ROLO TOMASSI are a British experimental rock band from
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
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 History
* 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 (2014 - present)
* 2 Characteristics
* 2.1 Musical style
* 2.2 Influence
* 2.3 Live performances
* 3 Members
* 3.1 Timeline
* 4 Discography
* 5 References
* 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 2005 in the town of
Stocksbridge , taking
their name from a concept in the 1997 neo-noir film L.A. Confidential
Rolo Tomassi formed they sought to keep the band as
possible; achieving this by hand-making their first releases and
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
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 songs.
HYSTERICS AND COSMOLOGY (2008-2011)
Hysterics (Rolo Tomassi album)
Hysterics (Rolo Tomassi album) Main article: Cosmology
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 in Britain and
for 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 months. Rolo
Tomassi performing at the Camdem Crawl in 2010. (From left to right)
Joe Nicholson, Eva Spence, Edward Dutton, James Spence and Joseph
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 for hours.
The band played on the Ronnie James Dio Stage at
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
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 on their UK tour. On 19 December 2010, the band
planned to conclude the year with a free show at the Bloomsbury
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
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)
Rolo Tomassi playing 2000 Trees,
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 October release
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 31
Rolo Tomassi headlined the first year of
Bridgwater based music
festival Morbid Mash Up which featured over 20 other bands. In
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 performances
Rolo Tomassi completed a 13 date tour of
Australia with Australian
Totally Unicorn , Safe Hands and Stockades. It marked the first
time the band had been in the country since 2010.
GRIEVANCES (2014 - PRESENT)
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 June
1st through Holy Roar, with an American release through Ipecac .
In June 2015 the band's cover for
Digital Bath was
released on Kerrang!'s Ultimate Rock Heroes compilation disc.
In 2017 they had a minimal tour schedule which features appearances
Two Thousand Trees and Tech Fest festivals in the UK, with one
headline show in
London at the Borderline on the 4th November with
support from label mates Conjurer. They have also teased the unvealing
of new material with a promotional website lovewillburyit.com.
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
Alison Goldfrapp of
Elizabeth Fraser of the
Cocteau Twins .
Their earlier work's primary elements are their 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
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.
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
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 band
Rolo Tomassi could be successful pre-ROC ." 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 lyrics."
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 her movements onsage as "while
thrashing and aggressive, are balletic and graceful in their anger".
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 Studio albums
* Hysterics (2008)
* Cosmology (2010)
* Astraea (2012)
* Grievances (2015)
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flowing work here. It's everything we love then for, done better.
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Media related to
Rolo Tomassi at Wikimedia Commons
* Official MySpace