After what seemed to us outsiders as a giant attempted leap at the mainstream with their second, Diplo-produced, LP, Cosmology, Rolo Tomassi returned last month with their third record, the often-fantastic Astraea. You would probably be forgiven for expecting the band to head even further into the settled and measured side of things, like they did on Cosomolgy’s title track, but Astraea, while certainly more varied and complex than their previous offerings, still rocks fucking hard.
With a couple of members gone and replaced, the album out for all to see, and decent amount of dates completed around the UK, we caught up with James Spence to have a small chat about how it’s all gone thus far…
Welcome back, what have you been doing with yourselves since the last record?
Hello. We have two new members. Chris and Nathan have joined playing guitar and bass respectively. We wrote and recorded a new album together which is called Astraea. That came out on November 5th and we just finished a full UK and mainland European tour for it.
What can you tell us about the new album? How does it compare to the first two do you think?
It’s my favourite release out of everything we’ve done. I think it’s the most complete and coherent collection of songs we’ve written and the production, down to the magnificent Jason Sanderson, is bigger and better than anything we’ve done before.
How did the recording process go? Did you follow the same blueprint as your previous work?
It was slightly different to previous recording experiences. We spent a lot of time working on the smaller details which we haven’t been able to do before mainly to time constraints. We worked in several different locations where previously we’d only ever been in one studio. It took longer than initially anticipated but we’re all very happy with the final product.
You’ve previously shown a different side to your sound in small doses, such as the closing track on the last record; do you feel there is more or less of that on the new record?
I think we’ve shown more differences on this record, especially to the more melodic side to what we do. Eva’s singing is more prominent and the bigger, more expansive elements to what we do have more space on this record.
Were there any specific influences on Astraea; either musically or otherwise?
The influence of our new members Chris and Nathan was crucially important on Astraea. We wouldn’t have been able to make this album without them.
Where does the album title come from?
Astraea is a Greek Goddess. It tied in nicely with a lot of lyrics, song titles and idea’s we had. I like the way it sounds too.
Have you enjoyed touring the new record?
So far, yes. It’s nice having a new selection of songs to play live. We still have a long way to go in terms of touring it and hope to reach a lot of new places.
How did the album release show go?
It was great fun. It was cool to have the opportunity to present the album in full to people.
The UK heavy/HC scene seems to be flourishing at the moment, would you agree with that? Anyone you recommend we check out?
I don’t feel like I can really comment on it properly. I didn’t really listen to much heavy music or go to any shows when we were recording which was basically for 3 months. We just toured with Goodtime Boys who are absolutely fucking killer though.
What’s the plan for the remainder of the year?
We have one final show in Sheffield on December 10th. Otherwise we’re enjoying a little bit of downtime. I’m going to start on some new songs soon when I’ve caught up on my sleep sufficiently…
Words and interview by Tom Johnson