Louder with Matt Roskilly of Roam
Urging people to ‘Smile Wide’ can be, in this day and age, a tall order. However. Eastbourne’s Roam took that challenge on headfirst with their so-titled third record, and delivered rousing choruses and grin-inducing melodies in abundance- an uplifting powerhouse which they are now bringing directly to the people of the country, touring alongside Aussie pop rockers With Confidence. We spoke to bassist Matt Roskilly before their show in front of a packed out Academy 3 in Manchester to discuss the journey of their new record, our favourite songs to pit to, and their ideal Greggs order…
You guys have recently released your album ‘Smile Wide’- how have you found people’s responses to the record so far?
Really good! We were a bit nervous, because it’s sort of different to stuff that we’ve done before- we haven’t lost what we sound like, but we’ve sort of branched out in a lot of ways, so in a way it’s been a bit mixed, but we expected that, and mostly it’s been positive. There’s been a few people who have been like ‘we miss the old Roam playing songs off the EPs!’, but that music will always be there for them to listen to as much as they like! Also, we’ve had a lot of people on this tour coming up to us and saying that they didn’t really get it at first because they were expecting one thing, but now that they’ve seen it live, they get it now.
One of our favourite tracks on the record is the third single you released, ‘Hand Grenade’- could you give us a bit of an insight into the background behind that song?
I feel that anyone can relate to it in the sense that it’s about the fact that we’ve been overlooked and abused in the past, in terms of our music but also in our personal lives, and particularly with the band, people have been very quick to tell us that we’re going to be doing one thing, and then go behind our backs and do something different, and we then see the negative side effects of that and they never do- I can’t really give any examples without naming and shaming people, which is not what this is about. It’s essentially about people who will do something negative that impacts us but not them, and then they’ll just fuck off, and they leave you to deal with the shit- that’s where the idea of the hand grenade came from, and particularly that line ‘you pulled the pin and ran away’. That’s an over-riding theme with the album as well, is that feeling of being out of control and feeling like people are guiding you in ways you don’t want to go, and about how you pick yourself up from that and take back that control.
You’ve come a long way since those EPs- are you proud of the evolution the band has taken? Do you ever miss the early days of pulling a record together?
You’ll always look back on things you’ve done with fond memories, if they were positive experiences, and everything we’ve done with this band has been a great experience- there have been some highs and lows, as there are with being away from home for a long time and stuff- but I will always miss playing those older songs. But also, that was a different time [for us]- we started this band when we were 18, so there are songs that are about us being teenagers and coming out the other end of [adolescence], and stories about our past girlfriends from years ago which are now in a totally separate part of our lives. I’m very proud of the things we’ve done, and the way this album can be related to different people’s lives in different contexts, and those feelings of being out of control [are much more universal]. In terms of the sound as well, we want to be playing stuff that we want to hear- we haven’t ‘grown out’ of pop punk in any sense, we all still love it and have grown with it, and it’s still a massive part of our lives, but we do listen to a lot of other music too- we listen to a lot of Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, even Nirvana, to name an obvious one, and we wanted to show people that we’re not a one-trick pony that can only play one style of music. So, we’re super proud of how it’s come out, and there’s not one song that I dislike on the album.
The one song I do hope stays is Headrush- I always seem to fall over in the pit during that song!
It does always kick off with that song! It’s funny, we’ve played around a few times with not playing it, and it just feels weird! So I think it’ll be one of those songs that always in our setlist- we might retire it at some point, but I don’t think we’ll ever not play it again! It’s kind of the one that started it all for us- there are times when we do get bored of playing it, because it’s probably the song that we’ve played the most times out of all of them- I reckon we’ve played it upwards of 600 times! I’ve probably spent hours and hours of my life playing that song of you added it all up, but it is always fun to play live, and people get this burst of energy when we start playing it!
This record draws on a wide range of different influences- did you find it a difficult process streamlining the kind of sound you wanted for the record?
It was quite hard, and I think that’s where our producer, Machine – his nickname is Machine, his real name is Gene- that’s where he played a really pivotal role in this, he sort of took everything and compressed it into this over-riding sound. There are songs on there like ‘LOUD’, which are really out there- that was actually the first song we wrote for the album, where we just wanted to write something completely different, and build from there. There are a few songs that didn’t make the cut- they still exist in our brains but they’re not quite finished, and they were a bit out there. There are maybe three of those that were real oddballs, which is saying a lot with songs like ‘LOUD’ still being on there! So, it did take some chopping and changing, but we’re very happy with the way it sounds cohesively, as well as having a little bit of weirdness in there!
Are we ever going to hear those other ones, out of curiosity? Perhaps put them together on one really weird little EP?
Maybe! Because they were the first ones we wrote for the album, they were the least properly developed- with the way we write, we start with a chorus, try and make that catchy; then add the first verse; and then try and build off that chorus. So, most of those songs aren’t fully formed, there’s like half a song there, so I don’t know if we’ll put that time in to finishing them. There was one that [vocalist and lyricist Alex] Costello got really upset didn’t make the cut- the working title was ‘Serotonin’- and he was adamant that it was on the album, it was his favourite song that he’d written, and we all sort of [vetoed it].
Looking over to touring, you’re currently on a co-headline with With Confidence- if you had to give one of your songs to them and take one of their songs, which would you swap and why?
I’d take ‘Icarus’, that’s my favourite song of theirs, it’s just so cool! That’s just me, I know some of the guys would probably say ‘Archers’ or something like that- I like ‘Voldemort’ too, if I’m honest, it’s an absolute banger! I don’t know what I’d give them… maybe ‘Toy Box’, even though I love playing it, I think they’d do a good job of it, it’s quite a ‘With Confidencey’ song! I feel like it would sound good with Jayden’s voice, and all of their backing harmonies!
Song swap on the last night of tour then?
I’ll suggest it!
Looking at touring in a wider sense, do you have a favourite place that you played a while ago that you have yet to go back to?
Probably Australia or Japan, those two places blow my mind every time we go! I could go there twice a year every year and be more than happy doing that! We go to some weird places on tour, some very strange countries- we’ve played in Athens and Istanbul and places like that! Alex is very keen to go to Africa and do some stuff over there- there’s not much of a scene there, but we just want to go and do it! I just want to play anywhere we can, whether there’s people there or not, it’s always good fun!
You have £2.50 in your pocket- what do you spend it on?
Maybe Greggs! A vegan sausage roll and a Belgian bun is usually my go-to! You can’t get a lot for £2.50… so probably Greggs, I’m hungry and I usually don’t have time to eat before we play, so the answer for most of the band will probably be Greggs!
So if you’re coming to see Roam on the rest of their UK tour dates, you know what to bring them to win them over! And a trip to the pasty haven of the North was definitely justified after the manic set that followed- which did result in yet another fall in the pit during the aforementioned ‘Headrush’! Roam certainly have a great path laid out ahead of them thanks to ‘Smile Wide’, so come along for the ride!
'Smile Wide' is out now via Hopeless Records.
Roam still have several dates left of their current UK run with With Confidence, Woes and Dead Love- dates can be found below and remaining tickets are available here: