When you see a photograph of Logan and Roger Raskin, a few words might come to mind: tough, rough and leather. However, you may be surprised to learn there’s a lot more to The Raskins than meets the eye.
Here’s some things you wouldn’t get from a picture of the duo: they’re brothers from New York City who grew up with a jazz singer for a mother and Broadway performer for a father. They started composing and performing original music when they were seven years old. And though both brothers have been involved in television, movies and music for years, they only released their first self-titled album this past May. Two months later, The Raskins found themselves touring with rock legends Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper—a pretty remarkable feat for a band that’s been together for about three years.
You’d think that the sudden spike in popularity could easily go to the brothers’ heads, but one phone interview with Logan confirmed the complete opposite; in spite of their recent success, The Raskins are still down to earth. They’re in this business for their love of music, not the fame. And they’ll always be two humble brothers from the Big Apple who still get excited every time they hear a song of theirs on the radio.
So, I did some research and I found out that your father was famous for his contributions to Broadway and your mother for jazz.
Do you guys feel like the black sheep of the family?
(Laughs) Well, it didn’t start off that way for us. We had both parents who were involved in that genre of music. I mean growing up, that’s what they taught us, you know? My father used to teach us all his sheet music, and that was pretty much the first music we ever learned. […]
[And] eventually as we got a little bit older, growing up in New York City, Roger and I ventured out into the clubs there in the city on the Lower East Side and then that’s pretty much where we got into bands like The Ramones or Iggy Pop And The Stooges or Patti Smith or Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, The Plasmatics, Talking Heads, New York Dolls… On any given night you could see one of these bands or artists playing in any of these clubs down in the Village, and yeah, I mean that’s pretty much when we started to get into that kind of music and then we put together our own band, stuff like that, started playing out around the city, and pretty much grew from there.
So was it kind of easy finding your own groove that differed from your parents?
Well, yeah. I mean we were so surrounded by it. Our parents never wanted us in the music industry, but they wanted us to be surrounded by music all the time, which is funny. But, it was like, how were we not going to be, being that we were raised in such a musical family, you know? […]
But I mean, just being around, living in the city, being around all that kind of music … my parents never stopped us from going to the clubs, pushing in our own direction. They always supported it, but they thought the music industry was a tough industry for them, with all the traveling and nightlife and stuff like that. My mom wanted us to be a doctor or a lawyer I guess as much as any parent would want, but for us it was music at a very young age. Growing up in such a cool place, in the city, where we were surrounded by it, and with such cool artists, it definitely became a major part of our lives, not just because of our parents, but definitely because of where we lived as well.
Do you think it’s surreal to be at this point so fast? I mean, in May you released your first album and in July, you were already performing alongside Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe.
Well, this year [has] definitely been…how can I say? It’s been an exciting and fast-moving year for The Raskins, no question about it. But, we’ve been involved in music our whole lives, so it’s been a journey that most people don’t really know about—about us, how long it’s taken to get to this point. […]
My brother and I were writing music for TV and film for a few years, so basically that’s what we were doing, we were just composing music. […] Pretty much one of our favorite things to do is write music. […] Basically, we were receiving a ton of emails from fans, not only in the United States, but all over the world that had heard our music in a lot of these films or TV shows or whatnot just asking where they could buy the music or see the band play live, see us play live. We were getting emails, emails, emails and I finally just said to Roger, “I think it’s time that we put a band together.” […]
So that’s pretty much what we did, we decided that we were going to put together a group called The Raskins. Basically, we took a year, possibly even more, like a year and a half and just composed all new music. [We] wrote for about a year and a half, made about 60, 70 demos for the record, and then we took probably 12 songs that we felt weren’t necessarily the best, but basically represented us the way we wanted to be represented on this first album, and that’s what we did. We took those 12 songs and made our debut album.
I noticed that the names of the songs on the album were very powerful. Did they just come to you like that or did you have a connecting theme in mind?
No. Pretty much for Roger and I, it was an opportunity to express ourselves through our music, and lyrically, of course. Writing this album was basically writing an open diary for us […] writing about circumstances and situations that happened to us along the way in our musical career, and not only in our musical career, but our life as well. We just took it upon ourselves and thought of it as an opportunity to express ourselves from situations that happened to this date that were important.
Yeah, I was actually going to ask you about more of your songs because I noticed there is a lot of Hollywood imagery in your video for “We Had It All.” What inspired that?
