BY STEPHANIE MIRANDA
The Boston DIY scene has been missing one of its best noises; the warm, unpredictable, impulsive, and inviting sound of Raavi and the Houseplants. The local band started when Raavi Lucia (vocals/guitar) and James Duncan (bass) played their first show together during 2016. Never dreaming she would play the songs she wrote, learning guitar to simply accompany herself, Raavi and the Houseplants have gained a presence they never imagined. They now have members like Justin Termotto (guitar), Josef Kiefer (guitar), and Madden Klass (drums). Their sound is unique, a perfect soup of sounds, bouncing from plant rock, emo lounge, and math rock, the group works together to bring their soothing and calling tunes to us. We got the chance to talk to Raavi about the DIY scene, music, tattoos, and other great memories they have, as well as projects the band has coming along.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]
I know the basement scene has been a little off, how do you feel about the DIY scene? Do you feel more at home?
I mean, in Boston, the DIY scene can be very suffocating. But at the same time, I would eat those words so fast, you know? Now that we haven’t performed live in so long, I would kill to be in a basement right now. Just like on a Friday night, seeing some cool bands. Not even necessarily performing, which I would love to do as well, but just to be there, because it really is a great community in many ways. It can be very frustrating when you’re in it, I’m sure I will feel that way again at some point. I think my perception has become a little more cynical, since I was younger. I think, toward the beginning, I looked up to a lot of people who I have come to know better, I see through them in a lot of ways. I hesitate with people always asking me stuff around this, you know? There’s so much I want to say, and I feel afraid to say about the scene and about the people who run it. Sometimes it’s just deceptive. You see queer people, and other people like you, but they don’t necessarily share your experiences. A lot of them don’t acknowledge their privilege. They can be a little performative. So, yeah, I think my perspective has changed, and will continue to change. It’s kind of hard to answer this too, because I’m sure everyone is trying to be better with everything going on. Everyone’s trying to be more conscious about race and diversity. But, I would still love to see more diverse shows. That was something I really tried to do, because I know it can be really clique-y.
Do you think your music has grown with you? From being a part of the DIY scene, starting off at 17, being 21 now, everything that’s happened, do you think it’s affected your music?
Oh, absolutely. The songs I wrote when I was 16, I never planned on performing them. You know what I mean? I was just writing to write and now it’s like, once you are writing for an audience, it’s different. It’s not even necessarily that I put pressure on myself to impress anyone other than myself. But, now I’m writing songs to be made with a band in mind. A few of the songs on the Don’t Hit Me Up record, or on our first EP, I was just writing to write, for the sake of it. I don’t think it’s necessarily been a bad thing. I’m writing in a different way now, it’s always going to be changing. I think my experiences in DIY have shaped me in some way, but with the way that I approach songs, I never really have a narrative in mind. When I start, I’m never really trying to emulate a certain sound. I just start writing and build off of whatever comes out of it.
How did the idea to make merch with thrifted clothes start? It’s something I hadn’t seen before and the outcome looks sick!
Okay, so I can’t even pretend, I’m not the first band to do this by far. The first band that I knew who did it was from the Boston scene, a band called Mint Green. Justin, my guy from day one, was always like, “why don’t we thrift merch? We can do something different, someone can have a turtleneck and somebody can have a tank top and stuff like that.” For a really long time, I was pushing back on that because I just wasn’t organized enough to get that together. I thought it wouldn’t be as cost effective for a while. Eventually, I started feeling really bad about the fast fashion aspect of how these clothes are being made for the first time, just so I can print on them. After that, I started thrifting our merch. It was really fun to curate it. I feel like a Depop shop owner when I say the word curate, but it was really fun to just go buy like a ton of inexpensive clothes that are still really good quality. You can find some really nice stuff out there. The first few times that we dropped merch that was thrifted, it would sell out in two days or something just off a Bandcamp. It was like it was really helpful for quarantine because we couldn’t play shows we couldn’t make any money. You know, not that it’s about money, but we need it to make music. I think merch is also a really important way for bands to interact with the people who listen to their music. Every time I ship something out, I like to write little notes on these huge stickers for everybody.
How did the process for the “Nora” music video come along? It has a very nostalgic feel and I’m curious where you found a donkey that huge!
