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Meet the changing face of the UK underground

Employed To Serve’s Justine Jones and Rolo Tomassi’s Eva Spence are leading the charge for the UK underground. We got them together to talk DIY culture and screaming your lungs out

Employed To Serve met Rolo Tomassi back in 2015, when they supported the band in London. But their relationship goes deeper than that. Both bands deal in ferocious, erratic hardcore, both are signed to independent UK label Holy Roar, and both have a strong, DIY ethic when it comes to their art. We sat down with Rolo Tomassi’s Eva Spence and Employed To Serve’s Justine Jones to talk about what it means to be independent, and how the UK underground is changing for the better.

Eva, when was the first time you heard Employed To Serve?

Eva: “We were talking about gig supports a few years ago, and I think either James [Spence, vocals/keys] or Chris [Cayford, guitar]suggested you guys, and I was like, ‘Oh, they have a female vocalist as well! Amazing!’ It’s something that’s definitely growing in this scene, but when we started we barely played with any bands with female members, let alone female vocalists.”

Justine: “I didn’t realise it was something I knew I wanted. I was so used to not being with other girls on tour, as soon as I started touring with girls in bands, it was like, ‘This is sick!’ I don’t know if you have it, but you have to share your changing room – the girl’s toilets – which is really annoying as more girls are coming to shows.”

Eva: “If we arrive to a venue late and I have to do my warm-up, that’s normally where I go, because people don’t want to hear you making weird noises in the dressing room.”

Justine: “I’ve locked myself in a cubicle and come out to a really worried-looking 14-year-old! Ha ha ha! It’s not a graceful thing to warm up for.”

Rolo Tomassi were an anomaly in the early days. What are your memories of the mid-00s UK scene?

Eva: “I was 14 years old when we started playing shows, and being a female vocalist I feel like we were treated as a bit of a novelty, but we’ve managed to sustain it and grow out of that. It took a long time for people to take us seriously in that respect, but I know that age played a big part in that as well. The first female-fronted band we toured with was Blood Red Shoes, and that wasn’t until I was 19, so it was a long time before I had that experience of touring with another woman. It was a hugely male-dominated scene and it can be quite intimidating when you’re a young woman in amidst all that, but it’s something that has gotten more comfortable over the years.”

Both bands will also play Download Festival at Donington in June.

From the archive

From the archive

From the archive


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