Rolo Tomassi are a British experimental rock band from Sheffield,
England. Their name is taken from dialogue in the film L.A.
Confidential. The band is known for their strong
DIY ethic, and
chaotic style and performances. They are currently signed to Holy Roar
(for UK and EU releases) and
Ipecac Recordings (for US and Japanese
The band released two albums on Hassle Records: Hysterics (2008) and
the Diplo-produced Cosmology (2010). After creating their own record
label Destination Moon in 2011 they released Eternal Youth, a
compilation album of B-sides, remixes and rarities from throughout
their career. They released their third album Astraea in 2012 with the
first line-up change in their career, and Grievances in 2015 with the
second line-up change.
1.1 Early years and the Mayday! label (2005-2008)
1.2 Hysterics and Cosmology (2008-2011)
1.3 Astraea (2012 – 2013)
1.4 Grievances and Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (2014 -
2.1 Musical style
2.3 Live performances
6 External links
Early years and the Mayday! label (2005-2008)
Shortly before the band formed, Eva Spence was in a small garage band
for a few months as a keyboardist. The band was looking for an
aggressive vocalist to help make it a six piece band but Eva stepped
up to give screaming a go. To practice she and her brother, James
Spence, would scream in their parents' car, with very loud music on;
the music was to help overcome their shyness. The two have
collaborated in bands since they were both 13 years old.
Rolo Tomassi formed in February 2005 in the town of Stocksbridge,
taking their name from a concept in the 1997 neo-noir film L.A.
Rolo Tomassi formed they sought to keep the band
DIY as possible; achieving this by hand-making their first releases
and organizing many
DIY shows. Eva Spence went from being the
keyboardist to the vocalist after they struggled to find a singer.
Not long after forming, the band had written some songs and
immediately began to perform at local venues/pubs to small crowds. At
this time they released some of their first material on to a 3 Track
Demo CD which they could sell at the shows in which they were
performing. The demo CD-R was released under James Spence's
(keyboardist/vocalist) independent label which he named "Mayday!".
There are eight releases under this label. After a split EP with
Mirror! Mirror! (limited to 333 copies and released through Speedowax)
the band signed to
Holy Roar Records and released a self-titled EP
featuring re-recorded songs from previous demos and EPs along with new
Hysterics and Cosmology (2008-2011)
Main article: Hysterics (
Rolo Tomassi album)
Main article: Cosmology (album)
In June 2008,
Rolo Tomassi were given a spot at Download Festival.
In September they released their debut album Hysterics. Supporting
this release the band opened for
Pulled Apart By Horses
Pulled Apart By Horses in Britain and
Jane's Addiction in the United States.
Rolo Tomassi started their "Subs Club" series. This was a
series of 7" vinyls singles released every three months with a cover
track and remixes and a 7" single,
Rolo Tomassi / Throats Split,
jointly release with the band Throats. In February and March of that
Rolo Tomassi supported
Fucked Up and The Bronx in the Shred Yr
Face 2 tour. Later in this year, they performed at South by
Southwest festival. This led to be an important performance in
their career as they were watched by American producer Thomas Pentz,
better known by his stage name Diplo, who mentioned them in a
Pitchfork Media interview, when asked to name "One Obscure Band
You Think Should Be More Popular". The band contacted him thinking
he might do a remix for them but he responded by offering to produce
their second album. The band wished to wrap their album's
completion around Diplo's schedule so they wrote the album in three
Rolo Tomassi performing at the Camdem Crawl in 2010. (From left to
right) Joe Nicholson, Eva Spence, Edward Dutton, James Spence and
Towards the end of October 2009, the band flew to
Los Angeles to
record their second album, in a studio which James considered
"unassuming, a well hidden and fantastic place". Artwork for their
second album was, like that for Hysterics, designed by Simon Moody.
