Everyone loves a hidden gem, right? James Spence (vocals / keyboards) introduces his top deep cuts from Rolo Tomassi’s back catalogue. If you’re familiar with all of these, congratulations – you must be their biggest fan (or James’s mum).
This track for me captures everything about the early energy of the band. It’s complete chaos with the changing of pace, the balance of punk and jazz and dual vocals at the start. The opening lyric is actually stolen from a line used in an episode of Peep Show! This was released as a one-sided 7″ single in between ‘Hysterics’ and ‘Cosmology’ I think. I remember spray painting the blank sides of the 7″ outside wherever Alex from Holy Roar was living at the time.
Everything Went Grey
We recorded this at my mum’s house on an old 8-track, separately to the studio session that was done for ‘Hysterics’. It was largely improvised, and there was a lot of experimentation on it. I remember that it was raining really heavily outside and we caught that atmosphere within the track. Joe wrote a keyboard line into Sibelius which he would use to notate a lot of what he wrote at the time and then reversed it. I played around with an analogue synthesiser over the top of it. I think there’s saxophone on it too, buried underneath a lot of layers. Again, I see this encapsulating a lot of the youthful fearlessness we had when it came to being creative with our approach to making music.
This song was a b-side to the single ‘Old Mystics’ which was the first music we put out following Chris and Nathan joining in 2011. For me, it represents the shift in what the band was and what we wanted it to become. Despite only ever being played live once and it not really working in that setting, it was heavily indicative of the direction I had wanted to push the band. I think a re-worked version would probably have sat really well on ‘Love Will Bury It’ and maybe at some point we could look to revisit it.
As we got towards the end of the writing of ‘Astraea’, this was the last song to be finished. I had been really stressed out as we were just about to start recording and I had a few ideas that hadn’t properly come together for the final, big song for the record. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and having a sort of eureka moment. I sat down on the floor with a few keyboards around me and pieced the song together as if it had come to me in a dream. We’ve recently started playing it again live, and I still love it.
With ‘Grievances’ I really wanted to push myself to write something that included strings. I’d been listening to a lot of Rachel’s and have always been a big fan of The Album Leaf, so I wanted to try and bring that influence into what we did with Rolo. Having never written for strings before, I put together a really basic arrangement and our friend Jon who had experience doing this helped me tighten it up. The strings players were two guys we’d never met, and they turned up to the studio with only the sheet music to go off and absolutely nailed it. For me, this was the most exciting day of the ‘Grievances’ studio sessions! It was wild seeing something come to life outside of what I was used to with Rolo recordings.
A Flood Of Light
My favourite track from ‘TWDALWBI’. I think it’s the absolute perfect balance of the songwriting partnership between Chris and I. As I remember, it actually came together really quickly as we were writing it. This track encapsulates everything that album is about musically. It has some of the grandest, most cinematic moments on any of our albums ever. We focused on making it sound absolutely massive in the studio. With that, there’s always a worry that might be difficult to replicate live but having recently debuted it on the headline tour we just did I think it translates and sounds even bigger!