Rolo Tomassi refuse to betray their creative legacy

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It’s been just over a year since Rolo Tomassi released their sixth album, Where Myth Becomes Memory. Since then, they announced a European tour, cancelled half of the tour, hit the road in the UK, and emerged into 2023 with a newfound focus to continue building on their craft. Speaking exclusively to, guitarist Chris Cayford and vocalist/keyboardist James Spence are still just as excited about the band’s newest album as they were a year ago. 

Chris, in particular, still loves how Where Myth Becomes Memory feels like it has a narrative. Like a movie soundtrack, almost. “The songs are more closely knit than [our] other records,” he admitted. “When I go back to listen to other records it sounds more discombobulated.”

Finding these new angles within their music is only made possible when Rolo Tomassi hit the road – something they almost failed to do last year when COVID restrictions “didn’t line up”, forcing them to cut dates from their European tour. “We had to make a very late and difficult decision to cancel the European shows,” James sighed. “And we added four UK shows to that tour.”

They’re making up for it this month, though. They hit the road earlier this month, combing through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and beyond. Their final show is taking place in the enormous Electric Ballroom in London on February 15. You can get tickets to that here.

Considering Rolo Tomassi all hail from different ends of the Earth – and factoring in that the band is not the members’ full-time jobs – it’s a pretty intense tour to set off on. Didn’t they want to include any breaks on their journey? James laughed: “If you’re not playing you’re still paying! We need to be out and making it count. It’s just what we’re used to.” Shorter tours, James added, don’t allow the crew to get into a real “rhythm” with their set and flow. Before ending the topic with a definitive: “We’ve just got to crack on.”

As a British band, with some members permanently living in London, it makes sense for them to finish off their tour in the Big Smoke. Some might think that puts on some extra pressure, however. Audiences in the capital can be infamously fickle, but Chris confessed it isn’t the band’s fans they worry about in London. “I find it stressful for different reasons,” he admitted. “Not because I think the audience has a higher threshold for what’s good or not, it’s more of a stressful day! We have a lot more things to do. It’s always a big one with press and we know it’s going to be the most reviewed [show of the tour]. It’s a myriad of all things.”

Get tickets to Rolo Tomassi’s London gig here.

James agreed: “There’s certain cities we’ve played that the audience thinks they’re cool enough to judge you, and I don’t necessarily feel that pressure in London.” Instead, he revealed, it spurs on the band to create a bigger, better show. “I think it raises our expectations of what it should be like. And it’s the pressure of wanting to put on the best show we can.”

Rolo are certainly pulling out all the stops for the entire tour, though; not just their London show. James and Chris told me this tour has an incredible amount of attention to detail. Their set design and production are bigger and better than ever, and they describe it as something that will “look really special”. “For anyone who has never seen us before,” James grinned. “They will think we’re way more professional than we actually are.”

Still, for Rolo Tomassi, being under the spotlight doesn’t mean they feel as if they ought to pander towards the latest trends or what might them more commercially successful. As a band that has been working steadily for just under 20 years, they could – probably – easily switch things up and aim for a more mainstream audience at any moment. We as music fans see it happen often; Paramore has evolved and are selling out arenas; Bad Omens tapped into the TikTok market; and You Me At Six are writing about being 90s kids. But for James, Chris, and the rest of the band, they are stubbornly maintaining their own trajectory.

“It’s all about identity,” James explained. “If we were to change our identity it would be incredibly disingenuous and go against 18 years of work. And come across really transparently false! I think that anyone who has been listening to our band for years would be like: ‘What the hell?'”

Chris chimed in: “None of us have to do this band. It is not our source of income. I think, to step away and try to be a bit more calculated … would take away the reasons we do this band in the first place. The reason we do it is because we want to get together and write music together that we enjoy.”

James added that writing for Rolo Tomassi means they have to fully believe in their music. Anything other than that would be “a complete betrayal of everything they’ve ever enjoyed”.

“If the game was to write a big pop record we would have done it 15 years ago,” James conceded. He noted that he didn’t like using the word “legacy” while talking about his own band, but nevertheless felt the journey of Rolo Tomassi’s creativity deserved some recognition. “I do feel we have this back-catalogue and creative legacy and I just wouldn’t want to dump on that.”

Get tickets to Rolo Tomassi’s London gig here.

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