We caught up with James Spence of Rolo Tomassi to talk about touring, veganism and his favourite places for vegan food.
Hi James! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us first and foremost. Just wanted to start off by getting a quick introduction to your band Rolo Tomassi, can you describe Rolo in a sentence?
Hello! Rolo Tomassi is something I still struggle to concisely sum up in a sentence without sounding incredibly self-interested. Musically, we’re a heavy band with hardcore, shoegaze and post-rock leanings. I think that sounds alright!
You’ve been a band for 10 years now, you’ve gone from bright young whippersnappers to veterans of the scene. You’ve just finished touring Australia and had a show in Tokyo. It sounds like it’s going pretty damn well! How’s the last year been?
It’s been a lot of fun thanks. We put out our fourth full length in June of 2015 and have been touring that since then. We’ve been able to reach a lot of different places and play out the album that we’re happiest with.
What are the plans for you & the band over the next year?
Writing a lot of new music is what we mainly have planned. Taking a short break from playing to accommodate that properly. We’ve never been good at writing music as we still tour another record!
You tour quite extensively, and not just in the UK, but over pretty much every continent, so you’ve seen a good part of the world! What’s your favourite country or city to play in and is there a reason you prefer that place?
Australia. Great crowds, normally good weather, beautiful scenery and AMAZING vegan food. Every other little cafe has amazing options for veggies and vegans and chains like Lord of the Fries are phenomenal. They kindly sort out touring international bands with free meals too so we love them doubly for that.
Where do you find the best places to eat vegan on tour? What have been your best finds and are there any places you recommend people have to try?
Australia for all reasons stated previously. Also Berlin is an absolute treasure trove of eateries. Places like Oh La La, Goodies, Vöner, Zeus Pizza… I could go on and on!
Have you been vegan since the band began? I know you and Eva have been vegan for some time. When did the change happen for you and what made you alter your diet?
No I went vegan 3 years ago after we got back from Australia. The change for me followed being diagnosed as having IBS and dairy being one of the triggers for having problems with my stomach. I had been vegetarian for a number of years anyway so it wasn’t a drastic change. During that trip to Australia we had mainly been eating vegan anyway as most of the guys in one of the support bands were vegan, so I knew I could do it after that tour.
Over the years, veganism has played more and more of a part in the music scene, from the early days of Minor Threat and the straight edge movement to nowadays it being effectively present and is no longer genre specific. With bands and music always being influential in getting a message out, how important a role do you think music plays in bringing topic such as animal rights, and indeed human rights, to the public’s attention?
As you’ve said, it’s always played a significant role, certainly in the more ‘underground’ (or whatever you’d want to call it…) scenes that have always been more ethically conscious. More than ever now, artists are able to engage with their fan-base through a variety of social media, outside of shows and their music. It’s encouraging that a lot of them, even on mainstream levels, are using this platform to talk about this. Whether it’s from the basics of sharing pictures of food and restaurants to links to more in depth reading on it, people can reach widespread audiences to spread the message!
Finally, last time you were in Glasgow we went to a Glasgow vegan favourite, Mono, for food. If I remember correctly, we went for the Banana Split & pizza crunch. What are your ratings out of 10 for Vegan food in Glasgow?
It’s up there with the best places I’ve visited for its selection of food! I always love eating out in Glasgow. I just wish I got to spend a bit more time there to get to all the places I enjoy.