|Role Models - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Dom Daley|
|Sunday, 21 August 2016 03:40|
On the eve of their brand new record coming out (the uber-approved ‘Forest Lawn’) - I'm holed up in a Camden pub with all four members of Role Models. Breaking the mould of power pop punk rock n roll they currently can't do a single thing wrong. It’s great song after great show after great song after great record and so it goes on. Uber Rock couldn't turn down the opportunity to throw some questions at the band and find out what makes them tick, so wish me luck I'm going in.....
First question is to you Rags and it’s a simple one really I guess - where did you find these cheeky chaps and what is it that made them Role Models?
Rich Rags (singer/guitar): (Laughing) You know you always like to think you’re in control of this kinda stuff but time has a good way of taking care of things. I don't believe in fate and that kinda shit but when I first moved here I went to see this band and ended up asking Sully if he wanted to be in a band but then he decided to move to Manchester so he went and who knows what happened to the drummer but it was suddenly down to me and Dan and then the Loyalties played and I was asked about the Role Models wanted to play a couple of shows and Simon said I suppose you're going to need a drummer right, and then Nick we never really asked to be part of the band he just forced his way in when he was playing with The Yo-Yo's and doing this cover band show where I did some Clash songs and Nick said “if you ever need a guitar player then you know I’m here”, and after talking for a while I started to think well maybe fate does exist and there you go Role Models was a band and a really great band and it would kick me in the balls if I didn't take a guy as talented as Nick on board. So I guess I didn't choose any of them really maybe they chose me (“We're all drafted in” said Nick)
Would you say you all share the same influences or possibly not at all and that's what really works?
Simon Maxwell (drums): Massively, we’re poles apart in many respects. I like a lot of rock like Zeppelin and a bit of punk as well.
Dan Husayn (bass): I love all the punk D-I-Y stuff; the hardcore punk as well
Nick Hughes (guitar): I'm probably the more pop influenced guy I like loads of different styles I love great harmonies and well-structured pop songs as well and I think there's a lot of that at the base of what Role Models do. I love stuff like Beach Boys harmonies and if its heavy or not it's that what drives my pulse up...
Rich: As you know I love Tokyo Blade and Vinnie Vincent and KISS (which is something of an in joke between Rags and myself that we both are secret (or not so secret now) Tokyo Blade fans from the Vic Wright era, but shhh don't tell anyone). My main references would be bands like The Replacements and The Beatles or Cheap Trick and the Misfits.
I hear that when you were recording the new album you went into the studio with some really bare bones demos of the new songs or songs that would make this record and with such a melting pot they remained fairly faithful to those original ideas you had sketched out on GarageBand is it a challenge to work with four such diverse musicians who perhaps hear different things or not?
Rich: Well we did this new record firstly through PledgeMusic and one of the rewards was demos that were recorded for the record and whilst the structure might have remained the same the main thing that changed was the drums and Simon totally thought through how he could use the drums on this record and there was never any bass on those demos or any backing vocals.
Simon: I hate those GarageBand drums with a passion and the first thing I thought was what can I do to change them and I'd time change everything and send them back to Rags and he'd go well can you keep this in and that and I tried to use a lot of toms on this one and I thought how can I keep the beats but add rhythm and make it interesting as well and Nick added stuff too.
Rich: Nick would come back and suggest a chord change like on 'Wanted To Be Wanted' and he suggested a minor chord here instead of a major and when we worked through it just totally made sense and was exactly what was needed.
With there being a blank canvas in those songs bass wise how do you know what to play and where on the songs?
Dan: The biggest thing for me is I have to have the vocals on there before I can do my thing. A lot of the timing and stuff and making sure you don't get in the way sure there's a hole you can fill with the bass but you don't want to get in the way either.
Were there songs left out or worked on in the studio that were unfinished that these guys threw up?
Rich: There were little things like key changes and that kinda stuff for sure but not major ideas or new songs.
Nick: I think the one that possibly changed the most was 'Bullshit Corner' which started off as a beautiful solo piece with Rags and as soon as I heard it I heard it with all the bits added and when Ginger heard it he said don't be afraid to throw everything at it
Rich: I was kinda worried about that song for a while as the kinda song it is and when we spoke to Ginger and he said (in the worst possible Geordie accent) “this is good don't worry about it just let it flow and it'll work itself out and make it real and maybe throw a saxophone solo into it,” and like having an outsider give an opinion and throw some light on it was just what we needed.
Dan: When Rags handed us the demos you can tell the song is there and many times bands try to make a square peg round just for the sake of it to make it fit.
Would you guys agree that from 'The Go -To Guy' to 'Forest Lawn' you've made a much more confident record? After perhaps dipping your toes in and getting the response it deserved you sort of grew as a band and that afforded you the opportunities to lay down a song like 'Bullshit Corner', is that fair?
