Analogue Music | Roanoke


By Matt Conner

The difference you hear is in the level of ownership.

To hear Taylor Dupuis tell it, the palette has expanded on Roanoke's newest release, Where I Roam, a five-track EP layering new instrumentation and ideas atop the band's Americana-influenced pop of their debut. Per Dupuis, it's the beauty of having all five members own the songwriting process for the very first time.

One listen through the new EP is a compelling enough argument for Roanoke as Nashville's most under-appreciated band. The harmonies, the chemistry, the sonic flourishes that fill the weathered spaces—it all works to perfection on tracks like "Tennessee Stone" or "Silent Films" or "I'm Coming Home." It's a familiar Nashville amalgam of Nashville pop, but Roanoke has no issues making it their own.

On the verge of setting out for a new set of late summer tour dates, we sat down with Dupuis to ask about the band's genesis, their second album and the challenge of living with bandmates.

Analogue: When the debut is finally in the rearview mirror, what's the mindset for heading into a second album? Do you all stop and say, 'Okay, how did all of that go?'

Taylor Dupuis: I get what you're saying. Well, with the first album, we had the opportunity to record and we were a very new band. We had these songs and so we went into the studio to record. We're very happy with what we came out with, but we were so not ready to record. We released these songs and the whole thing took two years. That whole time, we were growing as musicians and songwriters, adding different sounds, so when we finally had the opportunity to record again, we were ready. We were ready to try new things, and we'd grown a lot as a band. We wanted to show people that.

Through touring and making money off of that, we were able to record again. We brought a manager on board and he really helped us move things along. There's so many of us, so it takes us a long time to actually make any decisions at times. [Laughs] But mentally we were definitely ready and very excited.


Analogue: Musically where did you want to go next?

Taylor: Folk music is a huge influence for us, but for this one we were definitely interested in exploring the less traditional side of it. If anything that was sonically where we were heading. Other than that, we didn't have any specific sounds we were going for. Some of these songs were written even a couple years ago, and others came from a writer's retreat in Michigan. We kind of took them all to the producer and engineers and collaborated, deciding what the songs needed. The electric guitar was new for us, so that was fun to explore those sounds as well.

Analogue: How do you know what to include?

Taylor: Some things were arranged already but the producers had a big hand on what we added or the nuances we used. I like to relate sound to color, and this is a very different color palette than our first album.

Analogue: You're from Michigan and the guys are from Florida. So I take it you didn't move to Nashville as a band.

Taylor: Most of us met in Nashville. Kyle [Breese] and Joey [Beesley] moved to Nashville from Florida, and everyone had their own ideas of what they wanted to do at first. A lot of us had solo projects or wanted to be songwriters. I met Kyle and Joey after working at B.B. King's downtown, and then we met Zach [Nowak] through a mutual friend. It turns out he's from Florida as well. Then a year later, John [Fiorentino], who grew up with Kyle, moved to Nashville.

Analogue: Maybe you can only speak for yourself, but was it hard at first for you to set aside whatever individual plan moved you to Nashville for the sake of this new band?

Taylor: For me, it just felt really right. I came here wanting to do my own thing, but I didn't really have a larger direction. When I came here, I was by myself and didn't know anybody. I met Joey and Kyle and we got along really well. We played music well together and we harmonized really well, so it all felt right. The timing and everything just felt right.

Analogue: What are you most excited about with this new set of songs?

Taylor: The first album featured a lot of Joey and me writing on it. There were a couple co-writes, but it was mostly me writing a song and bringing it to the band or Joey doing the same. Where I Roam is a collection of every single bandmate, which I think is amazing because everyone is so talented—not just on stage but songwriting wise.

I love the spirit of it. It's about being on the road and our experiences on the road. Like I mentioned earlier, we did that writer's retreat up in Michigan at my uncle's hunting lodge for a weekend. A couple of those songs made it on Where I Roam and it's really got the spirit of that, too. So it's really got a lot of different angles and it's a lot different than our first one. It's very special to me for sure.

Analogue: Was that a programmed retreat that you attended or was it something that the band just gets away personally to write?

Taylor: We had a couple shows in Michigan along with a couple days off. Most of us actually live together and we have practice twice a week. We're together a lot but it's also really hard to sit down and be creative when you're in that go mode all of the time or living in a house together. We wanted to set aside some actual time to just be creative and see what happened. When we had those off days, we thought we'd get away to this cabin to see what happens.

Analogue: Is that weird that you can live with these people and be around them all the time and still need to get away to write?

Taylor: I thought that at first. Even when we were making plans to go, it wasn't that I didn't want to do it, but I wasn't sure it was going to change anything. I didn't know if it would work to get away because we're already together all the time. We got there and it was just so different. It makes sense to me now, but when it was happening, it was a surprise. It was a whole other world where I could just sit down and be creative. We could be creative together without talking about band practice or paying bills or going to work. [Laughs]

Analogue: I know you've got some tour dates coming up. What does the rest of 2018 hold for Roanoke?

Taylor: We're honestly just doing a lot of touring. We've got a new booking agent and we've got shows up through early October now. We'll take a little break for the holidays but we're mostly on the road. From there, we want to get into the studio pretty soon.