Ra Ra Riot discuss teaming up with Oxfam to fight poverty and hunger around the world

By Laura Ferreiro

Ra Ra Riot recently embarked on a tour across North America in support of their new album “Beta Love,” and they invited Oxfam America to come along. The New York-based indie rockers have been long-time supporters of the international charity that works to end poverty, hunger and injustice.

Music for Good caught up with Ra Ra Riot violinist Becca Zeller as they were getting ready to hit the road. She explained that after learning about Oxfam from their band manager years ago, Ra Ra Riot decided to invite Oxfam staff and volunteers along to their shows to tell their fans about the important work they do and to recruit more volunteers.

“Having them set up a booth at our shows didn’t seem like it would have that big of an impact, but we heard that people who became interns (for Oxfam) heard about them at our shows and got involved,” Zeller says. “That is the goal but we didn’t realize things would connect so directly!”

Zeller adds that she likes the fact that Oxfam works on so many vital issues. “Something I find appealing is the broad scope because there are so many organizations that are so specific,” she says. “Oxfam is able to do a lot of good in so many places for so many people. They’re able to impact more people’s lives. There are also little things I love about them—like around the holidays, you can buy someone a well or a llama. Little marketing things like that. They use holidays as a time to come up with creative ways that people can see the impact their money is making.”

Bob Ferguson, Oxfam’s Manager of Creative Alliances, says that their relationship with Ra Ra Riot is one of the most special relationships they’ve had with a band.

“Every step of their career they’ve always been thoughtful enough to take us with them,” Ferguson says. “We’ve set up tables at close to 100 gigs of theirs, and they’ve done PSAs for us. We also did a video interview at SXSW and they even mentioned us in their liner notes. I really feel that they inspire my work in ways that go beyond music.”

When Ra Ra Riot was playing shows in the UK, they realized that most people there knew all about Oxfam, whereas in the U.S., the international charity isn’t as much of a household name. “Because we spend a lot of time traveling, we’re exposed to a lot of things,” says Zeller. “It feels good to be able to expose people to things they haven’t heard of, but it’s a power that should be held delicately. Maybe it’ll be slightly more legitimized if our fans know that someone whose music they like and respect supports the organization.”

Keep an eye out for Oxfam on the following Ra Ra Riot tour dates:

2/8   Seattle/Neptune Theatre
2/9   Portland/Wonder Ballroom
2/11  San Francisco/Fillmore
2/12  Los Angeles/El Rey
2/16  Tucson/Club Congress
2/20  Austin/Belmont
2/25  Carrboro NC/Cat’s Cradle
2/26  Asheville, NC/Gray Eagle Tavern
2/28  Columbus/A&R Music Bar
3/1   Chicago/Metro
3/2   Madison/Rathskeller @ UW
3/3   Minneapolis/Triple Rock
3/5   Ann Arbor/Blind Pig
3/7  Montreal (WITH OXFAM QUEBEC)
3/8   Burlington/Higher Ground
3/9   Northampton MA/Pearl Street

Click here to learn more about Oxfam America or to volunteer with the Oxfam Action Corps.

Listen to the title track from Ra Ra Riot’s “Beta Love”

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