An Interview with RAQ Guitarist Chris Michetti

Coming off a huge nationwide February/ March tour, where RAQ saw themselves selling out venues such as Colorado’s Fox Theater and Michigan’s Blind Pig, they returned home to Burlington for an every Wednesday night residency at the legendary Nectars. In-between, they have been playing up and down the coast creating their new blend of a Zappa-mindset-esque-jazz-rock. Most recently, RAQ played at this past Saturday at Springfest and Slade Hall. I sat down with the open-minded, inviting, and talented Michetti on two separate occasions to find out his thoughts on his bands evolution, influences, and Spongebob. VC: In terms of other bands in your general scene of music, who do you think are doing the best and most groundbreaking work? CM: The ones that come to mind are Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. Um, the Biscuits (The Disco Biscuits) are really good, we saw them. Also, Psychedelic Breakfast and Brothers Past. I love those guys. VC: What are your influences? CM: On the guitar? VC: Yup, on the guitar. CM: Ok, well the top three right now would be John Petrucci of Dream Theater, of course. And, um, Frank Zappa. Always Frank Zappa. And, Jimmy Herring. So, basically, I’m into the players right now. The real technical players. Since we’ve talked, I’ve broken out the old Eric Johnson records. I’m in a real technical kind of phase right now. VC: What is your take and feeling on the, at this point in time, undeserved and exaggerated comparison to Phish? CM: My take on it is, you know, you gotta look at that stuff totally positive. And that’s what we do. The Phish crowd in general is really a loyal crowd, and they are definitely into their stuff. And I think, sometime they come and see us, when the feedback is negative, they really haven’t seen us, and just maybe living wrong lives and not experiencing good energy, and therefore being dicks. I feel like if you come see us now, I mean we’ve all listened to Phish, and have somewhat been influenced by them. Not so much recently. But it’s a similar kind of genre of music, its Jamband music. VC: Yeh, I mean no band, even The Disco Biscuits still have a Phish sound from time to time. CM: We know we’ll get that forever and you just have to look at it in a positive way. Deep down, we go out and play every night, and try to sound like ourselves. Whenever anyone compares us to Phish, I look at it in a positive way. VC: I hear just as much of Zappa as I do Trey in your playing. CM: Well, I could probably, if I really went out there consciously thinking, `I’m going to sound like Trey,” I could probably make myself sound like Trey a lot. VC: And on that note, to be able to sound like Trey. Be as fast as he is and hit those notes that just make you cream you pants, is a really hard thing to do. CM: Totally, like I said I haven’t been playing that long. And to get that compliment, is well, he’s a master. Again, it gets kind of tiring sometimes when you rally try to do something on your own and you fell like, “Wow, that was really good writing night. I came up with that. Me, Chris Michetti.” And someone says, “Hey, you sound like Trey,” or “You look like Trey.” But, you just have to chalk it up to the positive. And you know, we’re a young band and are still developing our sound. VC: Discuss the reasons for Marc Scortino leaving (Scortino is RAQ’s old keyboardist). CM: To paraphrase, the life on the road thing and the giving it all up to go for it, which is what we’re doing in this bad. I mean, we live off whatever you’re going to give us for free. We just love to play. So, we just sacrifice everything we have to play. Marc is a few years older then us, and I don’t think he was really willing to get down. For economic reasons he needed to make a little bit more cash then what we have, which is nothing. We were just moving in a different direction then Marc. So, we knew Todd [Stoops], and his band had just broke up. It was an amicable split. Scortino still writes some songs for us. And, it definitely worked out for the better. VC: Yeh, Stoops really brings a different mind-set and pushes you to play new thing. CM: Selfishly, to play with Stoops has really helped me out for the rest of my life. He’s made us push. We’re not going for Higher Ground sell outs, we’re going for MSG sell outs. VC: How has the addition of Stoops helped the band production? CM: Like I said, before Stoops was there, we all worked really hard and had a fire to do it. But, since Stoops has been there, its like totally out of control. We are always playing. If we’re not playing a show, we are practicing. He is so musical it’s ridiculous. He just spits out music. He’s got such a great grasp on composing and writing. And these are things the rest of us are just lacking. The bottom line, with Stoops, he has bringing to us a new way of doing. VC: Do you guys have plans on recording another album? And what are your thoughts on Shed Tech. CM: We actually stopped selling Shed Tech. It was just because, when January rolled around we had been playing with Stoops for a while. And our more hard-core fans said that it just wasn’t a good depiction of the band. Which, I think that Shed Tech, sounds just like another jamband. And I think we are more than just another jamband, so we shelved it. The new album is going to be recorded in about a month before and after Bonnaroo, which is going to be one of the biggest things we’ve ever done in our lives. Hopefully it’ll be out by the fall. VC: Lastly, here are some more important questions: yogurt or fluff? CM: Fluff VC: Brittany or Christina? CM: Christina VC: Spongebob or No Spongebob? CM: Spongebob.