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A Friendly Race



    On Sunday, my blog, Friends With Both Arms, will be presenting a show at Soda Bar featuring the L.A. indie band Races, along with Chains of Love, the New Assembly and Foreign Film.>

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    Races, which recently signed to Frenchkiss Records, have been gaining quite a bit of hype lately for their vibrant indie-pop ballads that play out more like youthful anthems, with songs like "All for You" and just enough smokey vocals making it all the more dramatic. In anticipation for the show, I caught up with the band's Wade Ryff to talk about what it means to “make it.”

    Be sure to RSVP for the show on Facebook and get on the $5 list at the door.

    Nada Alic: I believe we once met at a burrito place after a Shivers house show in San Diego. Whats your connection to the Shivers?
    Wade Ryff: Ah, yes, I do remember that! Keith and Jo of the Shivers are dear friends of mine. Both of them have been such an inspiration to me. I played bass for them when they are here on the West Coast. Actually, Lukas and Garth and I are usually their backing band when they're touring out this way. Jo also plays in Races when she can. Keith is one of my all-time favorite songwriters and performers. Some of the most memorable experiences I have ever had onstage have been with the Shivers.

    NA: Why did you change your name from Black Jesus to Races? Who thought of Black Jesus in the first place?
    WR: For the first few months, the band didn’t really have a name. It was just my name, which I never liked. We picked Black Jesus mostly because we wanted a name that people wouldn’t forget. Barrie, one of the girls that used to be in the band, had this book of beat poetry. I think Black Jesus was from a line in the book. But I never really liked Black Jesus, and it never really fit the sound of the band .

    NA: Having been formed originally for just a one-off gig and then eventually becoming a band, did getting signed by Frenchkiss take you to another level of commitment to the band?
    WR: I think that’s true for other members of the band, although not for myself. I knew after our first show that this was what I wanted to focus on.

    NA: You set up a Kickstarter for your debut album. Can you talk about that experience?
    Well, at the time we had no way to release our record, so we started a Kickstarter to raise money just for the printing up of the record. At that point, we were gonna release the record on our manager's label, Jax Art Records. Toward the end of the Kickstarter campaign, we got a call from French Kiss, which was the most amazing news, but it changed things up a bit for the Kickstarter campaign. Since then, the release of the record has been pushed back a bit. Unfortunately, those who contributed will have waited a year to get the packages they paid for. I feel terrible, but I think they understand. We are so grateful to the people who helped support us.

    NA: What's the touring setup like with six bodies; are you all a cohesive unit or is it just chaos?
    So far its been great.

    NA: The Sun Glitters remix of "Big Brooms" is amazing, definitely more sparse and slowed down. Were you pleased with it?
    WR: I really enjoy it. Its always so exciting and flattering to hear someone else’s interpretation of your song.

    NA: The Thanksgiving mix you recently posted includes one of my favorite songs: "It'll All Work Out," by L.A. artist Blake Mills. Who are some other L.A. peers/artists you admire?
    WR: There are plenty of artists in L.A. I have a lot of respect for. Lately I’ve really been into the new Papa EP [It's Hard to Find a Good Woman] and Chelsea Wolfe.

    NA: You've accomplished quite a bit so far: Signed to a great label, played a number of major music festivals, appeared on countless blogs, finished the album. What would you consider as "making it”? Do you feel like there will come a day when you feel like you've "arrived"?
    WR: "Making it" has two different implications to me. One is financial and one is artistic. The financial side is all external factors, whereas the artistic side is much more internal. Financially speaking, I think making it means living off it. In that sense, we haven’t made it yet. and we’re far from it. Artistically speaking, I think making it means feeling like you're really working to your potential and tapping into your power. We're a young band, and I think we're still figuring things out. I don’t think we’ve fully uncovered our powers yet.

    NA: Your full length Year of the Witch is out March 12. What can we expect?
    WR: I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise.

    Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms.Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.