The Rooftops
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The Rooftops

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Band Pop Reggae

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Press


"Storm Season Launch Review"

“Every dark nook and supercool cranny of the Press Club was occupied tonight as The Rooftops launched their debut album, Storm Season. It was a mere 10 months ago that the band first unleashed their unique sound, but tonight they had no problem demonstrating why they can fill a venue to capacity. Opening with the album’s title track the four members whipped up a storm of their own, with eager punters kneeling on bar stools to catch a glimpse of the much-beloved home grown band. Listening to lead singer/saxophonist Euan crooning delectably about storms of the warmer months you just know this is going to be mandatory summer listening. The Rooftops perfected the album and their ‘Brisbane sound’ during a six month residency at the Bowery, from which they’ve obviously garnered quite a following. The Rooftops have none of the pretensions of pop, all the heart of soul, the danceable beats of groove and reggae and the lovability of a band from our own backyard. Team this with a great stage presence, acute musicality, a fabulous horn section and members that are particularly easy on the eye and you’ve got a band most definitely on the rise. Watch out Slackers, move over Cat Empire, we’re taking it to The Rooftops! - Rave Magazine


"Triple J Unearthed Review - Making Photographs"

"This tune is definately one my favourite songs of this summer. It's so cruisy and full of sunshine, I can't help myself singing along to it every time! Making Photographs always make me smile and bounce around like a lil' kid when I hear it - can't wait to see where these boys take it!" - Triple J Unearthed


"Storm in a Teacup"

ECLECTIC JAZZ-INFLUENCED ROOTS ENSEMBLE THE ROOFTOPS HAVE HONED THEIR LIVE PERFORMANCE TO PERFECTION OVER THE COURSE OF A THREE-YEAR RESIDENCY AT BRISBANE’S THE BOWERY – BUT SAXOPHONIST RAFAEL KARLEN TELLS MATT O’NEILL THE BAND ARE PERPETUALLY ON THE BRINK OF CHAOS.

Brisbane-based actor, director, composer and writer Eugene Gilfedder once observed that Brisbane city was unique among Australian cities in that, despite (or perhaps because) of its reputation for conservatism and artistic stagnation, it has almost always been in some form of perpetual motion. The artistic community of Brisbane is always active and always concocting new projects – artists, bands and collectives collaborating and interbreeding to create exciting new works. One needs only look at the evolution of a band like The Gin Club – comprising a revolving roster of any number of independent Brisbane songwriters and musicians – to see the city’s ever-evolving artistic community in action.

That said, it isn’t difficult to see how such an impermanent communal culture could create complications for a band like multifaceted roots outfit The Rooftops. An eclectic ensemble guided by band-leader, frontman and saxophonist Euan Gray, The Rooftops’ broad stylistic oeuvre (touching upon everything from jazz to funk to reggae) has long demanded an expansive line-up of seasoned and professional musicians but, in a city of unceasing musical movements, such demands can be difficult to meet. It’s a reality the band had to address recently when they embarked on their inaugural interstate tour to perform a clutch of dates in Adelaide – the band juggling six separate schedules to organise the journey.

“All the players are always involved in lots of different projects,” saxophonist Rafael Karlen explains of the band’s difficulty – he himself having just completed a CD and tour with the West End Composers Collective earlier in the year. “It’s always hard to get everyone in the same place but everyone’s committed. It’s always an uphill battle with original music but that just gives you more of a drive. Touring’s always hard, and when you have a band with twice as many members as a regular band, it’s particularly hard but if everyone’s into the same project – you’ll find a way to do it. I joined the band about three years ago but it’s fun. It’s a real treat for me.”

While such an establishment would wear on many musicians, Karlen is quick to emphasise that The Rooftops thrive in such chaotic scenarios. The Rooftops may be renowned as a smooth and effervescent reggae/funk group on account of releases like 2006 long-player Storm Season or recently released EP Clean Dirt but it is the sextet’s explosive live performances that truly reward both The Rooftops and their audiences. The ensemble is comprised of a series of seasoned improvisers and, after three years performing a weekly residency at Fortitude Valley’s The Bowery, can confidently construct any manner of free-wheeling live performance.

