In Ratatat’s Dreams

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate