BIG IN 2016
As 2016 opens its doors, we’ll make sure you’re properly briefed on the acts who will dominate the next twelve months. With their debut album out now, ROAM want to be all killer.
Words: Ali Shutler.
“Fror a long time, we’ve wanted to do more with our music,” explains Alex Adam from an American airport. Half of ROAM are flying home to Eastbourne (not direct, obviously) after finishing their final date of a US tour alongside Handguns last night, while the rest are off to visit New York. Fuelled by their second EP ‘Viewpoint’, ROAM spent the majority of 2015 on the road.
They played something like 120 shows in 365 days which, calculators at the ready, works out to be a very busy year indeed. You’d understand if the band wanted to take a break but with debut album ‘Backbone’ out now 2016, ROAM aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
That desire to do more with their music has resulted in ‘Backbone’, an album of exploration, risk and entertaining reward. Opening track ‘The Desmond Show’ is named after the band’s driver on their first US tour, which took place halfway through recording the album. “He used to introduce himself to people by saying ‘I’m Chris and I’m driving this crazy bunch of Desmonds.’ We thought it was hilarious. He’s also the guy doing the American voice on that track.” The inside joke-cum-permanent reminder of a huge milestone for the band also satisfies their desire to “do something really different to start this album.” The reaction they want is “oh shit, what’s this?”
With ‘Backbone’, ROAM are introducing themselves. Whether or not you’ve met before, the record shows off new sides. “We wanted to explore. There are a lot of classic ROAM songs, but there are also a lot of songs that feature something you wouldn’t expect from us. It was really natural,” Alex continues. The desire’s been there for a “long time” but only with the full-length canvas did the band have enough space to properly create. “It’s really hard with an EP because you have four songs that have to punch. You can’t push too many boundaries whereas, with an album, you’ve got 12 songs. You can really show a load of different sides.”
‘Backbone’ is “definitely” the album they set out to make, but that’s not to say the band haven’t been surprised. Taking a step back to reflect on how much they’ve achieved is “something that just creeped up,” on them. “Sometimes we’re somewhere amazing and we all go quiet and look at each other. ‘Fuck, we got here somehow,’ but other than that it’s been gradual so it’s hard to gauge.”
The band’s growth is down to two things. “Hopeless Records have definitely introduced us to a whole new bunch of kids which is awesome. They all seem stoked on both the singles, but equally we’ve put a lot of touring in this year. We have gained a lot of attention through that which is cool too!” For all the positives, the band know they’ll have their critics and they love seeking them out in the YouTube comment section. “It’s hilarious, the good ones are great but honestly, reading negative YouTube comments on our videos is one of my favourite things. It’s never ‘This isn’t for me, too poppy’ or anything constructive or thought out. It’s just incredible reading them.”
As fun as laughing at the trolls is, the band want their music to be liked, obviously. With ‘Backbone’, Alex has a specific reaction in mind. “I want people to feel the way I felt when I first listened to ‘Does This Look Infected?’ I know that’s a big ask and it might take until album two, but I feel like it’s doable. I just felt like it was perfect, it was like musically, lyrically, production-wise, artwork-wise perfect. To me anyway.”
The band have their influences but with pop punk more than most, there’s a sense of heritage. A lineage you can trace. ROAM take their name from a The Story So Far song who, in turn, take their name from a New Found Glory track. The band have already taken their place in that legacy, “I mean there’s a band called Head Rush and Nothing In Return now so I guess it’s already happening. It’s sick.”
With the band booked up until the end of summer 2016 – and working on plans for after that – ROAM, like in 2015, will be spending most of the next twelve months sat in airports and playing shows. “Eventually I’d love our live show to be more than just us playing a few songs in a row, I’d love loads of cool production and different ways to get the crowd involved,” dreams Alex. “But for now I just want people to go crazy and have fun!”