Interview: Rolo Tomassi

Mathcore heavyweights Rolo Tomassi this year celebrate their 10th anniversary by releasing their most ambitious LP and setting out on an extensive summer tour. The band first rose to prominence during the late noughties, with their unique mix of technical fretwork and aggressive female vocals. Kieran Harris caught up with vocalist/keyboardist James Spence to discuss their 10th anniversary, most recent album and upcoming tour.

Over the last few years you’ve become regulars at Tramlines, what would you say has been your favourite moment so far?

We’ve actually played at every year of the festival so far and even curated a stage outside the City Hall. I think my favourite year has to be 2012, we played that stage in front of so many people and I just remember there being a huge wall of death during one of our breakdowns.

You’ve played across a number of different venues across the festival, are you excited to be playing the City Hall for the first time?

Absolutely! Yeah we’ve played the Academy and Corporation over previous years, but it’s nice to have an opportunity to play something different. The City Hall is a venue we’ve been to a lot being from Sheffield, so it’s great to be able to get to play it.

Last year you guys premiered some “new stripped down material”, what do you have planned for your set this year?

We just recorded a new record and our set will be comprised of a lot of new songs from it; this is the first time that we will be playing some of the new stuff in Sheffield.

You announced earlier this year as main support for The Fall Of Troy’s UK tour, how have you been preparing?

Practise, practise, practise. We played the least amount of shows that we have ever played in our 10 years as a band last year, so we’ve been getting so much practise in to make sure that we’re super sharp.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Rolo Tomassi, what has been your proudest moment so far?

I’d have to say our most recent record Grievance – we’ve been wanting to write a record like that for a while now and we’re extremely proud of the result.

How were you able to get established initially with such a unique sound?

We just played loads of shows and put on shows ourselves when nobody else wanted to book us – we were able to build a steady reputation through word of mouth. Myspace was a big help in the early days, I think if you’re good at something you do and just stick at it that you’ll get there eventually.

Do you feel Sheffield was a strong starting point?

Absolutely! When we got started there were so many music venues within the city that we could play and we were close to other major music cities such as Manchester and Leeds.

When talking about your previous album Astraea you said “we talked a better game than we delivered”; would you say this isn’t the case with the new record?

100%, we’re very proud of the new material and really enjoy playing it live; it seems to tie in really well within our set list of older songs. The reception was also overwhelmingly positive, which we’re really happy about.

The album also marks the debut of new drummer Tom Pitts…

Yeah, Tom joined at the end of 2013 and he played his first show with us at Tramlines last year, so we can’t wait to perform and celebrate our first anniversary with him in the band.

So what can we expect next from Rolo Tomassi?

We’re playing festivals for the rest of the month then we’re off on a UK tour with The Fall Of Troy. We should also have some more UK headline shows for the end of the year and some international touring will likely follow. As for new material, we have some stuff left over for the last album, so that may possibly make it into a future release, but we want to keep writing new songs while we’re still producing our best material.

Catch Rolo Tomassi at 7pm at The City Hall on Saturday. For full details head to

Follow @tramlines and @ExposedMagSheff on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.

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