INTERVIEW: Rolo Tomassi (UK), December 2010

I discovered this band by pure chance at a Soundwave some years ago and I’ve dug them ever since. A consistently weird and generally wonderful band that exist on the outside of every genre they blend into their music – and that’s just fine by them. I’ve met the Spence siblings from the band several times, including at their Australian tour last year. They’re incredibly polite and charming folk. That’s all I have to say on the matter, really. 

– DJY, October 2014

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There was plenty to see and do at this year’s Soundwave festival, but for those who managed to sneak in early, one new band was the talk of the early hours of the festivities. That band was arty British post-hardcore kids Rolo Tomassi, with a deceptively attractive frontwoman in Eva Spence who went on to screech and howl like some kind of rabid dog; as well as having at least half of the members leaping off the stage to crowdsurf at one point or another. Love them or hate them, they certainly generated a reputation, turning many perfect strangers into huge fans.

“For us, it’s the most important thing in the world to do good live shows,” says Eva’s brother James Spence, the band’s keyboardist and co-lead vocalist. “We started the band to play shows more than anything, and we strive to be as good as we can be – tight, as energetic and as aggressive and imposing as we can be without wanting to alienate anyone. We just want to be fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”

Working up from D.I.Y. shows and home-made cassette demos, the band evolved from a project between the Spence siblings to expand into the quintet that it is today. The band have two albums under their belt – the latest of which, Cosmology, was released in May of this year, produced by former M.I.A. and Santigold collaborator Diplo. In spite of Cosmology arguably being the band’s most technical and intrinsic work to date, the band were fully confident in their abilities to translate this to the live environment.

“It’s easier for it to be difficult to play than to worry it won’t sound good live,” Spence says. “Essentially, if something’s difficult, we can always practice it for ourselves. I think that’s the main difference between the first and the second record – there were some songs on the first record that we had to modify to play live, and none of us were really happy with that. We wanted to take what we’d done on the record and play that live and make a bigger energy, rather than change the songs. I think the difficult songs on the new album, we’ve mastered and can be realised in their full potential when we play them now.”

Ahead of its release, fans in Australia were amongst the first to hear cuts from Cosmology road tested properly. Despite only being here for just over a week, Spence still has incredibly fond memories of what was the band’s first ever Australian tour – even going so far as to describe it as a “headfuck.” His voice picks up and the tone of excitement is too outstanding to ignore.

“Flying that far from home across the world to play gigs with our band is just a very, very strange feeling,” he says. “I don’t think any of us ever expected or assumed that we would ever get the opportunity to do something like that, so a lot of the time we were just walking around wide-eyed – we weren’t really sure how to behave or what to do. After getting over the jetlag, we really made the most of the trip, and really explored the place. We could have really been taken aback, but we decided to make the most of it while we were there.”

The tour also saw the band paired up in some Sidewave action with what FasterLouder deemed one of the strangest support acts of all time – Rolo were the opening act for Jane’s Addiction’s headlining shows. “You’re kidding!” says Spence with a laugh when informed of the band making the list. “That’s amazing. I’ll be honest – I couldn’t identify a Jane’s Addiction song if you played it to me. But the name is just one that sticks out – I mean, I knew what Dave Navarro looked like, and I knew who Perry Farrell was – but I wasn’t really familiar with their music; though I knew it was an odd pairing. I consider them the last of the real rock-stars, and we’re a very humble band with really strong D.I.Y. roots – so to see the complete opposite end of the spectrum was something else. They were great shows, though – the crowds were really responsive and cool.”

After working through a tonne of festival dates, as well as coming off tour with a much more fitting support slot – opening for the band’s heroes, The Dillinger Escape Plan – the time is nigh for Rolo Tomassi to make their return to Australian shores as a part of a quadruple bill with other acts from this year’s Soundwave – This Is Hell, Comeback Kid and headliners Architects. The enthusiasm kicks up a notch once more as Spence gears up for his band’s imminent return to our “fair country,” as he puts it.

“Us, Architects and Comeback Kid were all on the same stage,” he recalls. “The drummer from This Is Hell is from England, too, so we got to meet those guys. I’m a fan of that band, so I ended up watching them anyway. It’s gonna be great to catch up with everyone – we all hung out a fair bit on that tour, and we all played some of the same festival dates in Europe, as well. It’s gonna be really nice – there’s gonna be that sense of friendship amongst all the bands, so it won’t be awkward the first few days.”

