Robert Roth

Robert Roth


Poetic, catchy songwriting and vocals with celestial guitars that slide along in woozy bliss, then viscerally rip open a moment later. Analog synths, mellotron, strings, and horns flood even the darkest moments with warmth and light. Lush and evocative.


Former Truly (Sub Pop, Capitol) frontman Robert Roth’s solo debut, "Someone, Somewhere", is an uncompromising statement of artistic dedication. Roth’s soulful drawl and unshakeable soaring melodies weave together washes of haunted guitars, mellotron-soaked soundscapes, and warped orchestral passages into an ageless epic that differentiates itself from imitations. A recent feature in Devil in the Woods Magazine hailed Someone, Somewhere as a “truly timeless creation,” and said “Roth’s work overwhelms listeners one moment, then pacifies them in starkly bare passages seconds later. It echoes nearly every great blast of sound from the past 50 years, not in the order of its chords, but in its ability to shake listeners from their complacency.”
While the DIY ethic may have been gutted by empty sloganeering, Roth still keeps the faith. The more people stacked between the ether of an artist’s inspiration and the shiny record sitting in front of you, the more meaning you lose in translation. For Someone, Somewhere, Roth made sure the path from concept to execution was as short as possible. Pattern 25 Records gave him the time, space, and trust to work on his own terms. Over the course of three years, Roth lived every element of the album’s creation – put together his own studio, wrote every note and lyric, played nearly every instrument and pushed each button or dial along the way.
The result of this unadulterated expression hits like a tall shot of something pure and strong. Roth’s celestial guitars slide along in woozy bliss, then viscerally rip open a moment later. Analog synths, mellotron, strings, and horns flood even the darkest moments with warmth and light. Time seems to come unhinged as the album’s seventy plus minutes flash by but songs patiently linger on incidental details, lovingly laid under a wall of sound. Someone, Somewhere pulses with the unmistakable electricity of nonconformity and self-taught mastery that has always driven rock and roll. The limits of sound and recording technology are pushed and prodded because no one was around to scare Roth away from daring them.
Equal parts Brian Wilson detail, Flaming Lips experimentation, Spiritualized bombast, and Tom Verlaine geometry, Roth expands upon the sonic frontiers he previously claimed as the singer-guitarist-composer-producer of Seattle’s Truly. After two EPs on Sub Pop, Truly (featuring Screaming Trees’ alum Mark Pickerel and founding Soundgarden member Hiro Yamamoto) inked a mid 90s deal with Capitol Records. Truly’s debut, Fast Stories...From Kid Coma, was widely hailed as one of 1995’s finest releases. Despite the absence of a single, MTV Online put it in its top twenty albums of the year. Kerrang Magazine loved it so much they reviewed it twice, giving it the max five stars both times. Seattle’s legendary music rag, the Rocket, looked back at the end of the 90s and called it the scene’s Pet Sounds. Off the momentum of their debut, Truly took its combustible and relentless live show international. When Roth returned home, he contributed mellotron to Built to Spill’s masterwork Perfect from Now On, wrote songs with author/musician Jim Carroll (Basketball Diaries) for Pools of Mercury and the Runaway E.P., and played beside Carroll in a string of sold out live dates. Truly closed the 90s with a newfound pop fetish on Feeling You Up and left the stage for good with Twilight Curtains, an outtakes collection.
On his own for the first time, Roth’s fierce yet elegant songwriting takes center stage. Someone, Somewhere plays like a movie, putting you on a first-name basis with characters like “Vicki and Jacky” as they move between urban decay and gentrification (“Walk All Over Downtown Life”), stumbling into the violence and chaos of Seattle’s millennium-closing WTO riots (“Streetplay ‘99”) into the rolling blackouts for both U.S. Coast’s (“Blackout City Serenade”) via “Halliburton Blues,” and the personal alienation that accompanies living in a world clouded over by the harsh order of 9/11’s cultural aftermath (“Relive These X,” “Under the Ever-Watchful Eye,” and “Yesterday’s War”). Roth’s work is personal but it also connects the personal to the political in the most subtlety persuasive way. Avoiding lectures or preaching, he just recounts the low-level battles creeping everyday outside his front door. Somewhere between Thoreau’s “Walden” and Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” Someone, Somewhere’s ultimate effect is simultaneously unsettling and empowering. It reminds us that there are some compromises we must simply refuse to make.

