There are few musicians in Rhode Island who can move around on stage and swagger like Warwick native Rafay Rashid.
He’s the frontman for the Providence garage rock act Ravi Shavi, and they’ve risen to be one of the top acts in the city’s music scene.
He also has a way of writing a song that can get people dancing. It’s the kind of music that can make a room fun to be in while increasing the energy with each note.
On June 21 at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, Ravi Shavi will be playing the upstairs stage with fellow Providence acts Atlantic Thrills and Sweetpea Pumpkin.
Ahead of the show, Rashid and I had a chat about the band’s current lineup, performing in China, a new album released last year and making fun of motivation.
ROB DUGUAY: During Ravi Shavi’s infancy, you were surrounded by a rotating cast of musicians. Now, things are more stable with Nick Politelli on guitar, Bryan Fielding on bass and Nick Iddon on drums. What makes the current version of the band so cohesive?
RAFAY RASHID: I think with our time together, which has been over a year, a lot of it has to do with our ability to communicate with each other. After myself, Nick and Bryan have been in the band longest, and when Nick came into the fold he was a complete pro. We practice fairly often. We’ll talk about ideas and the flow of our conversations always go pretty well. Like I said before, communication is a big key when it comes to how we operate.
RD: A couple of years ago, the band got to play a few shows in Shanghai, China. How did that all come together?
RR: I got to be a part of an exhibit called “Displace” at the Rockbund Art Museum there. Ravi Shavi performed during the opening night, along with my solo project, Rodney, getting to be a part of it. It was a pretty wild time getting to be involved in an event happening in another part of the world with a totally different culture.
RD: In December, Ravi Shavi put out its second full-length album, “Blackout Deluxe.” What was the vision you had going in to making this one? Was it different than making the self-titled debut?
RR: You could say that “Blackout Deluxe” is more of a compilation than an actual album. The record took two years to make and it’s the culmination of two EPs we put out before the release, which are “Independent” and “Courage.” There’s a lot of songs in that album that have been in the catalog for years along with a few that no one heard before it came out. It was vital for us to catch up with putting out our recorded material out so we could take the next step as a band.
RD: Speaking of “Courage,” the band put out a music video for that track which came out around the same time as the album. One thing that’s crazy about it is that it has you wearing white makeup while having blond hair and blue eyes. What made you want to sport that look for the video and where was it filmed?
RR: The video was filmed by Rob Houllahan at Cinelab in New Bedford. “Courage” is a song that kind of pokes fun at those motivational anthems. You know, the ultra-productive mentality of picking yourself up by the bootstraps and getting the job done. It was also made when Trump became president, so that was the inspiration for the character. He kind of materialized in my head as the kind of hollow spokesman for this outlook where you need to be doing something to benefit society at all times at the cost of yourself.
RD: After the upcoming show at the Columbus Theatre, what's next for the band?
RR: We plan on putting out a new album at some point this year. I’m not totally sure when exactly, but this current version of Ravi Shavi hasn’t done a record yet and I’d really like to make that happen. I’ve been writing music on the piano a lot lately so expect that to sneak in on a few new songs.