Rolo Tomassi Talk Relationship Of Command

Sheffield act’s James Spence on first encounters with At The Drive-In…
Rolo Tomassi

At The Drive-In’s ‘Acrobatic Tenement’ and ‘Relationship Of Command’ albums have recently been reissued by Transgressive, on both delicious vinyl and compact disc.

With the innovative Texan outfit’s influence so prominent across today’s crop of brain-bruising rockers, Clash asked Rolo Tomassi (pictured) – hardly strangers to invention themselves – to pen a few words on first encountering the band’s singular sounds.

And keyboardist James Spence kindly obliged…

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At The Drive-In – ‘One Armed Scissor’

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I’m fairly sure I first heard At The Drive-In on MTV2. I would have been at Ed’s house (Ed is our drummer) and the video for ‘One Armed Scissor’ was playing.

I remember being captivated by the way they played and how much the guitarist, Omar, was freaking out. Almost like he was attacking his instrument. It resonated with me somewhat and I was intrigued by it.

Prior to that I'd listened to bands like Muse and Blink-182. I’d never really heard anything as angular and frenetic. I saw Hundred Reasons open for Muse at the first gig I ever went to and followed them pretty closely. In a lot of interviews and reviews they got compared to ATD-I (a comparison that basically ended with fuzzy hair, looking back on it) and that made me pick up ‘Relationship Of Command’.

From putting on the first track I was sucked into it. The odd sounds, the samples, the weird, almost undecipherable lyrics. I'm the kind of person that will get into something and obsess over it, and there was so much for me to grab onto with this band as an impressionable, wide-eyed 14-year-old.

I’d say it pretty much got me into heavy music. I can almost in my head make out a sort of lineage that takes me from At The Drive-In to getting into more straight-up aggressive hardcore, weirder and noisier experimental bands, and then more progressive-based rock music following on from what they did with The Mars Volta.

When I'd gotten into them, ATD-I had already broken up and I figured I'd never get to see them play. I went down to their reunion show at Brixton Academy last August. I enjoyed it. Having seen a lot of other people's responses I think I may have been one of the only ones. It was just pretty cool to hear those songs live having spent a lot of time when I was younger listening to them in my room.

Words: James Spence

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Win something! Clash has a copy of ATD-I’s ‘Relationship Of Command’ to give away. To win it, simply head to our Twitter account – clash_music – and retweet the relevant post. Easy eh? We’ll choose a winner at 5pm on Friday, 26th April. THIS COMPETITION HAS CLOSED.

Find Rolo Tomassi online here

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