Recording finished on 31 October and the album, titled Cosmology was
released in May 2010 was released. With a hope that Cosmology was a
clear and definite progression from Hysterics James Spence felt
had they corrected the short-comings of their first album. Because
it was not co-written by Diplo, like with his typical projects, he
helped add flourishes to the album. Diplo's influence on Eve
Spence's developed vocal range has been noted. Because their producer
had typically worked with female solo artists such as Bonde do Rolê,
M.I.A. and Santigold, he helped cross techniques from them over to
Eva. Particularly with demoing songs, where the band would
write a demo and give it to Eva to sing and interpret in her own room
The band played on the Ronnie James Dio Stage at Download Festival
and played on the NME/Radio 1 tent at Reading and Leeds in August
2010. James Spence commented on the Download show saying it was the
biggest show of their career to date. In the band's blog in June
2010 it was written that there might eventually be a Discography
styled release in the future which would l allows people to hear all
of the band's material released before the
Rolo Tomassi EP. On 7
August 2010 they played at the
Hevy Music Festival near Folkestone,
England. Throughout October and November 2010
Rolo Tomassi supported
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan on their UK tour. On 19 December 2010,
the band planned to conclude the year with a free show at the
Bloomsbury Ballroom in London, which was to be filmed as part of a
documentary and live recording release from the band. However, the
show was cancelled due to the ill health of Eva Spence, and so a new
UK Tour was announced for May.
With the setting up of their own record label Destination Moon records
Rolo Tomassi released Eternal Youth; an anthology of rare and
non-album material including acoustic versions, remixes of their own
work by various artists and a cover of Throats (band). This release
was accompanied by a short list of tour dates across the UK in May
2011, which were confirmed to be the only tour date
Rolo Tomassi would
do in 2011. On 8 July 2011,
Rolo Tomassi headlined the Red
Bull Bedroom Jam Stage at Sonisphere.
Rolo Tomassi expressed
interest in working with Anthony Gonzalez or
Kurt Ballou respectively
of M83 and Converge as producers for the third album. In July James
Spence said that the third album had not progressed far enough for
them to search for producers. He also stated that they, as of
July, they had at least two songs created, with a lyrical concept that
surfaces as focuses on self-reflection.
Astraea (2012 – 2013)
Main article: Astraea (album)
Rolo Tomassi playing 2000 Trees, 2012
In an interview with Kerrang!, Eva Spence confirmed that the band were
self-producing their third full-length with Hysterics producer Jason
Sanderson. Regarding the sound of the album, she said that it would be
"more direct and heavier", but also noted that the band would "never
shy away from being experimental". A May release date was initially
projected. In early February 2012
Rolo Tomassi announced the
release of a new single: "Old Mystics". The single was uploaded to the
band's Facebook profile to stream for free. Release of the single was
scheduled for 26 March. The band announced a few days after releasing
"Old Mystics" for streaming that it would probably not appear on the
new album, but just be a stand-alone single. Alongside the
announcement of "Old Mystics" the band also announced that they had
two brand new members following the departure of Joseph Thorpe and Joe
Nicholson. Their replacements were Chris Cayford, current vocalist and
former guitarist of No Coast, and Nathan Fairweather who plays in
Brontide. Eva Spence said in an interview that Joe Nicholson
wanted to pursue taking a chemistry degree at university, while Joe
Thorpe's departure was more to do with personal differences.
Rolo Tomassi completed their first tour of the year as the main
support for Architects on a 14 date tour. They also stated that
they were entering the studio to record their third album in June,
with an October release date expected. To support the album's
Rolo Tomassi projected an 11 date headline tour of the
United Kingdom in late October with Oathbreaker and Goodtime Boys.
On 16 August 2012, the band announced that their new album would be
titled Astraea, with the release date set to be 5 November.
In May 2013 the band did a short British tour with Bastions, the band
was noted for only costing five pound a ticket for all venues. On
Rolo Tomassi headlined the first year of
music festival Morbid Mash Up which featured over 20 other bands.
