**Despite its name, The Rainbow is a strangely colourless and dull-looking venue – that is, until you get inside. Filled with various fauna and fungi, a bar and a couple of benches, the layout of the stage and its surroundings are peculiar. The winding corridors and the dim lighting make for an odd transition from jungle beach hut to underground night club, and around every corner lies a new door or passage. It is from one of these passages that James Spence, brother of frontwoman Eva Spence, appears.**
The creative mind behind the band, James Spence is a man with a lot on his mind. **Rolo Tomassi** have had a relatively quiet year, so the release of their new album _Astraea_ (out now) and the headline tour, in a certain sense, marks the next phase for the band. “It’s been really, really good so far” says Spence. “We got off to a great start in Bristol, and we’ve done Brighton and Nottingham as well. Three of us actually live in Nottingham so we had a sort of homecoming show. Both the supports have been great, so yeah, we’re really happy with how it’s gone”.
On the topic of the band’s new record, Spence emphasises the effect that new members Nathan Fairweather and Chris Cayford have had on the band and how the injection of new blood has altered the writing process. “To begin with we were managing to practice a couple times a month. What we’d do is that every time we rehearsed we’d record live demos of everything. Everyone would go away, listen to it by themselves and begin to hear what direction the songs were taking. It just made for much stronger songs”.
Musically, **Rolo Tomassi** have always been pushing the boundaries, but on _Astraea_, Spence suggests that the band have reached new heights. “For me personally, I certainly wanted to bring in more of the shoegaze, dreamy keyboard side of things and have big melodic passages. In the past there has usually been a crescendo that leads into something crushingly heavy, but this time round I wanted to explore the melodic element a bit more. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been with any collection of songs we’ve ever written”.
Although this genre-bending five-piece have been around seven years already, their passion and ambition is as strong today as it was when they first started out. “We’re so proud of this album that we want to be on tour with it for at least a year. The aim is to reach countries that we’ve never been to before and just play to people that want to hear our music.”
_Astraea_ is out now on Destination Moon.