Riff Raiders


In this video the THRS Crew give their thoughts on the debut album from Melbourne band Riff Raiders. This was quite a hot audience request and went extremely well during our audience choice Top Ten Releases of 2017 polling. Give it a watch and give us your thoughts on the album!
Join us as we catch up with Melbourne band Riff Raiders! In this video we chat about their debut album, the history of the band and what's next for them! This was filmed at Whole Lotta Love Bar, Melbourne.


The Music Producer
Live Reviews Sydney Tour 23 & 24 Aug 2019

Summary: Melbourne’s Riff Raiders have been playing sold out shows and picking up a legion of fans along the way for their explosive live performances since they reformed and have new members. Everyone loves them, and so should you……………….

Gig Date: 23th August 2019
Venue: The Hideaway Bar, Enmore, Sydney, Australia The Hideaway Bar
Rating: 9.5/10 guitars
My review:
•Absolutely amazing performance. Captivating.
•For a mental & aural image think: AC/DC Rhythm section, fronted by a (Annie Lennox looking) Joan Jet vocal, with the performance energy and live show of Jet. Got it???!
•‘#LiveLikeYouMeanIt’ is such a great song (DOWNLOAD IT NOW!)
•I’m so glad you stuck with it as a band and continued your creative force
•Definitely a new fan

RIFF RAIDERS – Mother-funken’ red hot Rock
Gig Date: 24th August 2019
Venue: Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice, Sydney, Australia Frankie's Pizza
Genre: Rock/Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10 guitars
My review:
•Pure talent
•Modern edged rock and roll.
•Nonstop energetic and catchy riffs mixed with down to earth in your face mother-funken’ lyrics.
•If you haven’t heard of them, please fix your future and look them up… RIGHT NOW!!


100% ROCK MAGAZINE - 7 June 2018
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8½ /10

Yeah baby, the debut album from Melbourne’s Riff Raiders finally landed on our desk and it’s a slinky, catchy, classy serve of gotta-have-it rock AND roll.

Proudly fronted by the awesome vocals of Jenni James, the band tell it like it is: positive, life-affirming rock n’ roll made for singing, sweating and – if that’s your bag – drinking to.

Sisters In Arms features a loosey goosey guitar riff so immediate that you’ll think you wrote it yourself; while the middle-finger-raised anthem D-GAF may be the best rock song released last year. Tailor made for singing at the top of your voice with a super-simple punky riff, it does everything rock n’ roll is supposed to.

A Million Miles Away could be a new wave hit of days gone by if it had a suitable synth part, so mesmerising are its glacial guitars and vocals, and there’s a sprinkling of AC/DC magic over the title track. James lets rip in style, and close your eyes and you can imagine that perhaps Bon Scott is the only person who could have sung it better.

You’ll note by now that every song draws from different influences. Rather than wall to wall pub rock, the diversity makes Live Like You Mean It a joy to listen to – a journey, in a sense.

The bouncy rock of Spinning Off The Rails leads perfectly into If You Want My Love and album closer Born To Raise Hell, both excellent covers of a couple of Cheap Trick’s best, showing their key influence right there.

Video Premiere: Riff Raiders cut loose in 'D-GAF'
The Melbourne hard rock outfit have released a pearler.

BEAT MAGAZINE 2 November 2017

'D-GAF' is two minutes and 47 seconds of unbridled rock 'n' roll from Riff Raiders, taken from their scorching album Live Like You Mean It out Wednesday November 8. 

The record is produced by guitarist and Riff Raiders' principal songwriter Marty Powell alongside Gavin Parker (Brown Hornet, Napalm) and offers their most focused, visceral release to date. 

The killer video features animation and art from Melbourne-based illustrator Brook Penrose, merging raw live footage with psychedelic animations. 

Check out another banging track from Riff Raiders here. 

Once again, Riff Raiders are proving to the world that honest to goodness Aussie rock is far from dead. In fact, they're bringing it back to life with a vengeance. 


Catch Riff Raiders at Last Chance Rock'n'Roll Bar, Melbourne on Saturday November 11 with Moonshifter and Snark, and at Vic on the Park Hotel, Sydney, on Thursday December 7. 



