will perform with headliners Death Cab for Cutie on Wednesday, April 8 at 7 p.m., at DAR Constitution Hall. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.