In Ratatat’s Dreams

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The first time I saw Ratatat live, the energy of the music prompted me and my college friends to sing through most of the experience—not an unusual reaction for a concertgoer, except when you take into account that Ratatat’s songs have no lyrics. A combination of rhythmic force and the lyrical personality of the central riff made us feel encompassed by a rock or hip-hop ballad—soon the entire room was shaking along to the beat.

The duo, made up of multi-instrumentalist Evan Mast and guitarist Mike Stroud (who’s also played with Dashboard Confessional and Ben Kweller), carves songs out of electronica, hip-hop, and heavy-metal grains, though what sets them apart is their ability to provide clear shape and definition to their instrumental melodies. With their LP4 album, relased in June, they dish out more of these imaginative-yet-controlled tracks—”Party With Children” and “Drugs” being the most climactic. I recently emailed Stroud to ask about his favorite music, guilty pleasures, and fantasy venues.

Mother Jones: What’s the latest song, good or bad, that super-glued itself in
your brain?

Mike Stroud: “In Dreams,” by Roy Orbison (good)
“I Don’t Want the World to See Me,” by the Goo Goo Dolls (amazing)

MJ: Shuffle your iPod and name the first five songs that pop
up.

MS: 1. Metallica, “No Remorse”
2. Led Zeppelin, “You Shook Me”
3. Electric Light Orchestra, “Do Ya”
4. Sam Cooke, “Having a Party”
5. Lou Reed, “Perfect Day”

MJ: Three records you never get sick of listening to?

MS: The Kinks, Arthur
Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Slayer, Reign in Blood

MJ: Name a guilty pleasure—something you like to listen to but don’t like
to admit it.

MS: “Angel” by Aerosmith; “Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo

MJ: Favorite holiday song or album?

MS: Phil Spector’s Christmas Album

MJ: Ratatat was the first group to play a live show inside the Guggenheim. What’s another dream location for you?

MS: The Condom Museum in Amsterdam

MJ: Of all the instruments you play, which one comes to you most naturally?

MS: Harmonica

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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