A rhumb line is a nautical navigation term for a line on the earth’s surface that crosses all meridians at the same angle. Diagrams show it starting at the north pole and gently swirling around the earth’s surface.

When Ra Ra Riot released their debut, The Rhumb Line, ten years ago in 2008, they were navigating their musical identity after the loss of a key member of the band, drummer John Ryan Pike. To Wes Miles, the frontman of the group, The Rhumb Line is “a time capsule of our past selves.” Now, in 2018, they are playing the album in full on a tour that starts in Cambridge at The Sinclair on August 16. Ten years later, it is a way for Ra Ra Riot to “look back and think on who we used to be and who we are now so that we can move forward.”

Ra Ra Riot started in 2006 as a collection of seven students playing house parties at Syracuse University. They had one goal: to make fast and loud music to complement the college party vibe. “We were a party band at the time, so we wanted to get people moving,” Miles said. “We were focused on barreling ahead and making sounds.”

In 2008, they released their debut The Rhumb Line in the wake of tragedy. The previous year, Ra Ra Riot founding member and drummer John Ryan Pike was found dead in the waters of Buzzard’s Bay in Massachusetts. Instead of disbanding, the remaining members finished the album because “stopping wouldn’t have been fair to him and all of the work he put into the album.” Pike had written and cowritten half of the songs on the debut, so the band decided to name the album after a Gloucester bar Pike mentioned in “St. Peter’s Day Festival.” The album became a testament to his life and his contributions to Ra Ra Riot. “We didn’t know it at the time,” Miles said. “Being so young and immature allowed us to move forward.”

This will be the first time the band will play their debut in full and in order. While this anniversary tour is a celebration of beginnings, it inevitably reminds of endings. “There hasn’t been one time I’ve played a song off The Rhumb Line and not thought about [Pike and I] writing songs together,” Miles said.

With only four original members left, the band is still navigating ways to move forward. “There’s enough people and collaborators that the future’s uncertain and exciting in that way,” Miles said. After some time apart—the members lived in California, Washington, Wisconsin, and New York—Ra Ra Riot will be able to collaborate directly without relying on voice memos to communicate with eachother. They look forward to doing more tours because that’s still their “bread and butter.”

They are finishing up a new album to follow their latest, Need Your Light (2016). However, they have no idea what the process will look like. “Every time we put out a record, the industry has changed drastically,” Miles said. “When we put The Rhumb Line out, we were like ‘when’s it going to leak?’ Then it leaked a month in advance, and we were all bummed. Then the second record came out and we were like ‘Oh gee. Should we leak it? Do people still leak their records on purpose?’ I think we leaked it on purpose. It’s crazy. Something different is going to happen every time we put out a record. We just let stuff happen.”

Ra Ra Riot are still navigating their careers after more than ten years. They have left behind the chamber pop sound of The Rhumb Line (2008) to adopt an electro pop sound in Beta Love (2013), then to meet somewhere in the middle for Need Your Light (2016). However, the band is simply grateful for their ability to make music that helps themselves and the world around them, even if only in a small way. “It’s amazing because when we started we had no clue that we would even exist now,” Miles said. “If there were a fifty-fifty bet that we would exist in 10 or 12 years, I don’t think I would have taken it.”

Ra Ra Riot is kicking off their The Rhumb Line tenth anniversary tour at The Sinclair on Thursday, August 16. Tickets. They are also releasing a limited, hand-numbered reissue of the album on vinyl on August 17.

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