The Rah’s are a full of energy, raw and rebellious five piece indie-rock band from a small town in Scotland. The band consists of Jack McLeod (lead singer and guitar), Jordan McIntyre (lead guitar and vocals), Andrew McLeod (bass guitar),Neale Gray, (drums) and from January 2016, Chris Karpacz ( keys, percussion, guitar and vocals).
The band initially started at school; having grown up together from nursery school onwards and practicing their craft as a pub covers band, they got together in 2011 to form the Rah’s.
Despite a couple of early EPs they recognise they have only really come of age in the past year with the release of their last two singles. ‘Sweet Talker’ an explosive blast of raucous indie rock with a catchy hook, started to open doors for them and their latest recording, ‘The Time is Now’ described by lead singer Jack as a ‘face melter of a song’, firmly placed them on the radar as band to look out for.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the band ahead of their gig at the Jacaranda a few days ago and chatted to them (amid much laughing and messing about) around the table of their tiny dark dressing room in the murky depths of the cellar about their past, their current tour, their latest single and random words to describe each other.
For people who might not be familiar with your work tell us who you are and what kind of music you make.
“Who wants to do it then? Shall we line up? Right, we are the Rah’s, a 5 piece band from a wee coastal town in Scotland called Prestonpans. We play rock music, I guess you could describe it as indie rock but yeah that’s about it really”
I read that you all grew up together, going to the same nursery, infant, primary and high schools. How have you managed to get along together all that time?
“Well there was a few fights, a couple of scraps here and there, but to be fair we get along pretty well. We’ve been together for 8 years now, starting as a cover band and as the Rah’s for the last 6 years. I think it’s because we are all so laid back, if someone slags someone we don’t take it personally, we just see it as a bit of banter and get on with it and that’s it..”
Whose idea was it to form a band?
“I think it was just a gathering together because one of us could play guitar and one wanted to play the drums and we wanted to play like Hendrix. There was an original member called Jason who played guitar. His dad was in a cover band and he used to get gigs for the group and it started off as kind of family oriented I guess but then we broke away from that to form the band that’s sitting here in front of you.”
Which bands would you say influenced you all growing up and which bands do you like to listen to right now?
“Oh a lot of different genres. Growing up it was Arctic monkeys, White Lies, Kasabian, the Chili Peppers and more recently Tame Impala and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Pete Doherty made me want to pick up a guitar. I went to a gig looked at Pete and just said I want to do that.” “Recently, who knows, the Vryll Society, I like them”
You’ve gigged all over the place and supported high profile bands like the Fratellis. Which band was the most fun to support and have you any interesting tour stories you can share with us?
“Aye there is a funny story we were gigging in London and I got drunk and got the munchies and so I got one of those hire bikes and rode down the side of the Thames to McDonalds but while I was in there someone took the bike and was away with it for 16 hours and I got charged £280”
“and there’s one time, it wasn’t on tour, but your man there ate a slug and turned green and had to go home”
You have been cited as saying that although you’ve been together as a band since 2011, you’ve only recently ‘come of age’ and have actually ditched a lot of your earlier stuff. What’s brought about this change?
It’s maturity really. Working with James Darkins who produced the track ‘The Time is Now‘, he was amazing, he’s also worked with Rihanna and he made us want to ditch everything we had done before 2014 and start again
Is it true that Jack wanted to do the spoken word bit at the intro to the single in an American accent but James Darkins wouldn’t have it, he said ‘it’s Braveheart or nothing’?
Yes well I wanted to do it like Morgan Freeman because it’s like an American motivational speech and that’s what I wanted but he just said why would you want to do that when you’re from Scotland. We went out to King Tuts that night had a couple of pints and I was trying to convince him to let me do it in an American accent but he just said “No you’re not, its Braveheart or nothing” Anyway it was worth trusting him, it works, in my eyes it works anyway.
The single was originally on your now deleted 2013 EP ‘Living the Dream’, why did you delete it and what made you want to bring ‘the Time is Now’ back to life again?
Oh dig deep there, I don’t know what to say to that, I don’t know really…now I think about it, it was rubbish, the way we play now is totally different. We needed to make it rockier, punchier and the original recording was really badly recorded which made us hate the song but we knew there was something there so we were like, we need to revive this song and we kranked it up a gear and made it better.
Who writes the songs, is it a collaborative affair?
Musically it’s a total mix, the way it works we are just practicing and make tunes from the jam. We pretty much make it up as we go along. You put a riff on the table and then begin to write lyrics when we have a structure
How has the tour been going so far? Do you enjoy playing intimate venues or is your eye on playing to bigger audiences in future?
It depends how big
Bigger than this?
Aye well our living room would be bigger than this (referring to the tiny cave like dressing room)
With bigger venues they make you play better, you can get a better sound and more energy but I’m quite into intimate gigs I love connecting with the audience but on the other hand I’m not going to reject a gig with U2 at Wembley stadium.
Is there anywhere you haven’t played yet but would really like to?
Abroad, Benicassim? Or Nos Alive in Portugal, or even bigger, something like Coachella, I would love to play there. Just would love to take it overseas, we’ve done Ireland which is technically over the sea but yeah Europe or America and Canada.
What’s your proudest achievement to date?
Facebook live was a big one . We played ‘The Time is Now’ live at Facebook headquarters in London that was pretty good. And just working with the people we have now, recording the track.
One last question, if you had to describe each member of the band in one word what would it be?
(the band got really excited by this question and said they were hoping for it but then all spoke at once and I’ve just got a random list of words so I will leave it to you to try and work out which member of the band is which)
Deep-toker or deep-talker (Scottish accent makes it difficult to know which)
And several indecipherable words
Thank you so much for talking to me, good luck with the gig tonight!
Their latest single ‘The Time Is Now’ is available to listen on Spotify and you can check out the full interview here.