For the past eight years, Atlanta’s We Roll Like Madmen has created electronic music so lush and layered that it’s difficult to believe there are only two people in the group. But Chris Tollack and Jordan Young are indeed the heart of WRLM, creating what they call “psychedelic dance” music.
Onstage, the pair have always been just as conscious of their visual presentation as of the music itself, and their shows often feature dynamic light shows or a projection screen flashing random images or patterns while they work their magic on synthesizers, samplers, and drum pads.
It’s an immersive sort of approach to electronic music, where Tollack and Young pay just as much attention to constructing a propulsive set or conveying an aesthetic as they do their pounding, infectiously danceable beats. It’s a sound that has gained WRLM a fervent following around the Southeast, and a particularly strong one in the Upstate. But after nearly a decade of working together, We Roll Like Madmen have decided to pull the plug, and they’ll be playing their final show at the Radio Room in Greenville on Saturday night.
“This is something we started when we were audio students at Clemson, and we kind of fashioned a niche for ourselves,” Young says. “We played a lot around the Upstate and in Columbia, Charleston, and Asheville, and we had a thing going in Atlanta here for a while. We got around, made a lot of friends, and we really appreciate what this project allowed us to do. But we feel like it’s served its purpose, we both have careers going, and it’s time to clear the canvas and see what happens.”
The duo’s move to Atlanta two years ago actually started the dissolution of the band.
“When we first moved down here, we stopped putting a lot of initiative into actively booking shows,” Young says. “We took things as they came, and we eventually stopped accepting offers and decided it was just time to call it a day.”
The decision came largely because both Young and Tollack had new separate careers. Young is now a communications and programming assistant at South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, and Tollack is the production manager at Spivey Hall, a jazz and classical concert venue at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia. So when TPP Events, the promoters who booked the Radio Room show, contacted them about performing, both men saw it as the perfect chance to say goodbye.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to close it out,” Young says, “and anyone who wanted to come see us one last time could do that and kind of relish that experience. We definitely recognized that a lot of our early shows were at the Radio Room, and Greenville was a great place for us to build an actual fan base. And that allowed us to start playing other cities and build a network, and we’re definitely appreciative of how supportive our Upstate fans were.”
We Roll Like Madmen has had a lot of influence on the local electronic music scene, and TPP Events is actually a direct result of that influence. The “TPP” stands for The Parlor Pinks, a Greenville electronic music duo who took some of their musical and visual cues from Young and Tollack.
“They’re kind of like the OGs to me when it comes to blending electronica with a more rock sound and having a visual element,” says The Parlor Pinks’ Ash Foster-Lee. “They’ve always been at the forefront of that idea; just two people up there, doing so much to convey the physical feel of the music and the visual feel of it. They’re a really immersive experience, and that’s what we want The Parlor Pinks to be.”
TPP Events was born when The Parlor Pinks had trouble finding shows, and Foster-Lee and his musical partner Rachel Clark finally decided to create shows themselves and invite other regional electronic acts with a similar aesthetic to join them.
“We were having to work really hard for opportunities to play because we didn’t fit in,” Foster-Lee says. And creating shows was always something I had an interest in; I liked the idea of concept nights and installations and different things we wanted to mash up. We’re flying by the seat of our pants, but it seems to be working so far, and I’m pretty elated to be able to say that we’re having We Roll Like Madmen come and play their final show with us.”
What: TPP Events presents Spaced Out Fest: A Benefit for Safe Harbor, w/ Mourning Dove, Wolfgang Wallace, Manifest Sons, Rogg Collins, Apache!, The Parlor Pinks, Poet Radio, Glass Mansions, and We Roll Like Madmen
When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15
Where: Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway, Greenville
Info: 864-609-4441, www.radioroomgreenville.com