As the lead singer of experimental rock band Rolo Tomassi, Eva Spence has played in venues all across the world – forming the band with her brother when she was just 13. February 18th 2015 marked the 10-year anniversary of the band’s live show, which they celebrated with the announcement of their fourth studio album, ‘Grievances’.
Over the past few years, Eva’s taken a step back from the music scene, instead concentrating on Night of the Living Thread: an independent web store selling handmade accessories and homewares. Hanna sits down with Eva, to talk bands, bags and onstage ‘banter’.
In the early days of Rolo Tomassi, you kept things very ‘DIY’ – organising many shows yourself and hand-making your releases. Was this out of necessity or because you favoured the DIY approach?
A little bit of both, to be honest. When you’re starting out as a band, you do need to take things into your own hands. If you don’t have a physical release to send out, record it yourself, make the packaging, make it interesting. We put on our first ever show and asked friends’ bands to play, just so we had a show to play.
As we continued, we favoured a DIY approach as it meant we were fully involved in every aspect of our band, with total control over what we did, with no one else to blame but ourselves. We now work with people who help to book our shows and a label that puts out our music, but the ethic still remains in terms of how our band works in general. How we operated in the early days put us in great stead to deal with the workings of being in a band outside of making music.
Do you feel you were taken seriously as a female musician, and what obstacles (if any) have you had to overcome?
When we first started out, I think we were seen as a bit of a novelty, I was only 14 when I joined Rolo Tomassi and for a long time we were just these kids making weird music. I used to have stuff shouted at me on stage all the time. I was between the ages of 16 and 18 when this was most prominent. Guys stood in the crowd shouting at a teenager to “get her tits out”!
It very rarely happens now, and if it does the crowd sort of deal with it and I ignore it. When it was worse, I used to call it out more. Looking back, it feels ridiculous that I had to make three albums and have been touring and playing for 10 years to get to a point where I say it’s not too bad now.
Shirley Manson said in an interview in 2013 that she misses Courtney Love’s eccentricity. Do you think many musicians play it safe these days? If so, why?
I don’t really have an opinion on this. It’s hard to generalise ‘musicians’ as a whole. I wouldn’t necessarily attribute ‘eccentricity’ directly to create what I personally perceive as interesting or good music, which has always been our end game.
With all your gigging and recording, do you have much time to spend on Night of the Living Thread? How long has the business been running?
Unfortunately, not as much time as I’d like, but I try and manage a few hours of sewing per week. I still absolutely love doing it and have no plans to stop! It’s been going now for almost six years. I started selling hair clips and ties at shows, then moved onto my web store.
Do you believe in having goals? If so, what’s your next one?
Absolutely! There are a few at the moment, but my first one will be to try and feature Night Of The Living Thread at craft fairs over the summer.
By Wendy Davies