Rollo Ellis has just released his third album entitled Songs From Under the Stares and will be touring the record in support. Admittedly, before the interview I hadn’t heard of Rollo, but from having a chat to him, he has led a rockstar lifestyle. After growing up in Detroit and playing in bands throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Rollo moved out to Australia in the early 2000s after meeting the love of his life.
The new album from Ellis was a while in the making, but finally upon its release Ellis is happy that these ideas have finally made it to record. “These songs have been kicking around for a while and I tried many different things to finish them, but finally after being put in touch with Luke Tylim, who produced the record, things started coming together,” Ellis said.
Songs From Under the Stares, the third release in a decade, sees a different take, with a full band arrangement this time around. “My first two albums were self-produced and I had to unfortunately resort to drum machines and synthesisers. This album is totally organic and we had a rule going into the recordings – no cut and paste, no sampling, no punch ins, and we stuck to all those rules. You can really hear that in these songs.”
One of the main features of the album is the Tear Drop Tattoo trilogy that tells the story of doing time in jail, and although Ellis has never been to jail, he filled me in on the story. “If you’ve seen those people in the US with those teardrops tattooed to their eyes, that means they have done hard time in prison. One tattoo equates to a five-year stint, and that trilogy of songs was inspired by some really deep hard times I was having,” Ellis said.
Having played music in bands for the best part of four decades, Ellis has experienced all facets of the music industry. The reason that Ellis fell into playing music was courtesy of his uncle gifting him an awesome record collection.
“Every Sunday, my uncle would come around for a family dinner and each week he would bring a vinyl record with him for me. There was a whole stack of different genres and musicians from different periods, but I was really drawn to the rock and roll and blues. I loved Led Zeppelin and The Beatles and I got given 50 albums a year from the time I was seven to 17-years-old. That, combined with an excellent community radio station, led to me picking up the guitar.
“I moved to L.A. for fifteen years and gave up playing music and turned into the business side of things, before I met the love of my life and moved out here. June 1 marks 11 years I have lived in Australia, and every single moment has been fantastic.”
With plans to take this album on the road all over the country, be sure to check it out when he comes to a town near you. It’s bluesy with a folk rock influence, which presents a true storyteller in his element.
Written by Tex Miller