By Erin Christie
Boston’s Raavi & the Houseplants have been tearing up the local scene for quite a while now, churning out a handful of infectious, angst-ridden, and effortlessly groove-inducing singles, time and time again. Currently, the band — composed of members Raavi Sita (lyrics/guitar), Josef Kiefer (guitar), James Duncan (bass), Madden Klass (drums), and Justin Termotto (guitar/ engineering and production) — are anticipating the release yet another of those singles, a new one called “Major Tool,” which is set to drop on February 14th (with an accompanying music video!).
As we wait for the arrival of that Valentine’s Day treat, we had a short chat with Raavi Sita over email about the track and what 2021 might hold for the Houseplants. You can read their responses below.
For anyone who has yet to know you guys, what would you want them to know? Which songs, would you recommend them to listen to first, to get a taste of what you guys are all about?
We are an Indie rock band from Boston, MA. Though we’d use the term “indie” lightly, we pull influences from many different genres such as math rock, bossa nova, and DIY. It’s interesting because when I asked my band which songs they thought would best represent our sound, everyone gave different answers, which is exactly what I think makes our band work; the fact we all have diverse opinions and musical influences. Personally, I’d pick “Shoulder,” “Run Through,” and “Sticky.”
How would you describe “Major Tool” and its general ethos, content-wise and sonically?
“Major Tool” definitely signals a tonal shift for the band, both sound-wise and thematically. This was the first song we wrote after recording our debut album, Don’t Hit Me Up. I separated myself from the lyrics to speak more about a general feeling I’ve experienced many times, rather than one particular story. It’s about getting to a point in a relationship, romantic or otherwise, in which you have to start having uncomfortable conversations. I think there is a threshold most relationships have that separates casual, from closeness.
So much of our first record surrounded the theme of attempting to understand (and subsequently misunderstanding) others’ emotions, because of a lack of communication from both ends. The record was honest, but immature. I wrote all of those songs as a teenager after all. I wanted to write about making the transition to having a deeper more meaningful relationship with another person. Major Tool is about making the choice to be vulnerable with the person you care about, even when it scares you. I think people in my generation are so avoidant of confrontation they forget that we actually need to have confrontations in order to understand the people we love.
Has anything been inspiring you guys lately? Or has your own lives been a large point of inspiration regarding your writing as of late?
Yeah, so we’ve been making themed playlists a band pretty consistently for the past few months. They’re all up on our Spotify in case you have any interest in seeing what we’re listening to. It’s been a fun way to keep in touch and discover new tunes.
This is a bit of a bleak answer but quarantine is anything but inspiring as a songwriter. I personally gain inspiration from live shows. Literally nothing makes me wanna write more than going to a really good house show and seeing four bands doing what I’m doing, only better. So, we have definitely been writing at a slower pace. That said, I am very excited about the EP we have in the works.
In a similar vein, the band compiled a playlist of inspirations and current hits, along with their own words as to what influenced their additions, to go along with this piece. Listen along below.
James says, "The one thing all my tracks have in common is that the first time I heard each was while I was outside freezing my ass off at the bus stop."
Picks: Passenger Side, Two Reverse, We Were Born the Mutants Again With Leafling
Similarly, Raavi was freezing at 6AM discovering some of her picks - a recent fav being La Torre.
Picks: La Torre, Obamraham Lincoln, Danger Baby
Justin says that his picks have mix references.
Picks: Bookoo Bread Co, Hegemony, Goat Head
Madden's were recent airport bops and, as they said, "The Alexander F tune I rediscovered today and remembered it's the best song ever."
Picks: Always Forever, Swimmers, Yuce Dag Basinda
Josef's Picks: The Divine Chord, Road of the Lonely Ones, Her Revolution
On another note, do you have any idea what is in store for you guys this year, especially with the EP considered? Do you have any goals, personally, and with the band in mind?
We are super excited to have some cool live sessions coming up, so definitely keep an eye out for those. Like I mentioned before, we are writing an EP. A few months back we got an Airbnb and wrote/recorded a ton of tunes. We have another trip planned for March which we are stoked about. We all live in different states/countries + with quarantine, we just don’t get to hang out the way we used to, and that’s a bummer because my bandmates really are some of my best friends in the world. We all test in, so we get to hang out for real which just feels like such a privilege during the pandemic. A few of us are also gonna be moving in together in the fall which means we are gonna have a lot of time for writing and arranging.
Another thing I’ve been really loving doing this past year is thrifting shirts for us to print merch on. Not only are the clothes we sell more sustainable and one of a kind, but they’re often much better quality than the bulk tee brands most bands print their merch on. If you or anyone wants to check them out, everything we have is on our Bandcamp.
Finally, if anything, what are you looking forward to hopefully leaving behind this year?
Remote recording. Fuck that shit.
Stay tuned for the release of “Major Tool” next month (and stick around for a livestream the band will be participating in on the 9th, as well). For more from Raavi & the Houseplants, the band recently uploaded a live session of their track, "Just to Live," which was recorded when they were in Germantown this past Fall. You can check that out below.
Additionally, make sure to keep up with Raavi & the Houseplants via their socials, linked below!