Ra burst onto the metal scene in 2002 with the release of their debut album From One. For a decade, they toured relentlessly while releasing four studio albums.
Now, after reuniting for a surprise live show and a subsequent livestreaming event earlier this year, the original lineup returns with a new album and tour that brings them back to Fort Wayne on Aug. 21.
The reunification of the band after a self-imposed seven-year hiatus is owed, in part, to drummer and YouTube sensation Meytal Cohen, who enlisted Ra front man Sahaj Ticotin to help her with her second solo album back in 2017. Ticotin had written and produced Cohen’s debut album, but this time she wanted him to sing on the recordings as well.
“It was something I hadn’t planned on doing at all,” Ticotin told Whatzup in an interview, “but she talked me into it.”
After he finished that album and played a few shows with Cohen, Ticotin got the itch to do another record with Ra.
“With all of the producing and writing I do, I had to make sure I had the time and the brain power to make it happen. But once I started writing, I got really excited and it became a thing,” he said.
“I reached out to the rest of the band — not sure whether or not they would be available or even willing, but everybody was super into it and excited.”
The resulting album, Intercorrupted, is a reflection of the band’s legacy and has been embraced by fans and critics alike.
Let’s Hear It for Ra
As a producer and writer for others, Ticotin says he has been able to evolve technically with sound design, editing, mixing, and just about anything else that goes into making an album, which he incorporated into the making of Intercorrupted.
“When I listen to the album, of course there are things that could be better, but I’m so satisfied with the end result,” he said. “From a creative standpoint, there are just so many things you don’t think are going to happen when you disappear for seven years. I think some of the older records suffered from a lack of uniformity, but this record is very consistent. Everything feels and sounds like the same album even though the songs are fairly eclectic.”
Ticotin also said another fear was that, given the range of bands he has worked with, he didn’t know if the album would sound like a true Ra album in the end. But his fear were without warrant.
“The second Skoota (Warner) played drums on it, and Ben (Carroll) added his guitar parts on it, and PJ (Farley) played bass, as soon as everybody who was original in the band was back on the recordings, all of a sudden there we were,” Ticotin said. “It was the band again.”
Living in the Fort
Ticotin is now a permanent Fort Wayne resident. While Ra aren’t a local band in the traditional sense, having originally formed in Los Angeles, they still consider the Aug. 21 show a “hometown show.”
Ticotin met his wife at Piere’s in 2005, they got married, and they recently bought a house in the Summit City where he installed a world-class recording studio.
Although he never envisioned living in the Midwest, it’s possible that it could have simply been his destiny.
“I always called this the ‘Fort Wayne vortex,’” Ticotin said. “No matter what would happen, even going back to From One, we would book a show at Piere’s and invariably either have a day off before the show or a day off after the show and spend it in Fort Wayne.
“I just got very comfortable with it. So when I met my wife there and ended up moving there, it didn’t feel weird or anything — considering that I grew up in New York City and lived in L.A. for ten years. To be as comfortable as I am living in The Fort is pretty remarkable.”
Living in the Midwest may have some advantages over living on either coast, Ticotin pointed out. Anyone that wants to work with him won’t have to travel all the way across the country to get to him. If a band is from Charlotte, for example, a trip to the Midwest is easier than flying to L.A. to see him. Ticotin said that people haven’t been discouraged to visit him in a smaller city.
“In fact, in a weird way, it’s actually a better location,” he said. “Basically, if you want to work with me, you’re going to go to where I’m at. That’s sort of the lay of the land with any producer. The barriers of where you make your record are less strict than they used to be.”
No Longer Shoestring
Ticotin said when Ra finally hits the stage at Piere’s, the biggest difference will be that they no longer are touring on a shoestring budget.
“We’re all in different situations now — different positions financially and business wise — so the goal this time is to make a show that actually feels high-end and fancy,” Ticotin said. “We want a show that people come to and feel immersed in, an experience that is authentic to the music. We’re definitely going to make it look and feel classy and artful and have some real production involved.”
Reddstar, a rap/rock band that Ticotin produced, and Awake at Last, who are signed to the same management company as Ra will be the supporting acts for the show. Praise The Fallen will be the openers.
South Bend’s Praise the Fallen are beginning to make a name for themselves regionally. The band was formed over a decade ago when frontman Jammie Bostel met former Lillian Axe guitarist, Jon Ster, at an open jam in Mishawaka.
After Ster died unexpectedly in 2015, Bostel was asked to put together a version of the band for Ster’s memorial service. That band decided to continue on in Ster’s honor.
They have since released three albums and an EP.
“I just kept the thing going after we played the memorial,” Bostel said in an interview with Whatzup. “All I had to do was find members that wanted to do what I wanted to do, and it took a while, but I’ve got a great band now.”
No stranger to Northeast Indiana, Praise the Fallen have opened for Sponge at The Rockstar Lounge, John 5 at The Eclectic Room, Puddle of Mudd at The Rusty Spur, and as part of a bill at Rock On The River. They’ve also branched out to play venues in Chicago, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
“There’s no sense just staying in South Bend,” Bostel said. “It’s pretty dominated by cover bands, and there’s only a couple of places that allow original music. And we only want to play original music.”
Bostel is grateful he and his band are able to continue creating and performing music together after a brush with death last year. He contracted COVID-19 in October and was hospitalized for 22 days.
“I almost died,” he said.
Music was his therapy.
He was on oxygen for three months while in recovery, but just two weeks after leaving the hospital, the music pulled him into his home studio to revisit a song that he felt compelled to complete.
“I had a track in here that I needed to finish,” he told television station WNDU, who did a three-part story on him. “I’m like, I’m going to see if I can do this. I’m very, very blessed and lucky to be here.”
The band’s music is often likened to Foo Fighters, Shinedown, Three Days Grace, and Fuel. Their passion and penchant for writing songs with a hook is undeniable, while their live shows rival those from some of the biggest bands of the genre.
With plans to record new material in September, the future looks bright for Praise the Fallen.
“We’re energetic and focused, and there’s a good vibe going around about us,” Bostel said. “People are starting to talk. We’re making our mark, and rock n’ roll is definitely not dead when it comes to PTF.”