The band is named after the Egyptian god of the sun but fans of alt-metal group Ra know their heroes as something a little more down to earth; to them they are gods of rock. Ra has been a bit reclusive lately though; it’s been five years since their last album, a situation brought on partially by the departure of drummer Skoota Warner from the band. But all is good in Ra-land now; Warner has rejoined singer Daniel “Sahaj” Ticotin, guitarist Ben Carroll and bass man PJ Farley and the quartet have just released their most powerful album ever, fittingly titled “Critical Mass.” The layoff didn’t dampen fan enthusiasm one iota and if anything it made the Ra faithful even more rabid; when Ticotin announced a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign, fans quickly ponied up big bucks to get Ra in the studio. The project has paid off nicely for all concerned; fans now have new music, new fans are coming on board as the first single from “Critical Mass,” “SuperMegaDubstep,” tears it up at radio, and the band, newly revitalized, is expecting 2014 to be a banner year. In the midst of all the excitement, Ticotin took the time to answer a few of our questions about the making of “Critical Mass” and give some insight as to how he got the nickname Sahaj.
Examiner: How did Skoota’s return to the band come about, and how has having the “classic” Ra line-up in tact invigorated the band?
Sahaj Ticotin: We were tentatively looking for someone to play on the record when literally out of the blue, Skoota called and asked to rejoin. He had been playing a lot and was fairly financially secure and decided that the musical connection we had was something important to him, and he wanted back in. I had worked with him on my solo record so it wasn’t like we'd been apart for years or anything. His presence on the record is monstrous! It immediately had me thinking about parts and beats that I knew he could deliver in his special way. It was a great catalyst to making the record heavier.
E: You financed the making of “Critical Mass” with a Kickstarter campaign and your fans actually came through with twice as much money as you were hoping for. How did having that extra funding help with the sessions?
ST: Kickstarters are definitely a double edged sword. It's absolutely amazing to get the support and passion from the fans but there's a lot of effort and time that goes into one both before and after.The process itself was great fun and reunited us with a lot of our fans who hadn’t heard from us in a while. The extra money was used to get a few fancy pieces of gear and to make an additional acoustic E.P. which is forthcoming.
E: Fans that pre-ordered “Critical Mass” through the “Sun God Rocker” promotion also got a ticket to a future Ra show. Are you going to keep that offer going now that the album has dropped?
ST: I think we will keep it going though we may change it a bit. And it's not just a ticket to a show; it’s a ticket to any show we play in your area forever!
E: Tell me a little bit about your time in India; what prompted you to go, what you learned, how you got your nickname there, and how the experience affects you today.
ST: I went to India in the early '90s. It was to chase a girl I was in love with. It was a tough experience as I'd never been so far away from home and vulnerable but I learned more on that trip about myself than I probably have since. There was something magical every second of everyday there. The name was given to me to acknowledge my rebirth of sorts. I carry the passion and mysticism I experienced there into every session I do in music. I always try to inject just a tiny bit of spiritualism into any song I'm working on.
E: Was the trip to India where you got your first taste of the exotic eastern sounds that often pop up in Ra’s music?
ST: I was blessed to be able to play with a bunch of local and international musicians for the entire three months I was there. It definitely stayed with me when writing and conceiving for Ra.
E: The first single from “Critical Mass,” “SuperMegaDubstep,” is on its way up the charts; curious as to how the song got its name, and do you plan on making a video for the song?
ST: We are looking into a video now. The song was a conscious effort to do something we hadn’t done before and maybe a bit more classic metal with a cool modern bridge. I had named the song that as a working title but after writing the song I thought "You Can’t Go Home" (the song’s chorus) seemed like a crappy butt-rock title so I kept “SuperMegaDubstep.” The "super" is for energy, the "mega" is for Megadeth, that’s what the riff reminded me of, and "dubstep" for the bridge.
E: What are the tour plans to support “Critical Mass”?
ST: We’ll really kickoff our touring officially in 2014. Hopefully we will find some bands to go out with that are awesome.
E: And maybe some awesome places to perform. What’s the most unlikely venue Ra has ever played, and what/where would be your dream venue?
ST: We once played in a corn field at night with no lights, for real! And as a New Yorker, Madison Square Garden will always be a dream!!
Purchase “Critical Mass” at Amazon
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