Riff Raiders take a punk-infused approach to classic rock ‘n’ roll, with a sound that has a touch of The Cult, and a sprinkling of Hair Metal. Pulling together elements of some of the catchiest heavy genres, it’s no surprise Riff Raiders’ music is filled with hooks to draw the listener in. Jenni James’ vocals are filled with charisma and attitude, while Marty Powell’s guitar work brings the truth to the Riff Raiders’ name with chunky rhythms and fast leads. Riff Raiders are a sure bet for any rocker’s party playlist. Formerly a cover band of rock B-sides and obscura, Riff Raiders have now released their debut album of originals, making their own mark on the rock landscape!

click here for rankings

ALBUM REVIEW Riff Raiders live like you mean it

CRY OF THE WOLF MAGAZINE - UK - 8 November 2017

Fans of hard rock will not be disappointed with RIFF RAIDERS. This is pure, modern edged rock and roll. Nonstop energetic and catchy riffs mixed with down to earth in your face lyrics. This is a sonic painting with many colors bleeding into one solid ball of rock. Vocalist Jenni James shines on the lead off track, "Live Like You Mean It." The song is so catchy you will find yourself singing along and playing it loud. The lead guitar break is tasteful and powerful. 

Production is top notch. This band has captured a live feel to the recording. I am sure Riff Raiders puts on one hell of a show live. If this album is any indication then we will be hearing a lot more from this band in the future.  Over all this entire album rocks from beginning to end.

Stand out tracks include: "Sleeping with the lights on", "Born to raise hell", "Sisters in arms."

8/10 wolf howls

Video Premiere: Riff Raiders unleash 'Live It Like You Mean It'

BEAT MAGAZINE 15 August 2017

Melbourne's purveyors of big riffs, Riff Raiders, have dropped their latest single - the fiery Live It Like You Mean It

Paying ode to the golden days of Australian rock, their new track comes locked and loaded with big guitars and even bigger vocals. 

It's an enticing taste of what's in store for their hotly anticipated debut album of all original material which is due later this year. Featuring 11 tracks of riff-laden, melody driven rock.

RIFF RAIDERS // The Lucky Country Rockers


When Riff Raiders’ single Live Like You Mean It dropped, ears pricked up. When the album of the same name dropped, hands went up – Riff Raiders have, in their debut release, solidified classic Aussie rock, the pride of Australian music, and rock ‘n’ roll fans couldn’t be more stoked..(read more)......

Riff Raiders - PROFILE


Why should we give Live Like You Mean It a listen? We approached this album in the way bands used to. They had time pressures to write and record the music while touring, which gave it an edge. The songs were written in a five-month burst, making no exception that each song had to be jam-packed with exciting riffs, melodies and words. It’s an album with an A-side and B-side; with absolutely no filler. It was recorded in a two-week burst using vintage gear to give it a warm sound.

Tell us about your latest single ‘D-GAF’. Riff Raiders is about creating new music in the classic rock style, riff-based rock of the ‘70s to ‘90s. Big vocals, big drums, very big guitars with catchy melodies. All our songs must have at least one riff. ‘D-GAF’ draws on the early-‘90s grungy rock’n’roll vibe.

You worked with Melbourne-based illustrator Brooke Penrose for your artwork. How did you get together? We wanted consistent artwork on our releases that were hand drawn in the classic comic strip style. Brooke’s style fitted the bill perfectly.  The character Riff is our mascot. This helped inspire the comic strip idea for the ‘D-GAF’ video.

For anyone unfamiliar, what can we expect from a Riff Raiders show? We play a solid set packed with a number of hard rock styles. As well as our originals, we mix it up with a few classic album tracks from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Queen and Led Zeppelin.

Riff Raiders launch their debut album Live Like You Mean It at The Last Chance Rock & Bar on Saturday November 11, with special guests Moonshifter and Snark.

Riff Raiders on their new single, gender equality and the classic rock sound


Bands that can transport their listeners to an earlier time period by paying homage to classic bands are admirable and deserving of attention. Riff Raiders prove their time travelling tendencies on the visceral and speaker-blowing single Live Like You Mean It.