Rolo Tomassi performed on three out of the four dates of
the Japanese touring festival Reverberation Festival. In September
and October, starting just three days after their Japanese
Rolo Tomassi completed a 13 date tour of
Australian bands Totally Unicorn, Safe Hands and Stockades. It
marked the first time the band had been in the country since 2010.
Grievances and Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (2014 -
Main article: Grievances (
Rolo Tomassi album)
Throughout most of 2014 the band was dormant in writing new songs for
a fourth album to succeed Astraea. In mid September the band announced
a three date tour in the UK with Brontide, their album being released
next year and that they are releasing a split EP with Stockades.
The group's fourth full-length album, Grievances, was released on 1
June 2015 through Holy Roar, with an American release through
Ipecac. In June 2015 the band's cover for Deftones's Digital Bath
was released on Kerrang!'s Ultimate Rock Heroes compilation disc.
In 2017 they had a minimal tour schedule which features appearances at
Two Thousand Trees
Two Thousand Trees and Tech Fest festivals in the UK also teased
the unvealing of new material with a promotional website
lovewillburyit.com. On 5 November the band released the first
single from their new album "Rituals" on
BBC Radio 1, with a music
video accompanying it the next day. On 4 November Rolo Tomassi
performed one headline show in
London at the Borderline with support
from label mates Conjurer. Here they performed two new songs,
"Rituals" and "The Hollow Hour". In December Rolo Tomassi
performed their first concerts in the United States, supporting The
Number Twelve Looks Like You on their
Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear.
Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear. 12 year
Rolo Tomassi's fifth album Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It was
released on 2 March 2018 on
Holy Roar Records. It was recorded, like
Grievances, at The Ranch in Southampton. It will be accompanied by
a tour through UK and Europe through March and April.
Their music has been difficult to classify simply because of the
band's resistance to being identified with one single genre.
Described as "like a polished chrome
King Crimson for the 21st
Century" they have typically been acknowledged as being
mathcore, a tag which summarises the theoretical complexity
of their music, such as odd time signatures like 9/8 and 13/8 and
polyrhythmic drumming. They have been identified as "falling
somewhere between grindcore, progressive and alternative rock" and
have been categorised as experimental rock,
Nintendocore, post-metal, post-hardcore,
progressive hardcore, progressive rock and
screamo. The band utilises two vocalists in their music, a
quality which "immediately creates a rich and textured sonic
world". Eva Spence's vocal style was acknowledged by Michael
Wilson of the
BBC as bi-polar; swapping between "fragile lullabies to
blood-curdling scowls". Her singing voice is in a soprano vocal
range and has been compared to the stylings of
Alison Goldfrapp of
Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.
Their earlier work- such as Hysterics (
Rolo Tomassi album), Cosmology
(album) and their demos and extended plays- was known for its use of
jazz breakdowns and swapping chaotically between explosive mathcore,
calm atmospheric experimental music and acid-jazz.
Their music is also noted for sharing traits with
Nintendocore for the
use of 8-bit synthesizers and in terms of chaos and sound. The
compilation album Eternal Youth by the band gave insight into their
musical development since their inception in 2005 with their demos
onto their latest b-side releases with Hassle records.
Their style developed further into their pop, ambient, shoegaze and
space rock elements for their third album Astraea and has been
jokingly dubbed as cosmic-core. For one of the b-sides from the
album - "Mezmerizer" -
NME journalist Hamish MacBain classed it as a
"space rock ballad". For the album, the band decided to base its
name on the goddess of the same name, a reference to the Spence
siblings admiration for
Greek mythology and a desire to pick a title
which made the album "sound big and like this proper body of
work". The non-album single "Old Mystics" and the song from the
album "The Scales of Balance" both make reference to the "Golden Age"
declared by Astraea.
In contrast to the lighter tone developed on Astraea, their fourth
album Grievances frentic and dark in it composition- utilising pianos
and violins for a darker character. Their fifth album Time Will Die
And Love Will Bury It- described by James Spence- "Continues in the
vein of Grievances' darkness – but shouldn't be used to judge what
all our new material sounds like."
