“There are much larger parameters in modern metal”


Rolo Tomassi spoke to NME on their evolution and journey to the new album “Where Myth Becomes Memory”, as well as its release at a time when metal music has “much larger parameters”.

The Sheffield-based post-hardcore band released their sixth album ‘Where Myth Becomes Memory’ yesterday (4 February). Singer Eva Korman and keyboardist James Spence spoke to NME why it’s deliberately more positive than anything they’ve done before.

Formed in 2005 by siblings Eva Korman and James Spence, the band have proven to be an acclaimed force in British metal – if one of the most underrated. From 2008’s debut album ‘Hysterics’ to Diplo-produced, Biffy Clyro-esque second album ‘Cosmology’ and the emotional weight of 2015’s ‘Grievances’ to 2018’s magnificent ‘Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It’, they have shown themselves to be constantly progressive. However, this time, Spence recounts NME that “album six is ​​where we hit our stride”.

The band was born around the same time as metal icons Bring Me The Horizon and Architects. While both of these bands have continued to sell out headlining arenas and festivals, Rolo Tomassi is proud to have chosen “a different path,” Spence said.

“Even when those bands were going up, we could play on the same bill as them, but we were a very different type of band,” he said. “I went to see BMTH at the O2 in September and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen – but if we wanted our band wouldn’t sound like it does.”

He admitted “there are different sacrifices that come from both,” but as Korman explained, “the balance we have between our personal lives and our professional lives has been a direct contributor to how long we’ve been around. “

Spence continued, “With each record, we want to play in front of more people and visit more places. With that in mind, we went into this record knowing it had to be the best thing we’ve done because otherwise why would we put it out?

“We set a standard for ourselves. Six albums in hand, you just want to maintain and then surpass your own standards. At this point, it’s only our own legacy that we’re going to tarnish if we release something that’s rushed or substandard.

Rolo Tomassi performing in 2018. Credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

“Where Myth Becomes Memory” builds on the success of its predecessor “Love Will Die…” but it’s not the same. The third chapter in an unintended trilogy that began with “Grievances,” the album was initially delayed as the band waited for the pandemic to subside so Korman could return from New Jersey to record with the rest of the band. However, in January 2021, they realized there was no light at the end of the tunnel, so they started working remotely. “There was no pressure from an impending tour schedule, so we could spend as much time as we wanted on the record,” Spence said with Korman describing it as “a luxury”.

“On the last two records, we’ve really found our identity,” Spence continued, with Korman pointing out that the chemistry between the band has never been stronger (guitarist Chris Cayford and bassist Nathan Fairweather both joined in 2012, drummer Al Pott in 2018).

“I can’t believe it took 17 years, but we’re much more comfortable in our skin now,” Spence said. “A lot of that was due to the successes we had on the last record. It got good reviews, which we certainly noticed, but the reaction of the people who came to the shows was really special. It did something to them. our other hardware just didn’t. It made us feel a lot more comfortable taking what would have been considered risks on previous records.

For example, Rolo Tomassi has always mixed clean vocals with guttural screams and piano interludes with fearsome breakdowns. They push those contrasts even further on “Where Myth Becomes Memory” to the point that a song like “Closer” sounds more like Coldplay than Glassjaw. “It’s nice to be able to push the dynamics of our sound and still have it cohesive on a Rolo Tomassi album,” Korman said.

Spence continued, “It’s more about mood and tone than genre. We’ve never labeled ourselves as a genre group, which means we can release a single like ‘Closer’ and another like ‘Drip’ and nobody really bats an eyelid. We have created this space for ourselves where we can do whatever we want and it never feels artificial.

Lyrically, “Where Myth Becomes Memory” is a positive step forward for the band. In 2020, Rolo Tomassi left his label Holy Roar after its founder Alex Fitzpatrick was accused of rape and sexual abuse. Fitzpatrick denied those claims, but Tomassi issued a statement saying “We have zero tolerance for abusive behavior and stand in solidarity with those who have come forward.”

By the time work began on “Where Myth Becomes Memory,” the band hadn’t played a gig together in nearly two years and weren’t sure when the next opportunity would arise. Add to that a global pandemic and political unrest on both sides of the Atlantic and Rolo Tomassi decided they needed to make a more optimistic balance sheet for their own mental well-being.

“‘Grievances’ was a very dark record, and then ‘Time Will Die…’ made me think about that, trying to let go,” Korman said. “Writing the lyrics for these records was really hard for me and I really didn’t want to see that headspace again. I didn’t want to get lost in the dark.

“With this album, I wanted to be more exploratory. The themes are renewal, rebirth and new beginnings.

Korman doesn’t think it’s a COVID record as such, but writing it during isolation “definitely made me think about things differently. There’s definitely still darkness on this record, but it was exploited rather than overwhelming,” she continued, adding, “The lyrics ended up being more present. It’s a lot more positive than the previous two records, which were definitely more forward looking.”

Rolo Tomassi
Eva Spence of Rolo Tomassi performs in concert at Razzmatazz 2 during Route Resurrection on January 18, 2018 in Barcelona (Photo: Xavi Torrent/Redferns)

Spence described the act of making the record as “pure escapism”, but admitted he “didn’t want it to be just a distraction”. “There’s definitely enough in it to have emotional significance on people and for them to get something out of it,” he said, Korman adding that “people can get whatever they need out of it – and it really is a beautiful thing.”

The band also released “Where Myth Becomes Memory” in a world that was more accepting of progressive and heavy music thanks to Oathbreaker, Deafheaven, Spiritbox, Code Orange and Loathe.

“It feels like there are much larger parameters in modern metal,” Spence said. “You had to exist within these very small confines to be part of the scenes that existed when we were younger, but now the lid has been blown. There are so many bands doing amazing things right now, which doesn’t is only positive for us.

Still, the band disagree on being underrated. “To me to say that we’re overlooked or underappreciated suggests that I think we deserve more than we have,” Spence explained. “We can go around the world and people come to the shows. We can release records and people buy them. What an absolute privilege to hold a position. I think we are very appreciated by the people who listen to us and we are very grateful for that.

“Where Myth Becomes Memory” by Rolo Tomassi is now available. The band will set off on a previously announced UK and European tour later this month.


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