Interview: The Roseville Band
Once upon a time, not so long ago, there used to be an idea that to break into the music industry you had to work hard, play gigs to one man and his dog, sleep in vans and generally hope for that big break. This concept must seem a bit archaic to the new generation raised on X-Factor and MySpace. Why would you leave your bedroom to play to a handful of people? What is the point? Well, to answer all these questions and more I met up with Wrexham’s The Roseville Band.
The Roseville Band formed in November 2006 from the ashes of another local band, Crosbi. Spurred on by the success that Crosbi gained brother’s Andy and Steve Jones continued the hard work and grafted a sound reminiscent of Dexys Midnight Runners combined with the more grittier blues of Neil Young and The Rolling Stones. Augmented by a two piece horn section they are an exciting prospect with a powerful live show. It is not just older artists who provide influences though with a disparate range of newer more experimental artists such as Arcade Fire and in particular Wilco giving them a fresh edge.
Signing to independent record label Tri-Tone Records they have already released two albums ‘Little Eyes in the Universe’ (2010) and ‘Shake the Walls’ (2011). Constantly on tour they have been championed by The Guardian, received airplay on BBC6 Music and BBC Wales as well as prestigious gigs at Glastonbury Festival and Liverpool Sound City. As the new year approached they are hard at work on their third album and this is where I catch up with them.
Will the new record be more of the same, or will you be looking to experiment withyour sound?
“We’re definitely experimenting a lot more with the third album. I think it’s been a really creative process for us to record and release the first two albums the way we have – in just over 12 months. It’s meant that we’ve been constantly working through a process of writing, and demoing, then recording, and releasing the music; which has given us the scope to keep everything fresh – and I think that’s important for a band; because there’s so many examples of records taking forever to be released, and then by the time everyone gets their acts together, then the band can just feel so low on energy – you know, when they’re having to repeat the same trick for so long. So we’re always working on new songs to keep the energy up, and on this record that’s really noticeable. There’s lots of energy in the new songs, it’s a bigger and darker sound (compared to that on the first two albums), and we’ve been working a lot more on bringing in new sounds onto this record, albeit done by guitars, or other instruments. But you’ll have to wait until the New Year for all that, as we’re not gigging the new songs live until then.”
It is refreshing to see That The Roseville Band are not prepared to rest on their laurels. Perhaps more interestingly is a new found freedom in the studio to push the boundaries a bit more. For a band who are known for their hard work on tour it may seem odd that they choose not to hone the new songs live. It signals a shift in thinking which could finally push the band onto greater success. Talk turns to how they cope with their touring schedule and how life on the road compares to playing in their hometown.
How does hitting the road compare with playing in Wrexham?
“It’s always nice to play in Wrexham, because we’re building a good following here, so it’s a good crowd to play to, and it’s always fun to catch up with friends after the show. That said we tend to only play in Wrexham in general about twice a year – and it’s usually just to promote the release of a record, or in some special circumstances like a festival show, or a one off show like the one we’re doing in town this Boxing Day. You see for us it’s always been about reaching new people with our music, which means getting on the road. I personally love touring and playing in new towns and Cities. We all want to see the world, and this is a fun way to do it.”
What is the reaction from outside of Wrexham, playing to new people can be hard…does this affect the way you approach a gig?
“When we first started out, we were just hounding every promoter around the UK to show a bit of faith in us, just so we could go and play to new audiences. Sometimes it could really work out, and you’d have a packed room of new music enthusiasts really up for it, and sometimes you’d end up playing to the sound engineer and the bar staff – but you’ve got to do those shows initially, because you really learn a lot about yourself as a band. It does sharpen you up as a live act, and gig by gig you learn how to deliver the goods on the road. Also, it makes us really appreciate the shows nowadays, when we go down to London and we’ve filled the venue, and we get treated well by the promoter, there’s a feeling of reward that comes with that, because we’ve built this up from nothing. These days we’ve got people turning up who’ve heard us on the radio, and they’ve bought the albums, and they’re coming to the shows knowing the songs. Knowing that we’ve got that support out there does give us
a belief in what we’re doing.”