Rolo Tomassi's influences are said to range through screamo,
classical, jazz and progressive rock. Blood Brothers, Brian Eno,
Cardiacs, jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, Converge, the Dillinger
Escape Plan, King Crimson, the Locust and the
Mars Volta are all
considered influences on Rolo Tomassi's work. Rolo
Tomassi have noted how the Dillinger Escape Plan are a huge influence
on the band, with Edward Dutton in an interview saying that "they’re
one of the few stock bands that you can draw from one of the five of
us". The fractured structure of their songs are considered to be
heavily influenced by The Mars Volta. Ryan Bird of Rock Sound
cited At the Drive-In's album
Relationship of Command
Relationship of Command as an influence
on Rolo Tomassi's work, saying "opening the mainstream's mind toward
fiercely confrontational, independent rock, it was unthought-of that a
Rolo Tomassi could be successful pre-ROC [sic]." James
Spence wrote a guest blog on
Clash Music writing about his interest in
At The Drive-in, which began with seeing the video for "One Armed
Scissor": "I remember being captivated by the way they played and how
much the guitarist, Omar, was freaking out. Almost like he was
attacking his instrument. It resonated with me somewhat and I was
intrigued by it." He commented further on the album's influence,
noting "the odd sounds, the samples, the weird, almost undecipherable
The band's members have been called "insane hardcore acrobats" for
their energetic live performances. When James Spence commented on
Rolo Tomassi's live performances, he stated that he felt people who
didn't listen to them typically enjoyed their live performances and
that "We just want people to enjoy us however they want to."
Noisey writer Hannah Ewens notes how lead singer Eva Spence embodies
"a soft image in a hard environment" and notes that her movements
onstage "while thrashing and aggressive, are balletic and graceful in
When playing songs from their debut album Hysterics coming closer to
their second album's release, they played songs from it faster than
originally recorded as their musicianship had improved greatly.
Because of the membership change and the wish to play older music at
live performances, James Spence used guitar tablature and his own
knowledge of the songs written to teach newer members Chris Cayford
and Nathan Fairweather.
Eva Spence – vocals (2005–present)
James Spence – vocals, synthesizer (2005–present)
Chris Cayford – guitar (2012–present)
Nathan Fairweather – bass guitar (2012–present)
Tom Pitts – drums (2014–present)
Joseph Thorpe – bass guitar (2005–2011)
Joe Nicholson – guitar (2005–2011)
Edward Dutton – drums (2005–2013)
Rolo Tomassi discography
Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It (2018)
^ a b c d e f g h i Paul Klotschkow. "
Rolo Tomassi - Nottingham
Culture - LeftLion". LeftLion. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
^ a b Robin Murray (18 February 2015). "
Rolo Tomassi Toast 10th
Anniversary With New Album". Clash Music. Retrieved 21 November
^ a b Jon O'Brien. "
Rolo Tomassi AllMusic". AllMusic. Rovi.
Retrieved 14 May 2012.
^ a b "Interviews: Shred Yr Face 2: Eva Spence, Rolo Tomassi". Rock
Sound. (Freeway Press). 16 February 2009. Retrieved 27 August
^ a b c d Hannah Ewens (17 April 2015). "
Rolo Tomassi Have Been
Subverting the Conventions of Heavy Music for a Decade, Largely
Unnoticed". Noisey. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
^ "Rolo Tomassi: new bands are more exciting than KISS News". NME.
13 June 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
^ a b c d e f g h i j John Doran (21 April 2010). "In Extremis Diplo
And Behold: A
Rolo Tomassi Interview". The Quietus. Retrieved 9
September 2013. Only a great deal of hard graft can create an illusion
of effortlessness and their combination of Cardiacs, Locust, King
Crimson, Runhild Gammelsæter,
Mars Volta and
Brian Eno feels so
natural it’s almost as if the band are doing themselves a disservice
by not acting like spoilt, pretentious avant-rock beasts.
