Louder with Alex Costello and Alex Adam of Roam
With no more years of being unable to ‘wait for the summer and the Warped Tour’ ahead of us now that the iconic touring festival has finished it’s 23-year run, the international pop punk world that was borne from the festival has entered a period of mourning. A little closer to home, however, the future of the pop punk world is in the safe hands of the likes of south-coast quintet Roam, whose sophomore album ‘Great Heights and Nosedives’ dropped, to great praise, at the tail end of last year. Now well into this new album cycle, Roam recently embarked upon an intimate tour of cities that missed out on their headline run that accompanied the album release, and we caught up with frontman Alex Costello and guitarist Alex Adam at the Liverpool stop to discuss the changing landscape of their scene, the connection between their art and their fans, and to commence the inaugural Great Ketchup Debate…
You guys are a good few months into the ‘GH&ND’ album cycle now- has it been different to the last time around with ‘Backbone’?
I would say it’s been different in term of our approach to things- we’re trying to be more thoughtful about who we tour with and where we go and stuff like that which we hadn’t really thought about before. We’re also trying to make sure the things like the merch are very album-related and stuff like that, so the approach to the business side of things is different this time around.
Recently, you guys allowed fans to create fan art for the songs and gave a greater insight into the meaning behind the songs- has that changed how you view the connection between the album and the fans?
I think people enjoy being able to do that- for me, when I find out what a song is about, even if I’ve applied my own meaning to it beforehand, when you then listen back it gives a song a whole new life, and I think that’s when you really feel a song, when you know what the person writing it was going through, so I think it’s allowed fans to explore the album in a new, deeper way. The art thing was really cool because we have a lot of talented fans that make great artwork so we wanted to include that- it’s cool that our art can breed more of their art.
As much as this album has been embraced by the fans, do you still feel like you retain some autonomy over it or once it’s out in the world does it change how you view your work?
I think it does feel like it’s theirs- the whole time we have it we’re desperate to give it away, we’re sat on it and we just want other people to hear it, and then when we give it out it does become everyone’s in a way. It doesn’t stop it being ours, but now it’s not JUST our thing anymore, it’s a shared piece of art, it’s something everyone can have, which is great, but you also can’t help thinking it would be cool to have it back again just for a little while.
This tour is a great way to connect with those fans, especially being in such intimate venues- was that something you were conscious of in planning for this tour?
We missed out a lot of the places we’re playing now on the original headliner, partly because if you play Manchester for example, you can’t really play Liverpool too because you’re going to suffer in one of those places in terms of numbers because while some people will come to both shows, lots of people won’t, so we’d rather pack out one and then come back and do the other place later on. We were conscious that we wanted to do places that wouldn’t normally get a tour, so we did Milton Keynes instead of London which is very different but it was a great show. We wanted to hit the places we wouldn’t have gone otherwise and give everyone the chance to experience the show. It’s been a very different tour to the one we did in December, it has felt a lot more personal and intimate, and also a lot more messy, like it did when we first started playing shows with everyone jumping around up in your face!
On the line-up you have Milestones who have just released a great record, and they’re just one of many bands in the pop punk scene who have released great records or who are preparing to release new material (State Champs, As It Is etc)- does having this community of pop punk bands around you make it harder to make yourselves heard or does it push you to develop more creatively?
I think it definitely pushes you more, it makes you look at what other bands have done and forces you to find a way to be different and a way to push yourself without going too far, because I think it’s very easy to get carried away at the same time. It’s also inspiring, if you hear someone who has taken a bit of a risk but they still sound like them, it makes you think ‘well maybe we can do this with our music?’ and find a way to be exciting and still sound like us- like finding a new side of us.
Will that influence how you develop going forwards with the future of Roam?
I definitely think it will- with the next album we plan on taking more risks, but not the wrong kind of risks. I think Great Heights and Nosedives is great and I think it’s exactly the album we needed to put out, but if we put another album out exactly the same it would be too safe- there’s so much of that kind of sound now at varying levels that we need to stand out and claim a specific sound as our own, so I think that’s something we’ll be conscious of going forward.
Finally, the most important question of all- who in their right mind keeps ketchup in the cupboard?!
AC: I don’t like it in the fridge either, and my mum always insists on putting it in the fridge!
AA: I tend to put mine back in the fridge, just because it’s a natural reaction to put it there, but it’s usually out for a while before I use it so it’s not cold.
AC: If you have hot toast with hot bacon on it, and then you put a load of cold stuff on it it’s awful! Chocolate goes in the fridge though- when we used to tour we always used to have a block of Dairy Milk in the fridge, because after sweating that much onstage, all you want is a nice bit of sugar, so we’d just come back and smash a whole bar of Dairy Milk!
Now that I can get behind!
So despite their… unconventional opinions on the correct home for a bottle of ketchup, it is clear that this is a band confident in the steps they’ve made thus far, but also hungry to experiment, broaden their horizons and explore where their creativity is going to take them next. There’s still plenty of the Great Heights and Nosedives era still to go, but with their eyes firmly fixed on the future, anyone not watching with bated breath for Roam’s next move is missing out.
‘Great Heights and Nosedives’ is out now via Hopeless Records and is available to buy and stream on all platforms. You can listen to ‘Playing Fiction’, the lead single from the record, below:
The band have an appearance scheduled at Burn It Down Festival in Torquay on September 1st before heading off on a co-headline tour of the USA with Canadians Like Pacific. Dates are below.
10/05 – Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge 10/06 – Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry 10/07 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hoosier Dome 10/09 – St. Louis, MO @ Fubar Lounge 10/10 – Kansas City, MO @ The Rino 10/12 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge 10/13 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Loading Dock 10/15 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon 10/16 – Portland, OR @ Lola’s Room 10/18 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver 10/19 – Berkeley, CA @ 924 Gilman 10/20 – Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction 10/21 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Underground 10/23 – Austin, TX @ Come & Take It Live 10/24 – Dallas, TX @ The Prophet Bar 10/26 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade 10/27 – Orlando, FL @ Soundbar 10/28 – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern 10/29 – Charlotte, NC @ Local 506 10/30 – Richmond, VA @ Canal Club 11/01 – Cambridge, MA @ Sonia 11/02 – Amityville, NY @ Amityville Music Hall 11/03 – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge 11/04 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Kingsland 11/06 – Hartford, CT @ Underground 11/08 – Pontiac, MI @ Pike Room 11/09 – Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
Connect with Roam on Twitter: @ROAMse
Connect with Roam on their website: roam.uk.com