What are European audiences like?
“The audiences in Europe are great. We love touring in Germany in particular, and we’re really excited to be going back in 2012, but we want to tour everywhere. We’ll be doing shows in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany in the New Year, and that will be coming off the back of our shows in Toronto for Canadian Music Week 2012, so there’s a good buzz in the band right now, and we’re just eager to get out there and do it.”
Anybody who has witnessed The Roseville Band live will know how consummate and professional they are. They are a band who take every gig seriously and play as if it’s their last one. In a time when so many bands are just phoning in their live sets The Roseville Band hark back to the old days when bands used to crawl up and down the lengths and breadths of motorways looking for their next gig. Hard work has certainly paid off for them and the experience gained from playing to so many different people across the globe has given them the confidence to believe in what they are doing. I decide to ask how they feel about the scene back home in Wrexham and how it has affected them.
What do you think of the current crop of bands in the Wrexham scene?
“There’s a lot of talent in North Wales in general which is great. I’m not getting into the situation of stating that I think any particular couple of local bands are better than the rest or any of that, because the truth is that there are a lot of great local bands making great music, and I wouldn’t want to forget to mention anyone, and I’m sure that there’ll be some great bands out there that I’ve personally not heard of yet. What I will say though, is that there were more albums released out of the local area in 2011 than in any year previously, which is a good indicator of the productivity of it all at this moment in time. I know fully well that a bunch of my friends’ bands are releasing albums in 2012, and so along with our new record, 2012 could (in consecutive years) prove to be the most productive that the area has ever known – and that’s all positive in my book”.
Do you think more needs to be done to help the Wrexham scene?
“There’s much talk and debate on this topic, and that’s good because it shows that people care strongly about it. There’s a bunch of promoters in the area, working hard to put on regular nights, and compared to a lot of other towns in Wales, the local musicians are spoilt for choice for gig opportunities. From what I can see, the bands are really productive right now, as are the promoters, but people are skint, and as a result live music attendances are taking a bit of a hit at the moment. I’m positive overall though, and I think the future is looking really good for new music in the area”.
Having achieved success, would you put it down to support from your hometown or just getting out and doing it?
“Well it’s a bit of both really – and to clarify; its small glories for us so far, as we’ve still got a lot of goals that we’d like to achieve. Our local support has obviously been a great help to us, but you’ve really got to get out there and prove it on the road. Playing to friends and family once every couple of months doesn’t really work in the long run, because a band will ultimately exhaust their audience going down that route, and we’ve recognised that from the very beginning. I think there’s a lot of merit in getting on the road and touring your music, and people do ultimately acknowledge that hard work – not only on a local level, but in the music industry in the wider sense. The team of people we’re currently working with – our label, publishers, booking agent, and PR team – are only working with us now because at some point we went to play these small shows out of town for no money, that they all ended up being at, and consequently began to work with us – so that goes to show that there is merit in the graft”.
I couldn’t agree more about this idea of working hard to achieve success. Going back to the comments I made earlier about the state of the music business these days it is inspiring to see that so many new bands are reverting back to the old ways of touring constantly. Yes, there is no money in the music business (or more likely than not, there is but the companies are unwilling to part with it) but where there’s a will there’s a way as they say. Unfortunately as Andy has stated, lack of money prevents people from getting out to these gigs to support talent. This is something that needs looking into but in the meantime you can rest assured that this will never stop bands from starting out on that rocky road to success. Let’s start now and support local music scenes, bands such as Roseville deserve it. Keep an eye out in the local and music press for The Roseville Band. 2012 looks like it could be their year.
Andrew is an editor and writer for wrexhammusic.co.uk and promotes the wrexhammusic.co.uk nights.