Originally created 08/11/00

Riff Raff treated like kings by Disney



The Riff Raff Kings have, in their two-year history, opened for international acts Bush and Parliament Funkadelic, but no brush with fame could prepare the local band for a run-in with Mickey Mouse.

One of three acts selected to audition for an opening-act spot for soulful girl group Blaque, the funky Augusta quintet will appear on the Disney Channel program The Two-Hour Tour Saturday night at 9:05.

For the band, it represents the chance of a lifetime, the opportunity to perform in front of a national TV audience.

"A lot of people have been riding us about the whole Disney thing," said singer Matt Morrison. "I'll tell you though, I would have been on the 'N Sync channel if it meant we had a platform for our music."

Competing against groups with polished choreography and studio-produced backing tapes, the guitar-wielding Riff Raff boys used their natural talent for improvisation to make a musical point.

"We didn't even practice," Mr. Morrison said. "We had this dance routine that John (Carter, the Riff Raff Kings' other vocalist) and I did, and we totally made it up on the spot. Then the Disney guys made us do it over again about 15 times."

Although they didn't win the competition, the band members felt the experience was more than worth the effort.

"We had a great time," said drummer John "J.J." Bower. "Disney treated us like kings - no pun intended. It really energized us. Sure, we did our song about 18 times, and you'll probably see it for 12 seconds. But it was great."

The band members are old friends who originally came together with a single goal: to play music they loved with friends.

"We all have really different tastes in music, but we're able to come together and make really powerful music that moves people," Mr. Carter said. "I'm not going to say that it's magic or anything, but I feel a connection with these guys that I don't get anywhere else. I think we succeed because these guys are my best friends."

The Riff Raff Kings' sound is an assemblage of varied influences that works hard to defy description. Part rock guitar and part hip-hop rhymes, part funk bass and part syncopated jazz drumming, the music is a seamless blend of styles.

"We're a big, stinky gumbo of rock," Mr. Carter said. "We all come from different musical backgrounds, but the result is really rhythmic. We play music that feels good. If a song feels good then we know it will make an audience feel good. Our music is our exclamation to the world, and we want people to hear it. We itch for it."

Inactive while guitarist Jeremy Carr did summer missionary work in Romania, the Riff Raff Kings are eager to come back together not just to make music, but also to bask in the bond they share.

"That's really the most important thing," Mr. Bower said. "Every band goes through trying times. It's the ones that are willing to drop everything in order to preserve that bond that survive."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.

On TV

What: Riff Raff Kings

When: 9:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Two-Hour Tour on the Disney Channel