Simon: I do think this was far more a group effort
Nick: It’s perhaps more calculated as a record, we spent more time formulating it, if that sounds right? For 'Go-To' we had like one rehearsal then it was straight into the studio and lay down some guitars.
Rich: I love that about that record that it was a band going into a studio and just making a rock ‘n’ roll record, and yeah this record has had much more time spent on the arrangements and if it needed an overdub guitar solo here or there then we could make that decision. Maybe that comes from stuff like Nick and I getting together to work on the tracks. Personally I was like shitting my pants wondering if anyone was going to like the songs, I like the challenge as well I want next year to be another record. (Laughing)
Was there more pressure writing and putting this one together then?
Rich: Yes absolutely. When I talked to Jones (RIch Jones collaborator on many Role Models songs and guitarist in Michael Monroe’s band) he said “this is hands down a better record than 'Go -To'” and I was like “wow” that's means something coming from him you know?
Dan: Making music with Rags for over ten years I can say that his craft has gotten a lot better from the songwriting and recording and stuff it’s much better.
Rich: Thanks buddy!! (Laughing)! From everyone……
Was there anything you found harder about recording the second album? Resisting the temptation to not try different things and just make another version of 'The Go-To Guy'?
Rich: I think on this record there are a lot of songs in higher key than I've sung before and there were times when I wondered would it work.
Nick: I think maybe having the whole band add touches has helped separate it further from 'The Go-To Guy' and since knowing Rags there must be a hundred bands has sent me songs of that I'd never heard of before and that's had an influence and there were little pockets on this record where we've all been able to add our own personalities to the songs which has helped make it quite different to the last one.
I think you can hear that - it comes across on the record. Whilst it sounds like a Role Models record you can certainly hear you guys....
Rich: There is a lot of bass driven songs on ‘Forest Lawn’ too, Dan plays a lot of great stuff in the choruses of the songs, stuff that jumps to the fore on this record.
Dan: I think spending time working on the songs and trying to make them sound different and add something other than just playing solid rhythm worked as I described earlier.
Simon: The demos did the rounds between us much more on this record as we tried different things and once say Dan would change a part I'd then go back and make the drums fit and it worked itself out really well this time.
I guess the next thing to address is taking the record out on the road. I know we joke about it (that there is life outside of the M25) and there are reasons for it not happening yet, but maybe now is a good time to get out there and play some shows round the country?
Rich: Well Dan's moving to Glasgow and once the record is out it might be a good time to work something out. We still are unable to do the Powerslave world tour but it’s not that we don't want to play places it’s just not been possible. If someone wants to offer us something then of course we'd love to consider it. Maybe I could go out and play some places acoustic then return with the band when we can pull in a crowd perhaps weekend shows would be a good way to start? We’ll see. Maybe now is the time after the second album.
Already the reviews are coming in and people are getting the second album. What would you guys say is success for Role Models?
Dan: The fact we can do this
Rich: The fact we can make a record ourselves and get it out and do better with every release so by the time I'm 55 we'll be a household name! (Laughing)
Dan: Yeah, we'll buy a house and our wives will finally have heard of us (Even more laughter)
Rich: Yeah success will be being able to write songs outside of the bathroom. Listen, we've all been in bands but this one now right here I'm having so much fun with these guys and I couldn't be happier and I mean that. I can't wait to tell these meatballs that the next record won’t be like Queen it'll be like The Devil Dogs and we'll record it straight from the floor and that's it. (Laughing)
Finally on this record you have some pretty cool special guests again like Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa who would you like to get on the next one?
Rich: Um, I guess Ginger would be good if we could bug him to sing something and play guitar.
Nick: Three of us have been in bands with Tom (Spencer) and he would be someone I'd love to get on with, his talents like bass, guitar, singing…………….
Dan: I love the way you stare at me when you say that. He can play loads of things like bass. (Laughing)
What about writing a song with someone?
Rich: I'm doing it now but I can’t say who, just can't say.
Dan: Oh me I'd get Tom in on bass (Laughing)
Finally what can you say about the album launch show?
Rich: How good is that line up? Yup it’s a really good line up its going to be really great night with Brandy Row and Empty Pages and Brijitte West. It’s great to have so many talented people around us
Nick; Los Pepes have unfortunately had to drop out which is a shame but it gives us time to set up for the horn section. (Laughing)
It was at this point that we called time on our chat as the band were due on stage in a few short minutes but as you can tell from this briefest of chats they are four fine upstanding gentlemen who play some of the finest rock ‘n’ roll music being made in the UK today. So if you haven't already you really should check them out.
The new album ('Forest Lawn') is available from www.glunkrecords.bigcartel.com and tickets are selling fast for the launch show on the 10th of September at the Black Heart in that their Camden Town, London. You can get your ticket by clicking this link!
Photography courtesy of Thai Cervi, Nick Hughes, Ian Barthelemy and Stephen Vincent Photography