Finding a cellist in a rock band is unusual. Sure, there is the group Apocalyptica, which is a cello quartet that plays covers of metal bands. And in the '70s a band called Electric Light Orchestra utilized cellos in its recordings and stage shows, and Loreena McKennitt has a cellist.

But a cello in a rock band is still pretty rare.

Alexandra Lawn is one of those rare types. She plays the cello in Ra Ra Riot.

"I went to a Montessori school and they handed out instruments," said Lawn during a phone call from near Toledo, Ohio. "I liked it."

From the get-go, Lawn studied various classical composers, her favorites being Dvorak, Debussy and Shostakovich.

"But I do have my pop-music influences," she said. "Fleetwood Mac, Feist and Paul Simon come to mind."

Ra Ra Riot came together in 2006. Guitarist Milo Bonaccci was about to graduate from New York's Syracuse University and wanted to go out with a band, Lawn said.

"The band was like a last hurrah for us," she said. "We all were connected through music. Each of us had performed with each other at one point during our school days. And we thought it would be cool to play some shows around the college."

Bonacci recruited Lawn, keyboardist Wesley Miles, bassist Matheiu Santos, violinist Rebecca Zeller and drummer John Pike. They played New York's CMJ Music Marathon and opened for Bow Wow Wow, Tokyo Police Club and the Editors.

Things were going well for the band until June 1, 2007. After a show in Massachusetts, Pike disappeared. A few days later, his body was found in Buzzard's Bay.

"That was a heavy blow to all of us in the band," Lawn said. "It was very hard and surreal.

"But we also wanted his funeral to be more of a celebration. And we knew we had to carry on as a band to preserve our memories of John."

Drummer Cameron Wisch joined the band shortly before it signed to V2 Records that winter. After releasing a single "Dying Is Fine" and a self-titled extended play, the band wrapped up a recording of its debut full-length CD.

"We have a title for the new album, but I'm not at liberty to say it, yet," said Lawn with giggle. "The process was great. The producer (Ryan Hadlock) we worked with knew exactly what we needed to help our sound fill out."

If you go ...

What: Ra Ra Riot, the Little Ones

Where: Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

How much: $10

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: scott@desnews.com