The track melds the sounds of many classic rock bands together into one fiery tune. With debut album A Million Miles Away coming later in the year, the band is set to deliver this furious-and-then-some sound across 11 tracks.
After the recent release of Live Like You Mean It, we talked to guitarist Marty Powell about the current classic rock scene and how this, among other things, influenced the band’s sound for the new album.
As the band’s predominant songwriter, Powell considered what the Riff Raiders’ simple yet diverse sound on their new single and album truly is. “I don’t mean this in a rude way, but some bands really want to stay in the one sound and what you hear is what you get. We’re called the Riff Raiders, so the idea is, the songs are all riff based, but as you can already hear, they are reasonably dynamic.
“There are other styles that we have done. There are some grunge songs and there’s a lot of high-energy Black Crowes groove, more progressive sort of stuff across the album. They are not all those AC/DC-style, straight-ahead rockers, but there are no ballads on the record either. Just nice big riffs,” Powell says.
Reflecting on this sound and, perhaps, why it’s making such a comeback – with musicians such as Wolfmother, Jack White and the Darkness continuing to fly the flag – Powell believes that a no-bars-held approach is the best way to understand modern rock.
“It’s rock‘n’roll. It’s what I’ve grown up with and liked,” Powell says. “I thought, ‘Well, let’s just do it and don’t over think it’ in regards to the style, and I think that’s why you’re hearing a freshness to that classic sound.”
Led by the powerful Jenni James on demanding vocals, Powell suggests that being a female-led band diversifies the Riff Raiders’ sound and makes it more exciting.
“Having a female singer gives us a different angle, I really like that,” he says. “Doing this classic Aussie rock thing and having a female vocalist; it’s not so misogynistic, or the lyrics don’t fall into some of those traps that those styles have had in the past. We find when we do gigs, we get a really nice cross-section of people as a result of that.”
From this important point of gender equality in performance and social awareness in lyrics, Riff Raiders made a conscious effort to ensure the lyrics of Live Like You Mean It stood out from similar sounding bands. “I was really conscious about that,” Powell says. “I think some older bands can try and lecture at people. I hate hearing from anyone that ‘Things were better in their day’ or ‘You’re not doing this right.’ That’s not the message, it’s just ‘Hey, we’re all here, we’re so lucky with what we’ve got, let’s have a ball with it.’”
With plenty of gigs already up their sleeves as a cover band, Powell reflected on younger bands, like Sisters Doll, joining the scene and whether those years of experience make or break a band.  “To me, it’s just the style. To be honest, that’s just what comes out. It’s probably just where your starting point is coming from, and you do try to do things in a more modern way but you’re still ending up sounding like you are, if it’s coming from the heart then you can’t help that.”
Powell has a more sentimental approach to the scene, and music as whole for that matter. “If you like what you’re doing in music, I think people can tell what that is. It shines through.”
This sentiment is clear with fans as well, with their new single even connecting with fans as far away as Brazil. “It feels really good,” Powell says. “There’s certainly a bit of a buzz there. I don’t know if it’ll turn into anything, but they’re loving the video and the song.”

Riff Raiders will perform at Workers Club on Sunday September 17.


THE MUSIC (Melbourne) 6 September 2017 HOWZAT Local Music by Jeff Jenkins (page 32-33)

Riff Raiders is a great name for a band that plunders from the past. And that's not a criticism. Riff Raiders are a glorious celebration of the classics - think Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. After being in a number of original bands, singer Jenni James and guitarist Marty Powell started Riff Raiders as a fun party band, covering their favourite rock tunes, but it's now evolved into a mighty original outfit, with an album coming later this year. First single Live Like You Mean It is a love letter to rock'n'roll and a slap-down to the doomsayers who reckon rock is dead. "If rock'n'roll is dead" Jenni asks, "then why's this song stuck in your head?" Excellent point, Riff Raiders. Rock lives! They're launching the single with a special Sunday afternoon show at The Workers Club on 17 Sep.

HOT LINE "All I need to know is in a rock'n'roll show" - Riff Raiders, Live Like You Mean It.



Jenni James is well known for her powerful-as-fuck vocals in Melbourne rock outfit Riff Raiders. We had a chat with Jenni about what it’s like to front a band as a female, how the music scene has changed and their brand spanking new album from Riff Raiders.


The Melbourne Critique - SOUND - 28 October 2017 by Jessi Lewis

Melbourne is the spiritual and physical home of pure bread rock n roll in Australia and Riff Raiders are testament to that! They play like they mean it, with monstrous riffs, thundering drums and vocals built for good times, they are the embodiment of classic Aussie rock.  In homage to our triumphant local scene Melbournes’ Riff Raiders  were form back in 2015 belting out B-sides and obscure gems from the hard rock acts that inspired them. Made up of indie stalwarts of the original scene, the band has blown away punters with their authentic approach and edgy finesse to playing rock’n’roll.  In this guise, Riff Raiders were one of the very few cover acts to be accepted by the original scene, but this was never the long-term ambition of the band.  Soon to launch their debut Album, Live Like You Mean It  this November, Marty Powell and Jenni James from the group spoke with The Melbourne Critique about life, love and inspiration...........

