James Mainwaring (tenor sax and electronics), Luke Wynter (guitar) and Luke Reddin-Williams (drums) are rising to the top at rocket speed. Nominated Best Jazz Act at the MOBOs and Album of the Year at the Barclaycard Mercury Prize and winners of the Peter Whittington Jazz Award and Best Newcomers at the JazzFM awards; meet Roller Trio. 1883 talked to the jazz rock band (yes, we were a little puzzled by that genre when we first read it too) from Leeds just before their gig at King’s Place, London.
With everything that has been going on lately for you guys, we can say that Roller Trio is turning out to be a real success. But when did you first realize this?
Luke W: For me it was on the night that they were announcing the nominees for the Mercury Prize. I don’t really watch television so I had no idea of the scope of it all. Suddenly there were camera’s everywhere and people asking for interviews… it was kind of scary!
Luke R-W: The first time I thought we were on to something was when we got our review in The Guardian in October last year. It was a four star review and I just couldn’t believe it. I was like ‘really? Wow.’ I wasn’t expecting it at all.
You recorded your first album in only two days…
James: Yeah, and this time we’ve got five days of studio time.
Luke W: That’s more than double. I’m excited. But the two days are kind of the bar of what we are capable of. The last album was recorded in two days but we had been gigging the tunes on the album throughout the year. They aren’t the same each time you play them, but you get the right level of confidence.
Are you planning on recording the album soon?
James: Yeah, sometime during the next few months I think.
Luke W: I don’t know what people are doing when you read an interview with a band saying ‘we took a year off after recording our album.’ I go like, ‘what are you doing for an entire year?!’
It’s said more than once that a second album has even more pressure. Do you feel this?
Luke R-W: A bit. I try not to think of it that way because if you try to please people you’ll drive yourself crazy. We just keep doing what we do. We are still at a stage where it’s still easy to write. We get along really well.
James: We still have a lot to discover about our own sound. I think the second album is going to be even better than the first one. We’ve got more time and there’s even more of us in there. We’ve added a bit more groovy kind of stuff and more melody.
Luke R-W: The new songs that we’ve got are quite different to what was on the first album so I look forward to what people think of it. But it’s still us. I’m pretty sure that if people liked the first album, they will like the second one. But you never know.
Lianne La Havas has said she wants to collaborate with you guys.
Luke W: Well, that’s what she says yeah.
James: We were meant to be meeting her over Christmas but everyone is so busy at the moment.
Luke R-W: It would be really interesting to see what would happen though. If we could apply our own way of writing music with someone else’s.
If there was anyone else, dead or living you could collaborate with, who would it be?
Luke W: Jimi Hendrix. That would be so much fun.
Luke R-W: But you would have to let him do his thing…
Luke W: It’s Jimi Hendrix, he can do whatever he wants!
Luke R-W: It’s a tough question… I would probably say Miles Davis.
James: I want to go for St. Vincent. It would be pretty tricky…
Luke W: yeah, but a lot of fun.
With all the praise and compliments you have been getting, what has been the best one so far?
Luke W: I stopped reading the reviews. When you get a good one it’s really nice, but when it’s bad you feel like they didn’t really understand it… It made me kind of sick reading them.
Luke R-W: I prefer the type of compliments you hear from fans.
James: Yeah, tweets and people after the gigs and stuff.
Luke R-W: After a gig in Sheffield there was this guy who said he had been going to gigs for 25 years and that ours was one of the best he had seen. That sounded big. And these are people that have actually seen our music the way it’s supposed to be, live.
We let the band get on with their preparations for the gig that night and later on we experience their music the “way it’s supposed to be”. Their sound is unlike anything you will have heard before and it’s not hard to believe the hype once you experience it for yourself. Click here for their upcoming tour dates, you won’t regret it.
Words by Chloé Bauwens
Photography by Joe Plommer