^ a b "
Rolo Tomassi Plan 7" Series". Rock Sound. (Freeway Press). 17
December 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
Diplo (13 February 2009). "Guest Lists: Diplo". Pitchfork Media.
Retrieved 10 September 2013.
^ a b c Slater, Luke (22 October 2009). "
Rolo Tomassi working with
Diplo for album two / Music News // Drowned In Sound". Drownedinsound.
Retrieved 12 December 2011.
^ a b c d "Download 2010:
Rolo Tomassi Play Biggest Show Ever". Rock
Sound. (Freeway Press). 12 June 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
^ a b Alex Ellis (2 November 2010). "Interview with Rolo Tomassi
(02/11/10)". South Sonic. Archived from the original on 27 August
2011. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
Rolo Tomassi Confirm Last Show Of 2010". The Fly. 9 November 2010.
Retrieved 28 April 2012.
^ Luke Slater (14 February 2011). "
Rolo Tomassi confirm Eternal Youth
release date and tour / Music News // Drowned In Sound". Drowned In
Sound. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
^ "FREE STUFF!!
Rolo Tomassi mp3 from forthcoming b-sides + rarities
album, Eternal Youth". Thrash Hits. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 28
^ a b "
Rolo Tomassi at Sonisphere: 'We'd love to make a record with
M83 or Converge'". NME. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 28 September
^ a b Nico Davidson (27 July 2011). "Interview: Rolo Tomassi
Sonisphere 2011". Sound Sphere Magazine. Archived from the original on
29 November 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
^ James McMahon, ed. (14 January 2012). "In the studio special - Rolo
Tomassi". Kerrang!. No. 1397. Bauer Media Group. p. 07.
^ a b "
Rolo Tomassi promise a 'hard-hitting' and 'more direct' third
album". NME. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
^ a b c "
Rolo Tomassi Unveil New Track Old Mystics', Announce New
Members". This Is Fake DIY. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February
^ "Architects and
Rolo Tomassi announce UK headline tour". NME. 9
January 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ Daniel Cliffe (22 April 2012). "
Rolo Tomassi - Nottingham Culture".
leftlion.co.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
Rolo Tomassi Confirm Autumn Tour Supports". This Is Fake DIY. 26
June 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
Rolo Tomassi detail release of 'Astraea'". Punktastic. 16 August
2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
Rolo Tomassi Announce May Tour; Post New Video Online". Rock Sound.
(Freeway Press). 8 March 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
^ a b c "Bridgwater's first ever Morbid Mash Up: prog-rockers Rolo
Tomassi to headline".
Bridgwater Mercury. (Newsquest Media). 13 August
2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
[The four cities expand reverberation artists gathered "reverberation
Festival" in September]. Natalie (in Japanese). (Natasha, Inc.). 1
June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
Rolo Tomassi Announce Australian Tour". themusic.com.au. (Street
Australia Pty). 13 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
Rolo Tomassi announce Australian tour". Kill Your Stereo. 12 June
2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
Rolo Tomassi Announce Small October Tour". Kerrang!. Bauer Media
Group. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
^ James Davenport (31 August 2017). "
Rolo Tomassi announce only UK
headline show of 2017". Punktastic.
^ a b Stephen Ackroyd (31 August 2017). "
Rolo Tomassi have announced
their only UK headline show of 2017". Upsetmagazine. Retrieved 7
^ a b Christian Eede (6 November 2017). "
Rolo Tomassi Announce New
Album". The Quietus. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
^ a b c d e Emma Garland (30 October 2017). "Rolo Tomassi's "Rituals"
Oozes with Release and Relief". Noisey. Retrieved 21 November
^ Remfry Dedman (7 November 2017). "Rolo Tomassi, The Borderline, gig
review: A savage and sublime display from one of the UK's most
singular bands". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
The Number Twelve Looks Like You
The Number Twelve Looks Like You Announce "Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear."
