“If you were a teenage mosher in the late noughties/the turn of the decade, then chances are Rolo Tomassi were your introduction to a lot of things. It didn’t take long for Rolo Tomassi to become UK underground favourites with debut ‘Hysterics’ and sophomore ‘Cosmology’ displaying some of the most diverse, limitless music with the band often switching up between knife-flicked mathcore, heavenly dream-pop, meditative post-rock and spaced-out prog effortlessly. The Sheffield five-piece are about to drop Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, their most broad work to date and we were lucky enough to chat with Keyboardist/vocalist James Spence about the record and their adventurous approach to music.
“‘We’ve been going for 13 years and to get anything out of it we just need to absolutely push ourselves…”
‘I’m really, really pleased with it’ Spence states about the record. ‘I think it’s by far the strongest material we have to date, I think it continues on from our previous record Grievances really naturally and builds on all my favourite bits about that record.’ Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It really just might be Rolo Tomassi’s finest album yet, or at the very least their most ambitious and adventurous. It has the most amount of long songs of any Rolo Tomassi album, all of which take you on rich journeys with rewarding payoffs. It maybe covers the most amount of genres of any Rolo Tomassi album, which is saying a lot for these guys; whether we’re talking about Towards Dawn delivering such blissful electronics, it could be a Four Tet song or Rituals being some of the hardest black metal you’ll hear this year, whilst still being distinctly Rolo Tomassi with wonky riffs.
‘We’ve been going for 13 years and to get anything out of it we just need to absolutely push ourselves and make music that we think is worth releasing and sit well in the legacy of records we have at this point.’
Upon being asked about the vast amount of styles Rolo Tomassi cover, Spence comments ‘It’s never something we intentionally set out to do, we don’t say ‘we should have a black metal section here or here we should have a droney, ambient part’ we’ve always written what’s come naturally. Within our ranks, everyone listens to a vast range of eclectic music. We’d only ever write how it came naturally, cause if it came out any other way it’d be conceited.’
Rolo Tomassi’s sense of adventure into tons of genres has always felt organic and goes hand-in-hand with the bare, raw emotion Rolo Tamassi have always delivered. There’s often anger and discontent perfectly brought through with angular riffs; vulnerability enhanced by nimble synths and delicate vocals and glimmers of hope and victory signalled by epic crescendos. ‘It’s always what we’ve used as a vehicle for that. It’s the best way of articulating emotions I can’t put into words. It’s therapeutic and there’s definitely a catharsis, like you can overcome things.’
” I’m not saying that Eva was the only woman in hardcore, but there really weren’t many women doing this in the UK at the time…”
As well as genre bending, another thing Rolo Tomassi would’ve been a lot of people’s introduction to at a certain time was a female figure in heavy music, with vocalist Eva Spence. Far-and-away one of the most talented voices in metal, being able to deliver the most piercing shrieks as well as the most serene, angelic cleans, that match the beauty anything in shoegaze or indie has to offer. Whilst she’s far from the first woman in aggressive music, if you got into heavy music through other bands that were rising at the same time as Rolo Tomassi, like Gallows, Bring Me The Horizon, Architects etc, Rolo Tomassi were around the corner to prove (if it needed proving to you) that women can do heavy music every bit as good as the boys.
James speaks very proudly of his sister as he looks back on when how Eva took on such a role when Rolo Tomassi were starting out. ‘I think it’s really really cool. I’m not saying that Eva was the only woman in hardcore, but there really weren’t many women doing this in the UK at the time. At the time as well, sexism was a lot more prevalent within hardcore. She had to put up with a lot of sh*t at our early shows, that’s how young she was and that she was a woman and she stuck with it, it’s definitely blazed a trail for other people.’
A trail has blazed indeed as there’s absolutely no shortage of women in heavy music now. As Spence says, at the time of Rolo Tomassi hitting the scene, it was a struggle to come across women in alternative bands, but now in 2018 if you’re just getting into punk, metal or hardcore you absolutely can’t avoid women with the likes of Code Orange, Employed To Serve, Oathbreaker, Marmozets, Petrol Girls, Kamikaze Girls, Venom Prison and many more. With the UK bands in particular, you can’t help but look back at the impact Rolo Tomassi made and believe it encouraged female-rock fans at the time to think ‘I can do this.’ James further states that Eva is ‘just really good at what she does, she’s a good vocalist full-stop and if that’s gonna encourage other ladies to get involved, then that’s a very positive thing.’
With the progressions in metal that have been made since Rolo Tomassi arrived, whether sonically or in terms of politics. It’s truly inspiring to see that a band that were so essential being just as vital as they ever were. Spence claims the key to their longevity is ‘A true passion for what you’re doing and finding the right people to do it with.’ Rolo Tomassi were one of the best heavy bands to discover then and if you’re just getting into this scene now, they’re still one of the best bands you can start off with. ‘I’ve seen so many bands from back in the day fall by the wayside, just because people reach a certain point in their life, where they want something else, or it’s not working for them. There’s just a true artistic hunger and desire to be creative for us and this band allows us to do that.’
WORDS: MAX CUSSONS
Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It is out 2nd March via Holy Roar Records.
The band also hit the road this year. Tour dates are as followed: