‘We’ve had a pitchfork attack, a knife attack… and what else this week?’ An interview with Rolo Tomassi (16/05/2013)

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With several months of touring behind them since the release of their latest LP ‘Astraea’, we caught up with Rolo Tomassi ahead of their Southampton show to discuss influences, the future and drunken experiences.

You’re well into your tour now. How is it going so far?

James: Good. This is the last day. We’ve had a really, really nice week. All the shows have been great. We’ve been treated really well, the crowds have all been cool and we’ve had fun, which is the crooks of it.

It’s been a while now since the release ‘Astraea’, so how have you felt about reception over the past couple of months?

Nathan: Really good. Noticeably better than last tour, as we were saying earlier.
James: Yeah. The record came out six months ago now so playing the songs live people have had a period of time to digest it, whereas on the last tour we were playing the songs before the record had come out… It’s cool seeing people singing along to it and knowing what we’re playing a little bit more which helps us get a little bit more out of it, I think.

Rolo Tomassi are renowned for drawing upon a wide range of influences so what bands/artists mostly influenced the creation of ‘Astraea’?

Edward: That’s really difficult!
James: I mean from my involvement in the keyboards especially, there have been a bunch of mainstay artists that have influenced what I’ve tried to do with it. People like M83… this Italian band called Goblin who soundtrack a lot of Horror films… so quite progressive synth-based music.

Obviously you’ve had a lineup change with Nathan and Chris so in what ways did that change the way you’ve all worked as a band?

Nathan: Was it about a year ago since that now?
James: A year and a half!
Nathan: A year and a half? Yeah. Time flies doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun!
James: I can’t really remember life before it now! It seems so natural and… just the way it should be. I think we’re a much tighter unit. Everyone pitches in a lot more and does more to make sure the band is run well. We all get on very, very well on a personal level as well which just helps immensely when you have to spend periods of time in very confined spaces. Everyone knows when other people want to have fun and everyone knows when to back off and leave people and give them space which is really important when you’re touring. It has just been the smoothest transition we could have ever imagined. Nathan and Chris were the first two people we approached to do it and I really can’t remember how it was before because of how natural and right this feels now.

You’ve got support from Bastions as well. How did that relationship come about?

James: We’ve been aware of them for a while. We’ve done stuff with labels we’ve worked with in the past like Holy Roar and they were within a crop of UK bands that we were aware of just by being music fans, I guess. We were trying to think of a band that would work and they were just a name that got brought up. We’d not played any shows with them previously to this. We know Zach, their bassist… he used to play in Crocus who we did some shows with. So yeah, we just asked them to come along and join us and they’ve been amazing. They’re an exceptional band and they’re fantastic company so it’s been a pleasure having them along for it.

Rolo Tomassi are no strangers to touring. What helps to keep you entertained when you’re on the road?

Eva: Nathan!
Nathan: A bit of skipping!
James: We like to play and watch football… and make fun of our friends!
Eva: We get a lot of jokes in the van. We do pretty good DJ sets in the van with playlists and stuff. When we can all sing along… that keeps us entertained.

And when you’re on tour, who would you say was the worst drunk out of everybody?

Nathan: Oooh, hard to say. Good question!
James: Good call!
Eva: I’d say you’re the worst and the best [pointing at Nathan]. You’re the most entertaining but you’re also the biggest handful.
Nathan: Chris and [our friend]Josh… when they both drink together they combine for one horrible person that nobody likes.
James: We have a handful of people that tour with us quite frequently and Josh is one of them. Him and Chris bring out the worst in each other. We’ve had a pitchfork attack, a knife attack… and what else this week? [laughs]

Apart from Sheffield (and obviously Southampton), where is your favourite place to play in the UK and why?

James: London is usually great. On this tour we’ve played to more people in London than we did anywhere else… Leeds was great. The North is good.
Eva: I like Manchester. Bristol is usually good and Brighton is a lot of fun.
James: We’re quite lucky that we have a handful of cities that we really enjoy playing to and get really good crowds in so…
Eva: Glasgow was good.
James: Glasgow was good, yeah. And Aberdeen was really surprising.

And finally, what next? Following this tour, what’s going to happen with Rolo Tomassi?

James: More touring. We’ve got a handful of festivals coming up. We’re doing some European touring over the summer as well. We’re going slightly further afield later in the year. That’s not 100% confirmed so we can’t announce it yet but we’ve got another four tours following this and then tonnes of festivals. Then we’re going to be writing new material, which we haven’t really stopped doing since ‘Astraea’ because we had so many ideas left. We’ve just kept it going and we’re going to go home from this and start focusing and actually getting some songs written out of the ideas that we have left so that we have one eye on getting album four out for next year.

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