Riff Raiders on their new single, gender equality and the classic rock sound

Bands that can transport their listeners to an earlier time period by paying homage to classic bands are admirable and deserving of attention. Riff Raiders prove their time travelling tendencies on the visceral and speaker-blowing single Live Like You Mean It.

The track melds the sounds of many classic rock bands together into one fiery tune. With debut album A Million Miles Away coming later in the year, the band is set to deliver this furious-and-then-some sound across 11 tracks.
After the recent release of Live Like You Mean It, we talked to guitarist Marty Powell about the current classic rock scene and how this, among other things, influenced the band’s sound for the new album.
As the band’s predominant songwriter, Powell considered what the Riff Raiders’ simple yet diverse sound on their new single and album truly is. “I don’t mean this in a rude way, but some bands really want to stay in the one sound and what you hear is what you get. We’re called the Riff Raiders, so the idea is, the songs are all riff based, but as you can already hear, they are reasonably dynamic.
“There are other styles that we have done. There are some grunge songs and there’s a lot of high-energy Black Crowes groove, more progressive sort of stuff across the album. They are not all those AC/DC-style, straight-ahead rockers, but there are no ballads on the record either. Just nice big riffs,” Powell says.
Reflecting on this sound and, perhaps, why it’s making such a comeback – with musicians such as Wolfmother, Jack White and the Darkness continuing to fly the flag – Powell believes that a no-bars-held approach is the best way to understand modern rock.
“It’s rock‘n’roll. It’s what I’ve grown up with and liked,” Powell says. “I thought, ‘Well, let’s just do it and don’t over think it’ in regards to the style, and I think that’s why you’re hearing a freshness to that classic sound.”
Led by the powerful Jenni James on demanding vocals, Powell suggests that being a female-led band diversifies the Riff Raiders’ sound and makes it more exciting.
“Having a female singer gives us a different angle, I really like that,” he says. “Doing this classic Aussie rock thing and having a female vocalist; it’s not so misogynistic, or the lyrics don’t fall into some of those traps that those styles have had in the past. We find when we do gigs, we get a really nice cross-section of people as a result of that.”
From this important point of gender equality in performance and social awareness in lyrics, Riff Raiders made a conscious effort to ensure the lyrics of Live Like You Mean It stood out from similar sounding bands. “I was really conscious about that,” Powell says. “I think some older bands can try and lecture at people. I hate hearing from anyone that ‘Things were better in their day’ or ‘You’re not doing this right.’ That’s not the message, it’s just ‘Hey, we’re all here, we’re so lucky with what we’ve got, let’s have a ball with it.’”
With plenty of gigs already up their sleeves as a cover band, Powell reflected on younger bands, like Sisters Doll, joining the scene and whether those years of experience make or break a band.  “To me, it’s just the style. To be honest, that’s just what comes out. It’s probably just where your starting point is coming from, and you do try to do things in a more modern way but you’re still ending up sounding like you are, if it’s coming from the heart then you can’t help that.”
Powell has a more sentimental approach to the scene, and music as whole for that matter. “If you like what you’re doing in music, I think people can tell what that is. It shines through.”
This sentiment is clear with fans as well, with their new single even connecting with fans as far away as Brazil. “It feels really good,” Powell says. “There’s certainly a bit of a buzz there. I don’t know if it’ll turn into anything, but they’re loving the video and the song.”

Riff Raiders will perform at Workers Club on Sunday September 17.