Interview: Rolo Tomassi [Sonisphere 2011]

Sheffield’s own Rolo Tomassi have always been about amalgamating genres to create some of the heaviest, and most brutal sounding hybrid music to ever come out of Yorkshire. Falling somewhere […]

Sheffield’s own Rolo Tomassi have always been about amalgamating genres to create some of the heaviest, and most brutal sounding hybrid music to ever come out of Yorkshire. Falling somewhere between grindcore, progressive and alt-rock, the fivesome are now tearing up stages around the world, all of the time. We chat to the band’s drummer Edward Dutton about the band’s plans for this year, and the art of touring.


“We know each other inside and out”


S] Has Sheffield ever inspired you?

E] “I’m not sure really. We’re from Sheffield originally, but we are not defined by that. There’s a lot of bands, especially in the Leeds [and] Sheffield area, that start up, and then just keep playing in the local pubs but we never did that. I’m not saying that’s a bad way to do things but we just ended up doing it differently.”

S] You’ve got some wicked support slots coming up with Glassjaw, how are you looking forward to that?

E] “A lot. We met Glassjaw last year, I think, in Australia, at the Soundwave Festival and they were cool guys, they’ve been really nice to us ever since, giving us little name drops in magazines.”

S] You’ve been doing a lot of touring of the UK and Europe. How are you finding that? Are you enjoying it or is it very tiring? Are there any highlights of it?

E] “It’s always very tiring, yeah but it’s also fun, just moving around to different places. To be honest, it’s almost as easy to get to France as it is to get to Scotland, so not too hard. We’ve been to Russia recently too which was a bit different. It was a great experience for the two weeks. Very tiring but it was worth it.”

S] Has there been any kind of mishaps on the tour? Anything that’s gone wrong which you’ve had to overcome?

E] “We’ve kind of got used to doing the mainland tours like in France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium where there are lots of people who speak English, so we can usually get around pretty well. However, recently in Europe, mainly in Russia, with the language barrier it was a bit more difficult to organise. It was so hard just getting messages across like, ‘can we have a bottle of whiskey tonight please?’ or ‘we’ll set up in ten minutes’. We ended up getting things we didn’t want.”

S] Have you got any new material in the works? And what’s the process of that?

E] “Slow and steady, we’ve been getting together and sorting some new bits out. We’ve got a new song or two, so we’ve still got a long way to go before we’ve got any sort of release out.”

S] Obviously Cosmology is about the universe and it’s meant to be a lot about self-reflection for the band, do you think that self-reflection might continue to the new record?

E] “Probably. It’s not something people normally look at or focus on; self-reflection as a theme, but if you ignore what’s happening to you and how it’s making you think about things then I don’t think that’s good.”

S] You guys started out at 16, so how do you look back and what have you learned?

E] “That’s a good question. I guess one thing I’ve learned is that you start off with your band, you do things for yourself and just push yourself as much as possible. I’ve kind of learned that the music industry doesn’t have to change you. We’ve worked with a lot of great people and we’ve met so many people over the years that have helped us out massively but we’re still on the same kind of level in ourselves that we were when we started out.”


S] And the other band members, do you feel like they’re family?

E] “Oh, definitely. Me and James [Spence, keys/vocals] have been best friends since we were five years old, I’ve known Eva [Spence, vocals] since she was four. So, there’s definitely a strong family unit there and the other two, yeah, we’re just like brothers. We live really close to each other and we’ve grown up together, went to school together and done everything together. We know each other inside out.”

S] What would you say the key to success is of amalgamating genres and mixing things up? And are there any other bands out there that you think are doing that well?

E] “It’s really difficult because I can think of literally loads of genres that shouldn’t even go together and you hear some bands trying to mix them and it sounds a bit wacky and a bit obnoxious. It kinda just doesn’t work out – I’m not going to give an example but we always try to do it tastefully. I don’t know if that’s the most adequate word for it. I think that’s the only way it works for us. We just compose as we go and see what happens. Mostly, genre doesn’t matter and we never think ‘let’s try make this sound punk’ and, ‘let’s make this sound death metal or electro’. We just find a part that we like and progress it into a something much louder. I think of it in terms of dynamics really as the drummer.”

S] A lot of people say you can’t get exposure in some places like Yorkshire and you have to be in London for exposure – what are your thoughts?

E] “I think there’s exposure everywhere but obviously you have the main venues down in London and obviously most of the journalists live in London. Basically, I’d say to play the right kind of shows in London is important without over-doing it. I don’t feel I can give the best advice on this! Maybe we just got lucky. We just kept playing shows and supporting good bands like Ghengis Tron [RIP] and stuff like that. We never thought ‘oh, let’s play extra shows in London’. We just toured everywhere. Ultimately, it’s all about work. If you’re seen to be doing hard work, then you get the exposure.”


For more information visit the official Rolo Tomassi website.



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