INTERVIEW: Scary Kids Scaring Kids (USA), November 2008

I don’t remember too much about this one. Hell, you probably don’t even remember there WAS a band called Scary Kids Scaring Kids. They were in that whole mid-2000s wave of post-hardcore. That was a time, wasn’t it. Hell, the guy I interviewed from the band was their KEYBOARDIST. Remember when keyboards were still a thing in post-hardcore? It was like how every nu-metal band in the late 90s and early 2000s got themselves a DJ, only to find they contributed nothing – they either learned how to play keys or they fucked off. Anyway, nothing too brilliant about this interview – or this band, for that matter, although they did have a couple of decent tunes. Just throwing this up here for completion’s sake. Mawsh.

– DJY, July 2013

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Scary Kids Scaring Kids don’t exactly seem like the happiest of dudes – especially given their musical subject matter is frequented by despair, abandoned hope and the evil that women (and, occasionally, men) do. Thankfully, this kind of pained imagery belies them – today, at least. Keyboardist Pouyan Afkary is in high spirits as we begin our conversation.

“Feeling really good, man!” he enthuses. “Just got off the road with Anberlin and now we’re on our way down to Australia. Really looking forward to it!” You can understand why. The band are hitting our shores as headliners of the Versus tour, alongside those good Christian boys Haste the Day and Californian pop-rockers Halifax. Afkary definitely sounds excited to be on tour with two bands he is close with.

“We’ve known both bands for many, many years,” he comments. “It’s gonna be a pretty wild tour. Haste the Day are more like our bigger brothers who guide us in the right direction and have a very positive influence on us. Halifax, on the other hand, are the band that really bring out the party in us.” Which side of the line SKSK themselves will fall is anyone’s guess; even for Pouyan himself. “It’s like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other,” he laughs.

The tour is not only the band’s second visit to our shores, but also their second visit this year. The band rocked the mainstage of the Soundwave festival back in February. “It was great fun; beautiful place,” Afkary says with great positivity. “Can’t wait to be back.” With this notion made, it must be asked why the band have returned so soon? “There’s a promoter out there who thinks our first headlining tour would be successful, and so far ticket sales have been great,” explains Afkary. “Obviously, his faith in us is paying off!”

Scary Kids have been on the road supporting their latest release, 2007’s self-titled release, for quite some time now. “It’s been great, man. The tours have been very different – we’ve toured with a lot of – œparty’ bands, we’ve toured with a lot of Christian bands, and equally we’re connecting with all of them a lot.” Asking for some of the best memories of the tour so far sees Afkary temporarily stumped. “That’s tough,” he muses out loud. “I’d say the first headliner tour we did on the back of the self-titled album was one of the best, but also the Versus tour we just did with Haste the Day. We have a real camaraderie with them.”

Scary Kids Scaring Kids is certainly a record that the band themselves are especially proud to be touring on. The band’s first record, 2005’s The City Sleeps in Flames, is described by Pouyan as being “really rushed”.

“We only had thirty days to write it, and we’d just gotten a new guitarist [Steve Kilby, who did not play on the band’s debut After Dark EP], who was just getting comfortable with our vibe,” he recalls, before adding, “I think in the two years between albums, he got the time to become comfortable with the band.” So what was the next step for Scary Kids? “We locked ourselves away for a month and a half in a secluded place and focused ourselves entirely on the record,” Afkary continues solemnly. “What we wanted to play had slightly changed in that past two years and we really wanted to grow. It was a very conscious effort to make growth from the last album.”

With such a positive state of mind that the band are now in (touring an excellent sophomore release, playing with good friends, seeing the world), certainly Pouyan must be exhilarated to be back in Australia? “I dunno, man…” he says cautiously. “I’m actually kinda nervous. I always stress myself out about making next time bigger and better, y’know what I mean?” Nerves aside, one can rest assured that Pouyan and his five fellow Kids are set to put on some memorable shows this week, with all shows close to selling out at time of writing. Having said that, Afkary is still not without his reservations. “I don’t think I’ll ever get really excited unless we’re, like… KISS or something,” he jokes. “Or AC/DC, in your case.”