Before their ArcTanGent festival appearance, Ash Edmonds caught up with Rolo Tomassi’s Nathan Fairweather (bass) and Chris Cayford (guitar) to chat about the Sheffield experimentalist’s newest album, Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, as well as their relationship with Holy Roar and thei impossibility of being normal.
How has this year been for you so far?
Nathan: Yeah, it’s been good. The album came out in March and has been received really well. The first couple of months were spent getting ready for the release. After that we just had a string of nice shows and we’ve just finished off the festival season, it’s gone very smoothly so far.
How would you describe your live show?
Nathan: I would say we put a lot of thought into our sets to make them feel more balanced between the heavier and lighter bits. I would describe our show as well balanced, but I guess the concentration when live is on the more energetic songs.
Do the more energetic songs tire you out?
Chris: Maybe, now we are older.
Nathan: I actually think the slower ones take it out of me the most; standing around sucks! I prefer playing the energetic tracks.
Chris: We definitely think our setlists out a lot before we play, we think about the flow of the set and try to make peaks and troughs within it – make the intense bits really intense and the light bits refreshing. When you watch any band, if it is all one level and one dynamic, it can kind of get tedious at times
You have a high Metacritic score on the new album, Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It. How does that make you feel?
Nathan: It’s not something that we take overly seriously. We enjoy the fact that it’s the case, but it's not something that we really concern ourselves with. It isn’t something that we set out to achieve when putting the album together.
Chris: It’s a bit of a weird thing, we could've just had 10 people at publications who really liked our record, whereas a big release from a massive artist will probably be reviewed by hundreds of people and some don't like it, maybe we were just lucky.
Do you think that you will carry on your DIY ethic now that you have released five albums?
Chris: I think so yeah, just because we have been doing it that long, there's so much stuff that we can do ourselves and don’t need to pay anyone else to do. Like we will never have a tour manager, because James and I can do it. We have been programming lights for the last year or so to add another dimension to our live show. We learn to do everything ourselves; we don't have the money to pay anyone else!
Does Holy Roar do anything differently as a record label? Why has so much good music come out of the label this year?
Chris: In a small way it's kind of like how the Beach Boys and The Beatles were when they were releasing records, they were constantly trying to outdo each other. It's like a competition, but not really at the same time. I'm sure that the first time we heard [label mates] Conjurer, we were like, ‘That's sick, we should do that!’ And everyone else on the label feels the same, whether it be us, Employed To Serve, Svalbard or any others. Everyone is upping their game and before you know it there are a load of bands who want to strive to improve themselves because of others.
You both joined the band in 2012. How hard was it to learn the experimental material written previously at the beginning?
Nathan: When we joined we decided what we were going to play from the old stuff and what we wanted to do moving forward. In terms of adapting to writing, me and Chris had already played together in loads of bands before. We knew about this band from playing shows together. I think that the main obstacle was trying to find the best way to connect our writing styles.
Chris: This is the third album that me and Nathan have been a part of and we’re kind of in the swing of it now. Initially it was a little awkward, but we are all so in tune with each other now; I can't think of anything that James or Nathan have sent me that I don’t like. Hopefully it is going to carry on sailing smoothly.
There are some pop elements in your music in conjunction with heavy riffs and odd time signatures, do you worry that elitist metal fans wont connect to these areas?
Nathan: Yes and no. When we play heavier festivals, we pick a heavier set. To be honest there are a lot of metal bands who use pop style influences in the form of choruses or structure.
Chris: I think that Aftermath is probably the poppiest song we have ever done and that was a big hit. We don't write music to keep people happy. We will continue to do our own thing; if people like it, they like it, if not, who cares?
How do you keep creativity flowing in creating these experimental tracks?
Chris: We have been doing this for so long we have forced ourselves into a corner. We can’t do anything else now! If I pick up a guitar I cant write anything deemed ‘normal’. It's so hard!