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Vicki and Jacky

Written By: Robert Roth

Well ain’t it strange that on a night like this Vicki and Jacky in a midnight kiss underneath the street lamp glowing in the mist
where life’s cold cruelty can’t overcome the bliss. Til’ another time when the situation finds us a trillion miles from this place and time where everything seems fine. Lightening flashes and the thunder bursts. It's a warning to the listener that this is gonna hurt. It’s sure to rip your heart out, stomp it in the dirt.
Sometimes life’s cold cruelty just doesn’t seem deserved.
Til’ another time, leaves you guessing why another tragedy, a tragic lie can often turn the tide. Well ain’t it a shame Vicki couldn’t resist a little temptation and temporary bliss. Vicki’s been exposed to a deadly virus It takes that kind of cold cruelty to eliminate the bliss. Vicki said, “Jacky this is really gonna hurt My betrayal was tragic, but this gets even worse
I pray it doesn’t touch you ‘cause you just don’t deserve
to be lying down beside me six feet underneath the dirt..Til’ another time, until another life I swear I’ll keep an eye outfrom the other side forgive me before I die." Well ain’t it strange that on a night like this Vicki and Jacky in a midnight kiss where the ghost of Vicki’s there glowing in the mist where life’s cold cruelty just doesn’t exist... Vicki and Jacky... Vicki and Jacky... Vicki and Jacky...

Streetplay '99

Written By: Robert Roth

Streetplay... who tells the dawn to start?...
to start the streetplay?... From the night to the darkest star. Down on the block,
strolling amidst the strays, I submit myself
to be captured by the unraveling of the plot.
Streetplay... the streetplay is on. There’s room
for dismay due to violent overtones. Everyone
is shocked, intrigued, and enraged, but when
the strangeness wears off it seems so dull and
over played. Streetfight... there’s so much tear
gas in the street, and the plastic bullets hit
the secretaries as they go to eat. Lovers in
the dark when the grip is tight, and those who
do fine with love from strangers loaded in the
night are all caught up in the streetplay on
Broadway. The police were not aware that these people don’t easily scare. Out in front of the record shop and rehearsal space, the people fought for the hill against insane cops and clouds of mace. Everyone is shocked, intrigued, and enraged, but when the strangeness wears off, it seems so dull and overplayed. Street scene... final act... the last solilquy of the last century.

Someone, Somewhere...

Written By: Robert Roth

The previous days victory so far disapates... there's no permanent scar. Spells out a hunger for more as you treachorously manuever the shit on the floor and you come down with the feeling once more... the eternal dread in your head is what we live for. I was glad you came to see me yesterday. The first words from your mouth were such a tragic mistake. To assume I share the same appreciation of the fake. Condescend, pretend... pretend your awake and rise from the ashes too late. Don't follow too slow... don't know... don't hesitate. It would be nice to know someone, somewhere... who knows what you mean. It would be nice to know someone, somewhere... who knows where you've been. It would be nice to knowsomeone, somewhere...someone, somewhere...


Robert Roth solo/"Someone, Somewhere..." 2004 LP
with Jim Carroll/"Runaway EP"2000 EP
with Truly/"Twilight Curtains" 2000 LP
"Feeling You Up" 1998 LP
"Fast Stories from Kid Coma" 1995 LP
"Blue Flame Ford"1995 10 inch EP
"Leslie's Coughing Up Blood" 1993 EP
"Heart and Lungs" 1991 EP

Set List

Vicki and Jacky
The Poison Arrow
Call of the Wild
Blackout City Serenade
Falling Down Laughing
Laugh 'til We Cry
Someone Somewhere
Walk All Over Downtown Life
Blue Flame Ford
Yesterdays War
80 minute set