We Roll Like Madmen

We Roll Like Madmen’s latest single “Always Late” finds the Atlanta based band’s signatures on full display. They have a full-length album out this October, and the single has notes of precision that takes unexpected twists to new heights with the finest production they’ve managed to date. Much like the music they make, their path has been anything but standard. As part of the Post-Echo family, We Roll Like Madmen have redefined expectations while taking risks creatively. Here’s our recent conversation with the band.

We’re big fans of bands or acts with strikingly descriptive names. What’s the story behind it for you all?

We based our name on the classic Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood episode “How to Roll like a Mad Man” in which the indomitable Rodgers takes on a local neighborhood gang of ne’er do wells through the power of break dancing. He eventually loses but teaches the gang leader, played by Lambchop, a valuable lesson about sportsmanship and gang violence. We always liked how Mr. Rogers danced and felt he would have had a better shot at beating Lambchop if he had better music to dance to, so we formed the band.

When people think about the South, especially the stretch of Atlanta to Athens, the last thing they consider is electronic music, but it seems to be burgeoning there now. What’s the scene like for that right now? Is there a solid core of peers popping up?

We’re friends with a number of close-knit pockets of artists across the Carolinas and Georgia. I think there’s a resilient persistence on the DIY side of the electronic stuff, and we’ve seen a shift towards non-traditional venues for the weirdest flavors.

Related to that, do you think coming from that region gives you different influences or a unique look at electronic music?

Southern hip-hop in particular is a pillar of our personal listening habits. Atlanta hip-hop is always mutating and bass sounds dominate the radio, so it’s easy to pick up influences that inform new ways forward for electronic music. The same DIY mentality that dominates the Southeast’s hip-hop and rock scenes translates to the artists making electronic music in the area. There isn’t a nationally recognized electronic music community like Los Angeles or New York or Chicago so that do or die approach breeds a sense of adventure and genre-fluidity in all music that we feel a kinship with.

Some of the footage we’ve seen of your shows have a feel of an underground indie rock or hip-hop show. What’s the energy like for you all during those moments?

We write a lot with the live performance in mind because we’re trying to make electronics exciting even for those unfamiliar. With dance music moving out of pitch-black clubs and onto concert stages, we want to bring an energy that can fill that space. The danger of a live show going off the rails is what makes live music exciting, and we want electronic music to keep that unpredictability as it moves into the spotlight.

You all seem to be taking the descriptions and tongue-in-cheek musical comparisons in stride. How do you handle the weight when names like SBTRKT and Disclosure get mentioned?

There is nothing new under Gucci Mane. As long as we’re doing our best version of Guwop the comparisons won’t bother us.

“Always Late” bobs and weaves, feels like a sprint at times, but also knows when to breathe, and goes through a variety of changes in five minutes. What’s your all’s creation process like that allows for the music seem so structured yet so free-form at the same time?

A lot of our songs have a stream-of-conscious strand through them that call for adventurous jumps. We’ve built our sound around being malleable and keeping it moving. Walking the line between expectation and surprise is important to dance music. The live performance is always in our mind while writing, so songs have to contain the freedom for improvisation as well as those special moments we can build a narrative around while performing.

We really dig the vocal minimalism where everything seems to find their perfecting resting place on the track. Do you all have a specific method to finding these balances within your music?

Every song of ours is different, so finding that balance is key. We have a lot of experience making tracks with forefronted vocals, but we’ve been experimenting with different contexts for vocals, some more minimal.

Finally, the full-length will be out in October. Are there any plans for a tour or more festivals around that time? Or what else do you all have in store?

We just moved to Atlanta so our focus this year is on finding our place in the city’s scene as well as giving this album the room it needs to breathe. We’re playing a new festival in Greenville called Future Chord Fest this August and will have some shows in Georgia and South Carolina before the end of the year. We’re gearing up for more regional dates and a national tour come 2017, so this year is all about preparing a new audio/visual live show and spreading the music as far as possible.