That’s actually an important song as well. It was the first single that we decided to release off the album. Basically, what the song is about is our journey through the music industry and the childhood tribulations me and my brother had. Good times, bad times, and it’s just pretty much people don’t realize how long of a journey it’s been for us. […]
The game has really changed for the artists [in the music industry] and pretty much that’s what that song is about. It’s written about that Roger and I took it upon ourselves at some point to pack our car up and actually leave New York and drive across the country and go to Hollywood, CA because we felt that we needed a change. We were doing some pretty big things in New York City, but we felt that though our career, I wouldn’t necessarily say was moving fast enough, but moving in the direction we wanted it to. […]
But, when the music industry changed, Roger and I realized that we could actually record our own music, build our own fanbase online through YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook and shoot our own music videos. Basically, that’s what we decided to do. […] Roger and I came back to New York, and decided that we never had to really leave New York to accomplish what we really wanted. We put together our own record label, called it Miral Records, which stands for Micah, our older brother, Roger and Logan. Micah is now our business manager, and Roger and I wrote and recorded the record on our own, shot all the music videos ourself, made the website ourself and then built up the fanbase ourself. […]
So right now, we have our own label and we have 100 percent control over everything, creatively and business-wise, and Sony has full distribution on our album, they handle all the distribution. So basically, where we’re at is a point in our musical career where we can make all the decisions. […] That’s the route my brother and I took and it’s really starting to pay dividends now, and that’s what that song is about, “We Had It All.” We never realized it at the time that we had it all, but we had to go through all those trials and tribulations, and that’s what the video is about.
Do you think that all that you’ve been through, combined with the fact that you, as I read on your website, describe your sound as “refreshingly new” and “current to most” sets you apart from other bands?
You mean as far as our sound being influenced by other bands and such?
Yeah, and combined with everything you said—you did your own thing, you started up your own label with your brothers, and you had your passion, you weren’t in it for the money.
Yeah, well a lot of that has contributed to our writing style, to sound like we are The Raskins. And so, pretty much, Roger and I write from the inside out. We write off of emotion, and we write about how we’re feeling; all of that has contributed to our sound and style, there’s no question about it. But, what’s so cool about what we’re doing right now is that there’s no one there telling us that we have to stick to this one style or some major label breathing down my neck saying, “You guys have to do it this way. This is the sound that we’re pushing. This is what we want on the radio,” or something to that effect. This is our ship. We can steer it however we want. […]
Just being a New York boy, I wanted that feel to come out in our music, sound and style. You go to our website, obviously, you get a very quick feel like these are urban kind of guys, they come from that, and it’s just it is what it is, I mean, but a lot of that has to do with everything we’ve gone through, no question about it.
Going back to working with your brother, is it a little bit both exhausting and exciting to work with him all the time?
Yeah, well, not exhausting. Obviously, this is pretty much the first band we’ve been in together, people don’t realize that. We’ve done a lot of things separately and I know how difficult it was being on my own, being in bands where I didn’t have a brother or have someone who 100 percent had my back, would never do something to hurt me. Basically having your own brother in your own band or having to stand up to members involved. Not only do I play in a band with my identical twin brother, but having my brother Micah be our business manager, these are all moves that I made in my musical career and musical life that I can’t believe I didn’t do sooner! (Laughs)
How would you feel if you guys eventually became very commercial or became a household name like Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper?
Like I said, for us it’s just being allowed to do what it is we love to do. I mean, how things kind of grow from here you can control to some extent, but it kind of takes on, it’s kind of an animal that takes on its own thing and grows on its own at some point because basically, you’re putting it out there to the universe and the public are going to perceive things how they perceive things. And all we can do as artists is present it to them. It’s scary. And they basically take it from there.
And so, if we become a household name, then that’s what was meant to be and that would be amazing. I’d be very happy and excited about that. If we weren’t a household name, I’d be very excited about that, too. I’m just happy that we’re being able to do what we love to do.
So, do you have any plans after the tour ends?
Yeah, it doesn’t stop here with this tour. I mean, we’re already talking about next year and possible tours for next year. Next year’s season, there’s a lot more bands that have come up already—the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour, the Cults, Joan Jett came up, Blondie came up, AC/DC actually came up. I thought that was a little bit crazy, but then again, when Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper came up, I thought we had no shot of getting on that, so yeah, it seems like anything’s possible, and I’m willing to try anything.
And my dad always raised us with the philosophy, “Shoot for the stars, maybe you’ll get as high as a treetop.” And basically, that’s what we do, and that’s what we’ve always done. […] That’s where we’re at right now, we’re in the process of 66 U.S. shows. […] And then all next year, it’s going to be touring again. Hopefully, we’ll do that the whole year and possibly go over to Europe, so there’s a lot on the plate for The Raskins coming up. But […] we take it all in stride, we take it day by day, and we really don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
Thanks for the interview, and good luck with the rest of the tour!
Thank you so much! Yeah, we’re excited about it and look forward to coming to the East Coast. Playing in NJ, NY, playing in Jones Beach and Madison Square Garden. Haven’t really wrapped my head around that one yet (laughs), but for a couple of guys who grew up in New York City, it’s a pretty big deal, so yeah, we’re really looking forward to that.
The Raskins will open up for Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper at the Susquehanna Bank Center Aug. 23, Nikon At Jones Beach Theater Aug. 29, the PNC Bank Arts Center Aug. 30, the Borgata Events Center Oct. 24 and 25, and Madison Square Garden Oct. 28. Their self-titled debut album is available now. For more information, go to theraskins.com.