While RISCAS were up in the North, we had a chat with the Birmingham-born four piece that have been making noise in the music scene since their catchy chorus’ first caught attention in 2016.
The release of their Calypso EP saw RISCAS debut a new sound; slightly more experimental yet still upbeat. Talking of the EP, they explained, “the songs were all written at the same time, really, we wrote we wrote them ages before we actually recorded them. ‘Dance’ was one of the first songs we ever wrote. That one was probably the hardest to finish ‘cause there’s a lot of layers that go on top; we ended up having to restructure the whole song. Each track usually takes about two sessions to finish but I think ‘Dance’ was about three, four sessions. Not like our new track which is taking about 4 months to finish.”
“Because it came out in like October, November we wanted it to be a summery EP, but in the winter. Tropical and stuff. Especially when the summer’s over everyone’s just like, oh I wish it was summer again, and when they listen to our music we kind of want it to be like … the memories from the summer.”
“Most of them are just feel good songs,” they conclude. “Especially ‘Dance’. The lyrics in the chorus – “dance with me tonight” – just says it all doesn’t it”. For how much they talk about the track, ‘Dance’ is no one in the band’s favourite. “It’s not my favourite,” one member admits, while another simply laughs, “it’s too cheesy. I don’t like it.”
When I ask about the origins of the name and if they still like it, they laugh that Harry should answer that one. “This is Harry’s second show with us,” they explain. “Our drummer left so we got this beast to fill in for a bit. RISCAS came about when we were sat in a cafe and we were like, shite, we need a name. Dan had an Adidas jumper on, and it said RISCAS, ‘cause riscas means stripes in Portuguese. we saw that and we were like, let’s call it that. I still really like our name, ‘cause it’s different, it doesn’t mean anything.”
They laugh about previous, more questionable names such as St National, before explaining that they like RISCAS “because as it’s such a weird word we’re the only thing that people think of when they hear it. When you type in RISCAS on Spotify we’re the only thing that comes up … there’s a Portuguese song called riscas or something but were the only band. If you type in wave or waves or whatever there’s just tons of bands.” “Famous cat in Portugal called riscas and that’s about it,” the bassist interjects. The all-important question, though? “But is it an artist. Can it write Panic Like Tom.”
Many bands that have an early successful song feel overwhelmed by the pressure it brings, but RISCAS are confident they won’t let it drown them. They admit that as it was their first song, there’s a part of them always comparing themselves to that, but they try to focus only on future material. “Our newest track which we’ve just recorded, that’s the proudest I’ve ever been for a track. ‘Cause it’s so different. The new song’s called ‘Take It Easy’, and you’re the first person to know that. I think after Panic, because it did really well there’s always going to be pressure; you don’t want the other songs to flop. I think we did kind of panic a bit – ironically – and tried to just write the same old crappy songs, but with this new one we went in with absolutely nothing, started from scratch. We just put a lot more time and passion into it. It’s really different, it’s more of like a jazzy song – I think we did just want to branch out a bit and hopefully get a few more listeners from a different genre of music just so it reaches more people, really, than just like the same old indie sphere.”
“Every song we write and record now we want it to be different from any other song we’ve recorded. We want to be unpredictable. We just want to be a bit different and try new things – if it flops, it flops; it’s just a new experience. In the studio we just worked with horn players and stuff, and that’s the first time we’ve ever worked with anyone else – any other musicians. And it was so refreshing cause they’re like, proper musicians and we’re just like … what’s an E squared? We just want to work with as many people as we can, we want to work with an orchestra or something like that.”
There’s a unanimous chorus of “Russia” when I ask if anyone has a particular favourite gig. “We did our last show of a tour in Russia and it was … we were really, really drunk. And we played crap. Everything was out of tune and going wrong, my voice was shot, but it was so good because we’d been there for like 5 days, and played all these shows and that was the last one. It was like a celebration. We got the band that helped out to come on stage with us, all the Russians were whipping their T shirts off, swinging belts about, I was on kids’ shoulders. You finished singing the national anthem,” he laughs. “yeah that was the best gig,” the guilty party agrees.
The music has seen an undeniable growth, owing to the fact that the band members themselves have also matured since the first tracks were released. “I feel like as time goes on we sort of see more of what we listen to in the music,” they muse. “As four people we listen to really different stuff. We don’t actually listen to the bands that you would compare us to; it’s really just coincidence that that’s the style we’ve made.”
As well as being truly passionate about improving their music, RISCAS were easily one of the loveliest band’s I’ve talked to. Their autumn tour is finishing up, but check out the band on social media and streaming platforms to keep up with their future releases and activities.