Well yeah, in this case, seriously. Picture this: You’re in a young, unknown band. One day you’re slogging away doing gigs in local clubs, and the next day you’re playing arenas, opening for Motley Crue and Alice Cooper on the Crue’s farewell tour. Pretty damn cool, huh?
Logan Raskin is calling from his tour bus, on the highway somewhere in the middle of the country on the way to the next stop on the tour. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he’s a journalist’s dream–ask him a question and he’ll talk nonstop for five minutes. “It’s been an incredible tour so far, it’s been a dream ride for The Raskins. We’re probably about 20 shows into the tour, and being in front of this many fans, being able to play these monumental arenas, it’s been a dream come true for us. It seems the fans are really digging what we’re doing live, the response has been overwhelming, both bands have been really welcoming, they’re really excited about what we’re doing and they’re really happy we’re an addition to the tour. Yeah, for someone who’s into music as much as myself it’s a dream come true.”
Every young musician reading this with awe and perhaps more than a little bit of jealousy is probably wondering how Logan and his twin brother Roger managed to win the musical equivalent of the lottery.
“Initially, I thought it was going to be tricky getting onto this tour, and I was kind of surprised that the agents and everyone on Motley Crue’s side really liked what we were doing. They liked the videos, and they liked the album. But they needed to get all four guys in Motley Crue into one room at once to make the final decision about having us on the tour. The agent said ‘you know how difficult it is getting those guys into one room?’ We had to wait something like two weeks, they finally got them into one room, and they listened to the music and watched the videos and they loved it! It was their decision to bring us out on this tour. Nikki Sixx it turns out is a fan of our music, he likes our style, plays our music on his radio show all the time. That said, our live show pulls weight! All I can say is come out and see the show. You can see it in the reaction from the fans. We do a meet and greet after the show, and I can see how these fans are excited about what we’re doing, and we really seem to be connecting with these fans. That’s always what we wanted to do. We wanted to have a high-energy rock show, but we wanted to release a record that wasn’t one specific style that really demonstrated our writing and creativity. We’re on this dream ride right now, and all the cards are falling our way, it’s been a magical year so far.”
If getting on the tour was a big challenge, an Everest-sized hurdle to overcome has been to survive and thrive. Not since Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees has there been such an apparent odd pairing. Motley Crue, the original tattooed bad-boy rockers whose glam metal sound was born in the gutters of Los Angeles seems light years away from the upbeat, lighter sound and cleaner image of the Raskins.
When queried on that, Logan responds “That’s a very good question. When you listen to our album, it brings on a couple of thoughts. First of all, when writing this album, we did it ourselves. We wanted to put out a debut album that showcased our writing style and influences—all of those influences. We didn’t want to just put out a straightforward rock record. We wanted a record that showed the dynamics that we have creatively and musically, and we wanted to take people on a ride, not just straightforward rock songs, but pop songs, rock songs, we wanted ballads on there, we wanted to show the depth that The Raskins have musically and creatively. So yes—getting back to your question, being on a tour like this, when The Raskins take the stage, they’re giving us a small window to perform; we do a half-hour set. In that 30 minutes that we play, we pretty much bring it hard. We you see us live, we’re very aggressive on stage, we’re very high-energy, we bring forward the high energy songs because we’re playing such a short set. So when people who are at the concert buy our record later and sit down and listen to it, they say ‘Wow, there’s a lot more dynamic to these guys that we thought.’”
The brothers Raskin have very strong musical roots, starting with their parents. Logan picks up the story: “I grew up in a family of singers. My mom was a jazz singer, my dad was a Broadway fan. When my dad was on Broadway, they didn’t mic anything. You had to sing on stage and reach that back row. So my dad has a very strong theatrical voice. Growing up in that environment, Roger and I became strong singers. That was the first instrument we learned how to use, our voices. Granted, we learned how to play piano and guitar and a bunch of other musical instruments, but vocals were something that was very important to us, it was something that we wanted to feature on this project. We wanted to feature the two of us singing together, because that’s really a magical Raskins sound. It’s not just Logan singing by himself or Roger singing by himself. When we sing together, we create this tonality and sound and style that we define as the Raskins sound. I kind of have a lower raspier voice, and Roger has a higher voice, and we create this sound that defines who we are. We really try to go out of the way to feature that in our music. Growing up in Chelsea in New York, we listened to aggressive rock bands such as the Stooges and Patty Smith and the Ramones and the Talking Heads and the New York Dolls. We were also hugely influenced by Simon and Garfunkle. Huge influence for Roger and I, as was Steely Dan and Ritchie Havens. Hearing an artist such as Simon and Garfunkle, and hearing those vocal harmonies was something that made a big impact on Roger and I. Being in a project together, and having the opportunity to sing together was something that we really wanted to put at the forefront of this project.”