12th Anniversary Tour". The PRP. 27 September 2017. Retrieved 21
^ a b Phill Viles (21 April 2009). "This Is Nottingham:Rolo Tomassi
review in Nottingham". This Is Nottingham. Retrieved 12 June
^ a b c John Doran (5 November 2012). "Reviews
Rolo Tomassi Astraea".
The Quietus. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
^ a b "A
Rock Sound Guide To... Yorkshire Metal". Rock Sound.
No. 176. London: Freeway Press. August 2013.
^ a b c Petteri Pertola (5 February 2013). "
Rolo Tomassi - Astraea".
Rock Freaks. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
^ Martin Dalziel (6 May 2013). "Review:
Rolo Tomassi at Beat Generator
Live". The Courier. D. C. Thomson & Co. Archived from the original
on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
^ a b c Adam Bychawski (27 November 2012). "The Scales of Balance:
Rolo Tomassi". Clash Music. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
^ a b c Sean Reid (19 May 2010). "Alter The Press!:Album Review:Rolo
Tomassi - Cosmology". Alter The Press!. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
^ Gardner, Noel (2012). "
Rolo Tomassi Astraea Review". BBC. Retrieved
22 May 2017.
^ Darren Tayor, ed. (January 2013). "Top 50 Albums of the year". Rock
Sound. No. 169. London: Freeway Press. p. 19.
ISSN 1465-0185. Holding onto their tagged prog-core style, the
sheffielders have managed to weave their eclectic influences into a
more cohesive and flowing work here. It's everything we love then for,
^ a b Dean Brown (18 April 2012). "Architects +
Rolo Tomassi + Stray
From the Path: 6 April 2012 - Dublin, Ireland". Pop Matters. (Buzz
Media). Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ Ben Lawrence (19 July 2013). "The best ways to make the most of the
heatwave while it lasts". Gigwise. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
^ Pieter J Macmillan. "
Rolo Tomassi - Astraea / Releases / Releases //
Drowned In Sound". Drowned In Sound. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
^ Michael Wilson (10 April 2012). "Architects,
Rolo Tomassi -
Speakeasy, Belfast". BBC. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
^ Noel Gardner (31 October 2012). "Three albums in, the Sheffield
five-piece remain a remarkably singular band".
BBC Music. (BBC).
Retrieved 22 November 2012.
^ Camilla Pia (19 May 2010). "
BBC - Music - Review of
Rolo Tomassi -
BBC Music. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
Rolo Tomassi / New Album Reviews / Music News from THE FLY - The
UK's Most Popular Music Magazine". The Fly. (MAMA Group). 2 November
2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
^ Jamie Otsa (25 October 2012). "
Rolo Tomassi – Astraea [ALBUM]
Review". Ourzone Magazine. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
^ Hamish MacBain (7 February 2012). "
Rolo Tomassi - 'Old Mystics': A
face-melting firecracker". NME. (IPC Media). Retrieved 9 June
^ a b Barry Nicolson (31 October 2008). "
NME Live Reviews - Rolo
Tomassi". NME. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
^ Ryan Bird (11 October 2011). Darren Tayor, ed. "Hall Of Fame:
'Relationship Of Command' Spitting in the face of popularity, At The
Drive-In laid nu-metal to rest with this white hit hardcore classic".
Rock Sound. No. 153. pp. 48–49. ISSN 1465-0185.
^ a b James Spence (25 April 2013). "
Talk Relationship Of
Command". Clash Music. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
Media related to
Rolo Tomassi at Wikimedia Commons
Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
EPs & demos
3 Track Demo
4 Track Cassette
Rolo Tomassi / Mirror! Mirror! Split
Rolo Tomassi EP
Rolo Tomassi / Cutting Pink With Knives Split
Credit Card CD
Summer Tour 2007
Rolo Tomassi – Live @ Eurosonic EP
Rolo Tomassi / Cancer Bats – Split
Rolo Tomassi / Throats Split
End Hysterics EP
Remixo Tomassi Volume 1
I Love Turbulence