RIFF RAIDERS // New South Detroit Rock City

HYSTERIA MAG 16 August 2017 / WORDS Mike Hohnen, Hysteria Radio and The Editor / Heartbreaker, baybay

Hailing from Rock City, Australia, aka Melbourne, Riff Raiders are gearing up to leave their dent on the Rock & Roll community with their debut album A Million Miles Away.

Cutting their teeth with faithful renditions of B-sides from Led Zeppelin, Queen, and other greats of the scene, Riff Raiders have earned a rep as a band who can, well, rock your socks off. The first single from the album, Live Like You Mean It, sees frontwoman, Jenny, lead the charge atop a solid old-school rock groove. The gods of Aussie rock would be proud.

Ahead of the release of Live Like You Mean It, we spoke with guitarist and creative force Marty Powell. click here


“Riff Raiders play like they mean it. Monstrous riffs, thundering drums and a vocal to raise the dead. With Live Like You Mean It, they’ve delivered a stirring love letter to rock ’n’ roll, a fist-in-the-air anthem that’s alive on arrival This line says it all: “If rock ’n’ roll is dead then why’s this song stuck in your head?”” -  Jeff Jenkins, The Music / Rock’n’Roll author


BEAT MAGAZINE 8 June 2016 (Q&A)

So, what are the Riff Raiders all about?
Classic Rock and killer riffs. We bust out the gems from classic hard rock artists from the ‘70s that often go unplayed.
What has been your favourite gig to date?
Packed house at rock central Cherry Bar in April. Two sets, no supports and the crowd went absolutely nuts.
What do you love about playing live?
The immediate feedback from the crowd. It’s like a drug, or food. I could live on that shit. The energy and force that the band generates is like riding on the bonnet of a semi trailer. A bit scary, fucking loud and totally exhilarating.
What do you hate about playing live?
Not much really. It’s hard for me to try and save my voice and not yell-talk to every punter before the show, so the late ones suck a bit that way. Keeping the gear safe afterwards is a bit of a drag sometimes too.
Why have you singled out the music of Cheap Trick for this Saturday’s gig?
Celebrating Cheap Trick’s 2016 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame gave us the perfect excuse to play their live album in full. Marty [guitar] and I have been fans of the band since we were teenagers. Their recorded catalogue is incredible and their live shows truly epic.
They have all the pieces of the personality puzzle – the crazy guitarist, the beautiful singer that has one of the best pop/rock voices in history, the geeky drummer and the fuckable bass player with an overdraft of strings.

RIFF RAIDERS present Cheap Trick’s At Budokan on Saturday June 11 at the Flying Saucer Club, plus tunes by Queen, Zoot, Easybeats, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin.

Riff Raiders Return By Popular Demand With Cheap Trick Tribute


After The Riff Raider's first tribute to legendary rockers Cheap Trick received a huge turnout and rave reviews, the band has returned to do it all over again with an encore show. 

The Melbourne-based powerhouse rock act will be paying tribute to Cheap Trick by playing all the hits from the album that started it all, At Budokan, as well as some extra Cheap Trick favourites thrown in for good measure. 
In a follow-up set, The Riff Raiders will also pay tribute to other Hall-of-Famers including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath done in their own style, digging into lesser known B-sides from the rock heavyweights.  

It’s all happening at the Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick, on Saturday June 11

The Age Newspaper 8 April 2016

Saturday, 8pm, Cherry Bar, AC/DC Lane, Melbourne, $15
Cheap Trick tribute group play At Budokan in full to celebrate the legendary group's induction in to the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.



When you think about cover bands, terms like ‘unconventional’ and ‘left of centre’ don’t usually spring to mind. Cover bands tend to specialise in a bunch of safe rock songs designed to please a specific audience. But Melbourne’s Riff Raiders are a cover band with a difference, as guitar player Marty Powell explains. “We formed this band about a year ago,” he says. “We’d all come from original band backgrounds, and we wanted to do something a bit different. Instead of just being a usual cover band, we wanted to do some seminal 70's hard rock acts, but not all their obvious songs".

“Case in point, [Thin Lizzy’s] The Boys are Back in Town has been done to death, so do Emerald and Cowboy Song and all that sort of thing. Zeppelin, we do The Rover and Misty Mountain Hop as opposed to the more obvious tracks. And we like to give them a bit more respect. I go to a bit of effort with changing guitars and having the right effects and all that. So that’s the idea.”