“What people don’t understand is that Roger and I have been in and out of bands our whole lives. We know what that journey has been for us. It’s been a difficult one. People assume that Roger and I have been together in bands for many years, but this is actually the first band that we’ve played in together. We originally started as a writing project. We were writing a lot for TV and film, and that’s how this project got started. We were receiving tons of emails—not just in the U.S., but from fans in Europe and Australia. ‘Where can we buy the music, when can we see you guys play live.’ So basically for us, the writing was on the wall. We felt it was just a matter of time before we had to put this together as a physical band because it seemed that people really wanted to see it and hear it. So that’s what we did, we took about a year, year and a half, recorded all new material for the record. Took time to put a band together. The music supervisor that we used to write for, he couldn’t tell us apart. Didn’t know who was Logan and who was Roger, we were constantly hearing ‘let’s get The Raskins here for a meeting, let’s call The Raskins.’ When it came time to put this project together, it was pretty much a no-brainer for us as to what we were going to call it! We decided to put a band together around us. We got three of the strongest musicians we could find out in Hollywood because that’s where we did some of the recording, we put together this kick-ass band, but for us, being in and out of bands our whole lives, we know how hard it is to keep bands together. This time, we were going to do things a little different. The foundation and the nucleus of the band was going to be Roger and I. Neither of us are going anywhere, we’re not leaving each other, we’re brothers, we’re twins, we’ve been together our whole lives, so there’s a foundation there that we felt was incredibly solid, and something very solid to build upon.”
“We are a band. People kind of think it’s a solo thing, and we’re not that. Roger and I do a lot of acoustic stuff and when we go to the radio stations and TV appearances it will be just Roger and I, but that’s only because they ask for that. We are a full band, and I do what people to realize that. I never wanted to be a solo artist, Roger never wanted to be a solo artist. It seems that since we’re gone with this concept, we’re has success. Things have gone forward.”
Their debut album is a catchy 12-track effort with irresistible hooks and layers of complex vocal parts, but if there is one criticism, it’s that the lyrics are nearly indecipherable. For two guys are place such a strong emphasis on vocals, it’s a bit puzzling. Most songwriters have something very important to say in their lyrics, and would seem to want people to readily be able to pick up what they are singing about.
Logan isn’t surprised by the query. “It’s a great question and it’s something that’s been brought up to us a lot. There are a lot of artists that you can’t make out the lyrics, and it just drives my parents crazy. When we mix tracks, I have the vocals set to where they’re comfortable for me. A lot of times where I push those vocals up front and yes, they’re clearer and you can understand them, maybe for understanding lyrics it’s better, but for how it’s sonically feeling to me, I always like to tuck that vocal a little bit. It pisses people off, but in one respect it drives people to look at the liner notes and to go through the lyrics, which I dig. We also got heavily into shooting these lyric videos, which seem to be doing quite well online, maybe because you can’t understand what I’m saying [laughs]. One of my favorite records was Pearl Jam’s first record. You couldn’t understand a word Eddie Vedder was singing, yet it was my favorite record of the year! I kind of love that! It may not be technically correct, grammatically correct or whatever, but when I’m mixing and I’m setting the vocals into the track where I’m comfortable with it, it could be a subconscious thing, overall I’m trying to create a sound, and I like to utilize my vocal as an instrument. That’s just what I’m into. It drives some people crazy because they can’t understand the lyrics. Possibly on the second album I might push for a different feel, I’ve been playing around with that, and I’ll see how I feel. I probably could have spent another two months working on the album, but at some point you got to put it out there and let it go.”
Logan brings the interview full circle by returning to the road he’s currently travelling on. “We’ve learned a lot about being on a tour of this magnitude, about what it takes to put on a production of this size, and we’re gained an incredible amount of exposure. It’s been amazing, it’s been tough, but it’s been awesome at the same time. I just hope that we can continue to push the envelope and grow our fan base. What’s amazing for us is that we’re able to create music full-time, it’s a dream come true. It’s why we got involved in music, it’s what drives me every day. I didn’t get into this business to make millions of dollars, I got in to do what I love so much, which is write music, create music and perform music. We’re being allowed do that in front of these huge crowds at these monumental arenas. It’s been a dream come true, and I just hope it continues for The Raskins.”