Three-piece THE RIOT returns today with their strongest statement yet, a song that speaks to the trio’s vision and ability to find unity in a time of chaos.
Opening with an almost Moses Sumney-like choral part before ducking and weaving through rap and hardcore, ‘See it Believe it’ is an anthem for those who have never had one written for them, a siren call to those unseen by a failing system.
Written in the wake of George Floyd’s heinous murder and the subsequent protests that sprung up across the globe, ‘See it Believe it’ is not a ‘protest song’ in any traditional sense, it’s a song for those who have suffered under the hand of a cruel system.
It’s for people of colour who saw themselves and their oppression reflected in the news over the past year; it’s for LGBTQIA+ people, still persecuted around the globe; for impoverished and suffering workers, doing back-breaking labour for cents under the hands of tech companies; for women diminished by a society geared against them; for anyone who has ever looked up and felt the unseen hands of government and capitalism toying with their fate like the flip of a coin.
ABOUT THE RIOT
The scene in which THE RIOT formed is almost too perfect, too indicative of the music that would eventually come. It was 2016: JD, a Sydney transplant on the Gold Coast, was due to head home after a jaunt staying with a friend. Thinking he would go out to mark his final night in town, JD found himself at a venue like any other. Only, this being Surfers-adjacent – and little symbolising the excesses of capitalism like Surfers Paradise – he found himself knocked back because he didn’t fit the dress code.
JD’s denial would prove fateful: at the same time, Scotty and Tyler – also relative fish out of water, hailing from New Zealand – were looking for a way into the venue, themselves having been knocked back too. The three got to talking, and found that they shared a frustration with the status quo, a desire to provide voice to those oppressed by the system, and an acknowledgement that, despite the disparity between their upbringings and cultures, they felt a consciousness that linked them. Soon, they got to playing together, and found that their musical tastes fit, too: JD, a seasoned solo artist steeped in rap culture and influenced by the kinetic power of performing in a church choir as a child, meshed well with hip-hop and punk-loving Scotty and classic rock and emo indebted Tyler. As they started to become closer as a band, they realised that the venn diagram of their interests was a circle – JD loved the classics as much as Tyler loved Frank Ocean, and Scotty loved Dilla, and so on. THE RIOT, like any riot, was formed through a clash of cultures and a unity of vision.
THE RIOT couldn’t have taken any other name. The noun that hangs above the Gold Coast-based trio is one that implies simmering tension, followed by chaotic, profound release. It speaks to community, shared struggle, an anarchic form of altruism and an altruistic form of anarchy. In one word, it tells a story of the voiceless claiming a voice, the diminished reclaiming space after years of being ignored. It is a word that connotes fission and fusion – of cultures, textures, classes, ideologies. For the three men who make up THE RIOT, JD, Scotty, and Tyler , it is noun, verb, and guiding light. It is the only word that could possibly encompass all that this young but incendiary band represents: truth and power, rage and relief.