So far, this approach has gained Riff Raiders a very positive reaction. The feedback they’ve attracted reflects the atypical nature of the band. “It’s been very interesting,” Powell says. “People aren’t sure at first. The reaction we’ve been getting has been like, ‘Gee, I remember that one,’ or ‘I didn’t know that they had other songs.’ ”

Riff Raiders’ next hometown show will also offer something out of the box. American rock act Cheap Trick are being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, so Riff Raiders are hosting a Cheap Trick themed celebration. To coincide with the induction ceremony, they’ll hit up Cherry Bar to play Cheap Trick’s 1979 live album At Budokan in its entirety, plus extra songs like California Man and Southern Girls.

“They were getting acknowledged in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year, and for a band like Cheap Trick to get that type of recognition I think is fantastic, and they’re not a band that has many tribute nights. For us it was a bit of an extension to play in that style rather than the classic British hard rock I was just describing. So it’s a really good journey for us.

“And we’re playing on the same night as they’re getting inducted in the Hall of Fame. Well, as close as you can between Melbourne and New York anyway.”

Riff Raiders generally jam around with the songs they cover, but for the Cheap Trick show they’ll stick close to the original versions. “With this Trick stuff, we’re going pretty close to what’s on the record. Being that it was a live album, there’s probably too many drum solos and all that, so we’ve got rid of that and put a couple of different arrangements in, just to make it a bit more dynamic.”

They’ll actually perform two sets on the night, and the second set also fits the theme. “The second set will be other Hall of Fame bands that are already there. So your Kiss and Zeppelin and Sabbath et cetera.”

Powell feels comfortable playing the show at a renowned original band venue. In fact, Riff Raiders are one of the very few cover acts to be accepted by the original band scene.

“We’ve played there once before with The Lazy’s late last year and that went down well. The other good thing about us is that we’re more than tolerated and allowed to play with original bands. That’s what I always wanted for us was to either give them a go, or just be the fun part of the night. It’s just about getting people out seeing live music.”


RIFF RAIDERS Cheap Trick tribute goes down at Cherry Bar on Saturday April 9. The Cheap Trick set starts at 9pm sharp, Hall of Fame set is 10.30pm. - See more at: http://www.beat.com.au/category/tags/riff-raiders


BEAT MAGAZINE 30 March 2016 (Q & A)

Marty Powell, Riff Raiders Guitarist takes us through some Cheap Trick Riffs we need to hear.

Heaven Tonight
This is the title track from their third album, recorded at the Sound City Studios in LA in 1978 (and one of the reasons Nirvana wanted to record there). An amazing power riff crossing Abbey Road Beatles and the power of Kashmir Led Zeppelin, plus haunting vocals about the stupidity of drugs. This track also features the first ever recording of a 12 string bass.

Stiff Competition
Also from the Heaven Tonight LP. No cheap tricks here, just a balls to the wall rock n roll riff and performance that was out on its own at the time of recording. Angus Young was a big fan of this band, as Rick Neilsen was of AC/DC, and this track clearly demonstrates their bromance. 

Go for the Throat
This song is buried on the second side of the All Shook Up album (1980) produced by George Martin, and engineered by Geoff Emerick. The result is a manic display of riffing. Sir George obviously dug Trick’s hard rock and experimental approach, which comes through on this stunning recording.

One on One
Title track for the 1982 album produced by Queen’s Roy Thomas Baker. It’s the album that gave us Aussie No.1 If You Want My Love and this song, which smashes along with the band’s self-depreciating lyric ‘reputation is a fragile thing, and don’t I know it!’

Hot Love
First track on their debut LP recorded in 1976. This was a prototype of the new wave of rock that came later in that decade and basically ever since. But at the time the public simply thought - WTF?

RIFF RAIDERS' Cheap Trick tribute goes down at Cherry Bar on Saturday April 9. They'll be playing the AT BUDOKAN album is full from 9pm sharp


BEAT MAGAZINE 26 February 2016

After more than four decades of music and over 5,000 gigs, legendary rockers Cheap Trick will be inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To celebrate, Riff Raiders will play their classic album At Budokan in full.   After performing the album from start to finish, Riff Raiders will launch into a set filled with other Hall of Fame musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen and Kiss.    Recorded live in Tokyo in April 1978 and originally only for Japanese audiences, At Budokan launched Cheap Trick to the world, going triple platinum in the US alone.  It all goes down at Cherry Bar on Saturday April 9.


