Fishman Artist // Ra Ra RiotRa Ra Riot formed in January 2006, playing at houses and venues around the Syracuse University campus. They recorded a demo in February 2006. The band started to attract attention due to their energetic live shows, enough to gain an appearance at the CMJ Music Marathon, fewer than six months after their formation. Following this appearance, their live show received the first of several favorable reviews from SPIN.com, who called them "one of the best young bands we've heard in a really long time". They went on to open for Art Brut and Bow Wow Wow in New York City, toured the UK twice on their own, then returned, opening for the Editors (footage of which can be found on Crackle); they also toured North America supporting Tokyo Police Club. Their first solo headlining tour of the U.S. was completed in 2007, and in early 2008, they embarked on a second. The band was also invited to play the Iceland Airwaves Festival, in Reykjavík, Iceland. They have recorded three sessions on the national online radio station WOXY and three for the acclaimed Daytrotter sessions at Futureappletree studio 1 in Rock Island, Illinois.
In 2007, they made their first appearance at South by Southwest and headlined a show at the Seaport Music Festival in New York City. The band returned to appear again at the South by Southwest Music Conference in March 2008.
After a show in Providence, Rhode Island, the band's original drummer, John Ryan Pike, of Hamilton, Massachusetts, went missing in the early morning of June 2, 2007 at Wilbur's Point in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His body was discovered the following day in nearby Buzzards Bay; Pike was believed to have drowned. Ra Ra Riot issued a statement a few weeks after Pike's funeral that they would continue as a band.
In July 2007 an eponymous EP of 6 songs was released on the Rebel Group label. In the winter of 2007, the band signed to major label V2 Records. To celebrate their new label deal, Ra Ra Riot released "Dying Is Fine" and "Each Year (RAC Mix)" on 7" vinyl as an A/B single. In December 2007, the band announced that they had finished recording new songs for their debut LP. During their show in Cambridge, MA on April 25, 2008, the band announced their new album "would be released in August. If not August then September" 2008.
On May 19, 2008, the band announced that they had signed to Barsuk Records. Their debut album The Rhumb Line was released on August 19, 2008 in the United States and Canada. It was released in Europe via V2/Cooperative Music on September 22, 2008. The music video for "Can You Tell" won Best Music Video in the 2009 Finger Lakes Film Festival on November 7, 2009. In the spring of 2009, Barsuk released an EP, Can You Tell, featuring remixes, early demos and live recordings.
The band released their second album called The Orchard on August 24, 2010. "The Orchard" was produced by Ra Ra Riot and Andrew Maury, and 9 of the ten tracks were mixed by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla, and one mixed by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij. The band played several new songs from the album during a February performance in Brooklyn, NY. In 2011 their song "Boy" was used in the episode "A History of Violins" on the tv show "Royal Pains". In January 2011, Ra Ra Riot were nominated for The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards under the Pop/Rock Album category for The Orchard in 2011, their song "Boy" was played in the background of a Honda Civic commercial.
On February 10, 2012, cellist Alexandra Lawn announced that she would be leaving the band.