So, that’s actually a mule! We went to my godmother’s farm in Concord, MA. It’s really beautiful out there. My band was so busy at the time, but my friend Mia really wanted to make it happen for us, she directed it. I just said fuck it. I just gathered a few of my friends and went ahead and shot it. Everyone’s like, “why didn’t you make a video with the band?” and I’m like, well, it was finals week!
One of the biggest things that stood out to me in that same video is your guitar. Frankly, I was jealous of that guitar. What’s the story behind it?
That was the guitar’s first ever outing. I was lucky that it already fit into the color scheme we had previously established. I’d bought that guitar just a few days before. I really was not planning on it. I live really close to this kind of famous guitar store, it’s called Guitar Emporium. I went in there to buy acoustic guitar strings, and I did not leave with acoustic guitar strings. I left with a 4,000 guitar and it literally wiped me out. I saw it and I had to play it. It was just so gorgeous. It’s actually called a Retrograde. It’s from a local brand from the North Shore of Massachusetts. I don’t want to have a guitar that everyone has, you know? I want something unique. It’s hollow bodied, four pounds, maybe even less than that. It was really perfect for me.
You guys released a song about a month ago, “Sticky.” If you could describe it, maybe in a single word or sentence, what would it be? What about your last album?
Oh, God, I don’t know if I could describe “Sticky” honestly, or the album. I didn’t write that album at once, there’s some songs I wrote when I was 16 and 17, and there’s some songs I wrote when we were scrambling to finish. I guess it is in some way, an autobiography biography of myself. It’s interesting because, you know, we just put all the songs together. I feel like it wasn’t the most intentional concept record or anything like that, I write pretty slowly. Sometimes I sit with something for too long, and then I’m like, Well, no, I hate this.
Someone got the art for Don’t Hit Me Up tattooed on themselves, how did you react to that? Also, what’s up with your Save the Fleas tattoo?
That was so cool. Oh, my gosh, I found out about it on vacation at the Cape in the summer. I was so stoked. We have a guy named Maury who does our work, who did a lot of our work for the album. He also designed some of our merch, he lives in Argentina, we met over social media. He liked my music, and I liked his art. Eventually, we were just internet friends. It just made sense. He wanted to do art for us, the album art was based off of a picture that this other artist from Argentina named Mar took. It was this cool thing when this person got this tattoo of this work. He’s a tattoo artist, he did the art and tattoo itself. No one else could do it; he’s the only person who could do that tattoo justice. It was cool, because the person who got it, the original photograph, is a fan of hers, is a fan of mine, and his work and this is a fan of the record. It felt like this perfect triangle of artists appreciation, so it’s really cool. As for the Save the Fleas, the meaning behind that, it’s about performativity online, which I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. I came up with Save the Fleas, because it sounds like save the bees. Something someone would say when they have no idea what’s happening with the bees, you know? It was just something I said for a long time. I have a friend who got a tattoo, on their arm that said, Moses of suburbia, and I thought that was just funny. So then I thought, I have like some nice tattoos, like, I’m due for a stupid tattoo. A friend and I headed to Buffalo Exchange, and there was a cute girl working. She was like, you should get that tattoo, and I was like, I should get that tattoo. It’s like my favorite!
Finally, do you guys have any little sneak peeks you can give us?
Yeah! I don’t mind even just telling you the song name. We’re not sneaky like that, we have a song that will come out eventually. It’s a song we’ve been playing for a really long time. It’s actually older than “Sticky.” It’s called “Major Tool.” I won’t tell you why that’s the name. Maybe once it comes out, we can have another conversation about the name of that song. It’s actually very silly. We’re just gonna do this trip together, and I think everyone wants to get as much done as we can. I think we’re probably going to start recording demos while we’re there. Maybe eventually, we would like to release those separately. Once the actual songs are out on Bandcamp. I think we’re just doing some live sessions, some demos, songwriting, stuff like that.
Raavi and the Houseplants are a group of collaborative, eager, and impulsive friends who make the perfect storm when it comes to music. With compelling narrative lyrics and unexpected but delightful melodies, we can’t wait for their future releases and everything else they have in store for us! Stream “Sticky” on Bandcamp and Spotify, and follow the band via Instagram and Twitter @hooseploonts.