BEAT MAGAZINE 5 August 2015

The Rover (Led Zeppelin)
The Rover is a strong, constant blues (but not blues) riff with a progressive, phaser soaked chorus, anchored by a groove only Zeppelin could achieve – tight but loose. A particular favourite in our set and a song from their Physical Graffiti double LP, never performed live by Zeppelin in its entirety.
New Born (Muse)
Great riff-based songs sit well together in our set, selected from different eras. I think the opening track on the 2001 Muse album Origin of Symmetry defines this band and the potential they went on to achieve. I keep hearing, “I hate Muse but man I love that song.” Tall poppy anyone?
Emerald (Thin Lizzy)
Emerald is the final track of the breakthrough Thin Lizzy LP Jailbreak from 1976. Hard rock riffing with a Celtic rhythmic flavour – it doesn’t get much better for a band when you get to play songs like this one.
Hocus Pocus (Focus)
Impeccably played and recorded song from this Dutch band released in 1971. An amazing riff and soloing buried in one of the strangest non-vocal vocal lines ever recorded. This thing was a top 20 hit in its day. Ridiculous yet brilliant at the same time.
South Side of the Sky (Yes)
From their 1971 album Fragile, with their ultimate lineup crashing through with an enormous bass, guitar and organ riff after an intro consisting of howling wind and footsteps. Groovy man.



This Saturday night, Melbourne four-piece Riff Raiders will transform Yah Yahs into a hall of classic riff worship. The band’s repertoire unearths lesser-known tracks from a range of riff experts, including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Cheap Trick, plus recent riff proponents The White Stripes and Muse. Riff Raiders’ lead guitarist Marty Powell explains the motives behind this novel-natured tribute act.

"Hard rock can be generalised to not have a lot of dynamics and groove, but there’s actually a lot out there that is [dynamic],” he says. “So they’re the sort of songs we’re trying to capture. There’s a lot of good riff based music that’s been done that doesn’t always get played live, even by the bands themselves. Everyone knows the Thin Lizzy song The Boys Are Back In Town, but they’ve got heaps of other killer songs too that haven’t been overplayed. So we pull a few of those out.”
In a certain respect, good riffs are both a blessing and a curse. When you’ve got a strong, memorable riff, finding an equally effective vocal melody or chorus hook can be particularly difficult. The likes of Wolfmother or Audioslave come to mind as acts who’ve suffered in this regard. But a Riff Raiders gig puts the spotlight on bands who’ve employed riffs in the context of quality songwriting.
“I think [riffs] should come and go,” Powell says. “They can be the hook – exactly that. There’s famous bands that have absolutely got that right. A more recent example would definitely be Muse and probably The White Stripes.”
When it comes to the secrets of a great riff, there are no definitive answers. Riffs don’t have to be tricky to be effective. In fact, some of rock music’s most timeless killer riffs are rooted in simplicity (thinkYou Really Got Me or Roadhouse Blues). But on the other hand, a painfully difficult riff can also be stunning.
“You don’t always have to be a brilliant guitar player,” Powell agrees. “Someone like Jack White, he’s obviously exciting and when I hear him you just want to pick up a guitar and play. But then you have guys like Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore. They have a lot more technique, but they can pull it back and have really catchy simple riffs and then absolutely slam through major hammer-on guitar solos when they’re needed.”
While riffs have always figured prominently in rock music, the 1970s was the apex of riff-centric songwriting. Accordingly, the majority of the Riff Raiders setlist is focused on the ‘70s, but they do take a look at riff evolution through the eras.
“We do the Yardbirds and Pretty Things and an Australian band called Zoot,” Powell says. “They’re ‘60s riffs, which is a bit of a different approach. In the noughties, we’re looking around at bands like White Stripes, Muse and The Darkness. But once again, not the obvious songs.”
When you think of enduring riffs, not many from the last decade spring to mind. A band like The Darkness are a lot of fun, but their whole shtick relies on aping an earlier style. Thus the question looms, is there hope for the birth of brand new dazzling rock riffs?
“I think the more rock music you’ve absorbed, you do see it starting to eat itself,” Powell says. “Some people have said to me ‘Why aren’t you writing your own stuff?’ I thought, well it’s not a bad thing to look back and see this massive catalogue that’s there. People go and watch jazz bands and orchestras that haven’t written what they’re playing and people enjoy that. That’s the idea with this band.
“We’re getting quite good reactions,” he adds. “People saying ‘I didn’t know they had songs like that,’ and they go off and find it for themselves, which is really good. We do 90 minutes sometimes and people still ask for more.”