Introducing Rolin Humes, from Croatia
Live, Grow, Flourish
If anybody asked you were in the world to look for fantastic unsigned music; assuming you are English speaking, you might expect to hear answers like U.S.A., Canada, Britain, Australia; well you’d probably assume an English speaking country at the very least.
So when I first heard Rolin Humes being played on XRP radio and decided I needed to find out more about them I was pretty surprised to find out that they were from Croatia. Not flabbergasted, because ultimately, why not?
English speaking countries have never had a monopoly on great music, nor is it a huge surprise to hear Eastern Europeans speaking perfect English, it is of course something of a lingua franca, not least in the world of international music.
But it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that this band; which sounds a lot like they might be from New Jersey, or New York; turns out to be from a small country on the crossroads between, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean.
I Don’t Know What I don’t Wanna Know, and I Don’t Go Where I Don’t Wanna Go, by Rolin Humes, from their Soundcloud page
The first song I heard was called “I don’t know what I don’t wanna know and I don’t go where I don’t wanna go” and is, just like its title, considerably longer than the usual, at an astonishing eighteen minutes eighteen seconds. Hence at least one suggestion that they are a prog band. But there is nothing really prog about Rolin Humes, barring the occasional long song. In fact the artist they most remind me of is Billy Joel, with lots of soaring tenor vocals, intricate piano accompaniment, and enough light and shade for a pencil drawing of Judgement Day.
Another guest in the XRP chatbox said they made him think of Queen, and I am still trying to hear what he means, funnily enough as I write that the song goes into a really heavy guitar solo with hints of Brian May about it, that is around six minutes into the track. But then it stops and goes into a bit of “do-be-do-be-do” followed by an incredibly slow and melodic guitar solo that smacks of Dire Straits, at their most introspective, think “Telegraph Road” here.
I’ve listened to this song a whole bunch of times, and it is still growing on me. The first time I listened to it I was completely oblivious to the fact that I had been listening to it for about five minutes and it wasn’t even half way through. You know the way all .wav forms on Soundcloud are the same length? Yet at no time does it FEEL like a long song. Sometimes a long song seems to go on too long at first listening but then, as you get to know it, it seems to be too short, for example the full length version of Freebird.
I remember a Billy Joel song (The Entertainer) in which he sings “It was a beautiful song but it ran too long – If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit – so they cut it down to three-oh-five” (a reference to Piano Man which Columbia Records edited for radio play) but that is the price the artist (and the listener) pays for getting signed to a major record label. The artist knows how long the song should go on for, they know if there should be a middle eight, or a hook, or a break, or a solo, only the artist knows what the artist is trying to achieve, only the artist knows how many verses they need to fit in, or how many lyrics are required to tell the story, but along comes the record company boss, or the A&R man and tells them they have to cut it down so that it can be played on the radio.
When Pink Floyd recorded “Another Brick In The Wall” the A&R guys were excited that this could be a single. “Just add in another verse.” they pleaded, and we could have a number one. But Waters and pals refused. Away went the execs, and when the band were on tour they spliced the short song into a longer one, hence the repeated verse, and they got some kids to sing it, and YES they did have a huge number one but it was not what the band had wanted.
Anyway, I want to post this now even though I have tons more I would like to say. I’ve spent ages on it already, saved it and gone out, come back and written some more, listened to “I Don’t Know ….” twice already as well as other tracks, and I’m pretty sure I will be coming back to Rolin Humes again in the near future.
I would dearly love to hear your comments about this band, or any others I have written about. Alternatively if you think there is a better band I should know about, I’d love you to post a link.
I delete all spam mercilessly, but if it is about unsigned bands then it stays.