Rolo Tomassi have been thrilling audiences since forming back in 2005. Last year saw the release of debut album Hysterics on Hassle Records. Norwich Gigs caught up with Synth player James Spence before they played a packed UEA, supporting Gallows.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s a question we’ve been asked a lot, and we have kinda settled on progressive hardcore. The lowest common denominator of the band was always going to be hardcore, that was the style of music that made us want to form this band. It’s progressed from what hardcore is. Quite a few of us are into prog rock, it’s a term that a lot of people seem to shy away from, but we think it’s really cool.
What bands influenced you?
When we were standing out, there was a bunch of bands we all got into at the same time. Dillinger Escape Plan, The Great Redneck Hope, At The Drive-In. If it wasn’t for At The Drive-In I probably wouldn’t be in this band now. Over the last few years we’ve all gone off on our own little tangents. Joe our guitarist is very much into The Mars Volta, but that comes from loving At The Drive-In.
How do you feel about the album ‘Hysterics’ now it’s been out almost a year?
I’m still really really happy with it. At the time we made the best album we could have done. As a whole, I think it works really well. The only issue I’ve had with it, is that when we wrote it, we wrote it as an album, and we wanted it to flow and work really well. I’ve found that a few of the songs don’t translate well live, or as well live as I was hoping. There a few songs that are difficult to get into the set. We tried playing Fantasia on the album release tour, and it didn’t go down that well, and it’s quite taxing playing a fourteen minute song. So for the headline tour we’ve just done, we chopped and changed it, to making it more suited to playing live. It worked so much better for it. It’s good to change things live, cos it makes it more interesting for someone watching live, and makes it more interesting for us to play.
You’ve spent most of the last few years doing support tours, how do you find the reaction to you?
It’s been really awesome. At first people wouldn’t know what to do, kinda ‘what the fuck is this?’ But now more people know the songs, it’s really gratifying to see people getting into us, cos it shows that they get it. People being enthusiastic about our band, makes us more enthusiastic about the band. It was never our intention to sound the way we do, we didn’t mean to sound, without blowing our own trumpet, so unique. We can play with any band, we sound how we do, and they sound like they do, and if we can pick up some of their fans then that’s a bonus for us. The Blood Red Shoes tour was really strange; we had a lot of mutual friends with them, but were surprised when they asked us to support them. We just saw it as an interesting challenge, getting to play with someone who we sound nothing like, some people didn’t like us, some people did. We had a fun time touring with them, it was an interesting and exciting opportunity for us. Playing to someone elses crowd really tests us, and if we can play well in front of someone elses crowd we can play in front of anyone.
What’s next for Rolo Tomassi?
We are playing festivals in the UK and mainland Europe pretty much every weekend over the summer, but we are hoping to do the album in between all the festival dates and have it done by the end of summer. We have lots of different parts written for the next album, and just need to work on putting them together. It’s been almost a year since the last album, so we want to keep the ball rolling.