Interview With Hamilton Noise Metal Band Rolodex Darko
Before we get into this article, I’m going to give you a warning. I get sent a whole lot of Canadian music videos and this is definitely one of the more disturbing ones I’ve seen this year, so if your not looking for that kind of thing today, maybe just stick to the interview. Rolodex Darko are a noise metal band from Hamilton that formed in 2019. They describe their sound as a singular brand of violent, unorthodox noise. Led by the dynamic vocals of Roberta “Bob” Stan, a former choir singer, the band fuse alternative, experimental, and hardcore music with brutal energy and theatrical live performances. Lyrically, the band cover diverse subjects—death, humour, power, and religion, among others—through the lens of female empowerment.
In August 2020, rolodex darko recorded two songs at Jukasa Studios, in Ohsweken, Ontario, with producer Darren “Jeter” Magierowski (Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats, Protest the Hero). One of those songs being Slut Queen, which in itself is a really cool experimental piece of art, cramming in an incredible amount sounds and influences from a variety of genres into the 3:50 long track. The video definitely made me ask “can you show that in a video?” a question I don’t have to ask very often, which in my opinion is metal as hell. If you’re looking for a Canadian artist who’s not afraid to push boundaries, you’ve come to the right place. I had the opportunity to interview Rolodex Darko and the band talks about their new songs, their theatrics, upcoming shows, tour and music videos and more! Click below to watch Slut Queen and keep scrolling for our interview.
Interview with Rolodex Darko
How would you describe Rolodex Darko to someone who’s never heard it?
Bob: You know how Alexisonfire described their sound as “two catholic school girls in a knife fight?” rolodex darko is the tingling of hair rising on your skin, a skipped heartbeat, tightness in your throat.
Rolodex Darko fuses alternative, experimental, and hardcore music with brutal energy and theatrical live performances. How did you come to mix all these elements together?
Bob: That’s just a mix of everybody’s interests. I put a lot of my own energy into each performance, and I have a theatrical background – I majored in theatre studies at the University of Waterloo.
Alex: Yep. It’s not a conscious mixture. We didn’t sit around and devise a scheme to blend those elements. It just happened when we played together.
Then, to maintain the music’s authenticity, we don’t tinker with it. We don’t try to make it something else that’s more “marketable”, or more “heavy”, or whatever. We let it be. © The Beatles.
Can you tell us about the lyrics behind Slut Queen, and how you guys took it from an idea to a finished product?
Bob: The band sent me demos of the instrumentals, and I went from there. A great thing about being classified as “experimental noise” is that I have the freedom to do anything that comes to mind, whether it’s slam poetry breaking the fourth wall or belting about blowjobs to my little heart’s content.
What inspires the theatrics in Rolodex Darko?
Bob: The theatrics are pulled directly from what I learned during my studies. Whether that’s Samuel Beckett, a chinese opera about a drunken concubine, Dadaism, or how art should be an experience for the viewer. (Thanks John Dewey.)
For the most part, music seems a lot less… shocking than it used to. What do you think has lead to that and do you think a change is coming?
Bob: I think a change is coming. People are getting tired of the same formulas, the same generic guitar tones and boring lyrics.
Alex: In part, it’s due to the crystallization of Walter Benjamin’s suggestion that, in the age of mechanical reproduction, exhibition value undergirds artistic productions. Concomitantly, ‘politics’ becomes the guiding principle for art’s form and content. Art becomes less “shocking” because it’s only designed to “shock” insofar as it has exhibition value – i.e. it will sell – which means it can’t really “shock” at all. On a broader level, it’s due to the widespread conception that performativity, in a Lyotardian sense, is neutrality, or at least justifiable as an unmarked standard. Part of our project is bucking that trend, instilling cult value into art through singular demos and one-off live performances, among others.
In 2020 you recorded Slut Queen as well as Blind In The Valley of Suicides at Jukasa Studios, in Ohsweken, Ontario, with producer Darren “Jeter” Magierowski. How was the experience?
Alex: What can I say? It was magical.
Bob: In this band, I’m experiencing a lot of ‘firsts’ and that was the first time I’ve ever been in a studio to record music. It was incredible, we did a lot of it off the floor with very few overdubs. In doing that, we kept the same energy we use during performances. I was able to dance around while singing which was a huge help to ease my nerves. Darren was incredible to meet and to work with. He understood how nervous I was and we had a landline-landline conversation before I had even met him to discuss how everything would go down once we got there. As somebody who overthinks about everything and questions themselves, it was SO comforting. I absolutely am so thankful for the opportunity to work with Darren and Jill!
What is your favourite memory from the studio?
Bob: The first time I heard my vocals through those speakers, or even the first time I heard our unfinished product in the studio – I was speechless. I have never experienced having my work or my art shown back to me and I was SHOCKED. “That’s me?” I asked. “Yes,” they replied. Wow. I always thought I was an average vocalist, having only trained in high school music lessons with my teacher Mrs. Claessens (Who continues to be a huge influence to me, I may add.).
What can you tell us about Blind In The Valley of Suicides?
Bob: Be prepared.
Which three bands would you say have influenced the sound of your music the most?
Bob: Lingua Ignota, Glassjaw, Diamanda Galas
Alex: Buckethead, Devin Townsend, John Zorn
What outside of other music inspires you to write?
Bob: I’ll admit. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and that is one of my biggest inspirations. I tend to really dig into how I’m feeling emotionally, bringing the anger and mood swings into the music. Or I talk about my past in the church and how that has influenced me to become the person I am today. I’ve done a lot of crazy things that I haven’t even touched on, and I have a lot of opinions on Love.
Which three Canadian bands do you think you’ve listened to the most in 2021?
Alex: Anna Pest, Gris, William Shatner
You’ve got a tour that was postponed that is being replanned for 2022 and you must be so excited for it. Do you remember the feeling of finding out everything was being cancelled? And what does it feel like now knowing that the shows are coming back?
Bob: I’m so excited! It will be my first tour in a band and all I want to do is be stinky in a van! I remember the devastation of losing everything from this pandemic. Theatre’s have been closed for almost two years and it’s only now that venues are slowly reopening. What’s worse is that a lot of them didn’t make it, or barely made it through.
What else do you have planned for 2022?
Bob: New Music Video for BLIND IN THE VALLEY OF SUICIDES and maybe new merch? We’re still discussing.
Alex: We’ve also got three shows from February 10-12 in Toronto, Oshawa, and Hamilton, respectively. Check our social media for deets.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the pandemic?
Bob: Patience pays off.
Do you have any last words for our readers?
Bob: Pay attention to our posters in 2022. There may be some secret messages from me. 😉