An Interview with Rolo Tomassi


Following the announcement of their newest album Astraea, The Edge got a chance to chat to James Spence, the synth man and vocalist for ‘mathcore’ rockers Rolo Tomassi, about the band’s changing line-up, how they are defined and their future,

You recently announced the release of your new album, what can you tell us about the record?

Well, a lot’s changed since the last record because we have two new members in tow. It’s a lot heavier and a lot more direct, but I’d like to think that we have maintained the experimental side of our sound. There’s a lot of variation between genres involved, but it has perhaps been dealt with in a more subtle way than before; there’s no massive leaps and nothing sounds out of place, it fits together. We’ve finished the recording now, and once the final mix is done it’ll be ready for release and I can’t wait.

Your music is frequently defined by a variation of ‘-core’ tags, i.e. Mathcore, Nintendocore. What do feel the relevance of these is?

I don’t really think they mean anything, it’s not like you can say that one band is exactly this while another one is exactly that. I tend to ignore them, if you’re going to describe a band it has to be more than ‘something and then ‘-core’ at the end’ you know?. It seems to be something that people do as a matter of convenience, we wouldn’t define ourselves with that sort of tag, I feel that it pigeonholes our sound greatly.

Has the change in your line up affected the way that the band works greatly?

Absolutely! I’d say that the main change has been the fact that we have been in different cities as everyone lives around the country. For all the writing we had to find small spaces of time where everyone was available, which actually really helped as it meant we had to write separately and we could see the different parts of songs gradually coming together, this is completely different to how we did it before. It was amazing to see how everyone’s contributions fitted together to make something we are proud of as a band.

Is the huge variety of genres within your music a conscientious acknowledgement of a huge variety of influences that you have as a band or do you just enjoy mixing things up?

It’s definitely a reflection of our influences! I tend not to actually listen to heavy music a lot when we’re recording because you need a break from it, you know? Before we started recording, I listened to loads of it to get me in the mood to record but while we’re actually making that sort of music it just gets too much. I started listening to a lot of electronic music and instrumental stuff, anything to inspire me and I guess this is where the variety comes from. The Mars Volta were a big influence, we listened to their new album a lot, it’s definitely a return to form.

Your lead singer described your music as ‘bi-polar’, does this make playing live exhausting?

No! its great to have the quiet bits, it gives you the respite you need; its impossible to continually play the heavy bits and it wouldn’t work without them.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at one of your shows?

I can’t think of anything particular, its always weird when you get kids who crowd-surf and get too keen and start getting touchy-feely with our lead singer, and some just come and stand on stage as well, whatever works for them! (laughs)

What would you say has been your best ever gig?

My favourite gig still is when we played Reading and Leeds festival and we were on the Nme/Radio 1 stage, I’d been going since I was 15 and it was like a dream come true. Playing at a festival is very very different to normal gigs. You feel like you have to win a lot of people over because at normal gigs, the people in the crowd are your fans, you have to keep festival crowds attention so they don’t wander off.

Are there any genres you would steer clear of?

Reggae, it’s shit. It’s the worst. There will never be any reggae influences in our music.

Talk to me about touring…

It’s great, I just love playing the shows, and with our newer shows there has been a renewed enthusiasm for everything because of the new lineup and revitalized attitude towards the band. From constant touring we have made friends all over the country and its great to get to visit them and party with them every time we play a gig in their area. In the UK we always have good shows in Glasgow, London, Leeds and Brighton, and Southampton obviously (laughs).

How would you sum up your new album in a sentence?

Wait…Nope. I just can’t do it. I’ll just say that it’s great, give it a listen! I hope we win over a lot of new fans and I can’t wait to start playing the new songs live!


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