“We’ve all known each other since 2002,” Karlen reports. “I used to just come down and jam with them every week and eventually they let me in the band. I think it was largely a case of ‘Well, here is again – let’s let him in the band’. It’s been an absolute gift to have that weekly gig at The Bowery because, in an environment like that, you really feel safe to try new things and the band really thrives on that spontaneity. I know a lot of songs are born at the gig and a lot of ideas are workshopped and refined at the gig. I mean that’s just so much fun for me, as a musician, to do and it makes the band such a fun band for its members. There aren’t many bands that really get the opportunity to do that sort of thing – to just take off and do whatever, you know? It’s a real luxury to play like that. It’s something I think we’re almost in danger of taking for granted.” - Time Off Magazine


"Review of Jive gig"

After the proverbial Romper Room shitstorm that was our opening act (aaah don’tcha just love it?) our second act brings with it a welcome dose of rest and relaxation. They’re like the musical equivalent of a giant beanbag, a bucket bong, a jumbo bag of Doritos and a boxset of BBC bird documentaries. Yup in the most hallucinogenic of terms that is the raw potency of The Rooftops. Or in slightly more coherent terms they hark back to a bygone area of early nineties acid jazz. Understandably most of you midgets wouldn’t have the foggiest clue what the fuck I’m on about, so a refresher course may be in order. When I think of The Rooftops I think of such bands as The Stereo MCs, the first two Massive Attack albums (especially the looser grooves you’d find in “Blue Lines”), a little bit of Groove Armada at their dopest and dare I say it one of those rare instances where mentioning both Jamiroquai and The Cat Empire in the same sentence ISN’T classified as an absolute insult but brings with it nothing but fond memories. Yup quite like Sir Gerbil before them, this clearly makes them an anachronism, almost laughably so, but no less welcoming in our time of need, in fact only more so! Yeah I know, in any other time I’d be poking mad fun at this shit. I mean I never really appreciated all that hippy crap that was coming out of Sydney back in the nineties, but THIS band gives me newfound appreciation. They’re a gateway drug through and through. I hear elements of D.I.G. (Directions In Groove), a little bit of Wicked Beat Sound System, maybe even a touch of the Supreme Beings Of Leisure from LA. The only difference here is that none of this shit is synthetic: it’s all organic, authentic, home grown and well baked like a fresh batch of “funny brownies“. In song after song of the loosest looping grooves you’ll imagine scenes of endless fields of green, soft sands warmed by a summer sun, crashing waves fit for surfing, bearded goons living off the grid with their post graduate girlfriends, and all those ecclectic granola grooves you could hope to find in an afternoon well spent at Womadelaide. No shit, it makes me want to don an oversized woolen beanie like a technicolour tea-cosy, smash that Bob Marley something fierce and play endless rounds of barefoot hacky sack with backpacker tourists and drug dealers. It’s such a mad buzz! I mean sure, the band performing this bliss may appear to be utterly emaciated and world weary to a fault (like they’re slowly starving to death). Their lead singer especially is practically a walking skeleton as he sways back and forth behind that microphone stand, saxaphone at hand, like he’s two kilo’s short of a Third World relief fund: but you sense true peace behind those sunken eyes that’s missing from so many other bands. And once you hear it yourself you can begin to understand how they’ve thrived for this long. They’re all about the buzz. They’re the ultimate in zen. They draw you in, despite yourself: hook, line and sinker. And as potentially hokey as that may be: that’s still a dream well worth believing in! - Spoz's Rant


"Clean Dirt Review"

Three years after their first release, this amiable Brisbane outfit have finally released a follow-up; not quite an album at 32 minutes, but close enough. And though I knew the band’s reputation for good vibes, for some reason, I expected the opener Lest We Forget to be a more sombre affair than it is (well, Anzac Day wasn’t so long ago). Instead, from the first horn-assisted, feet-friendly, infectious groove, it was unmistakably the kind of sunny sound that encourages smiles. And that’s despite the more serious anti-war themes in the lyrics. It’s also clear why The Rooftops get compared to Melbourne’s Cat Empire. There’s a summery shimmer here, not overly sweaty but with a certain warm glow, regularly given a coastal reggae vibe that sounds like you should be breaking out the Hawaiian shirts. But behind the tropical flavour, there’s a combination of jazz playfulness and seriousness at work here, made clear on the jam-like History Of Beating Hearts, where the spotlight swings to various members to solo. With vocalist/saxophonist Euan Gray riding this breezy party groove with an almost laconic, Aussie inflected delivery, you can tell this is a band who’ve raised a few roofs in their time. - Rave Magazine


"Clean Dirt Review"

Jovial Brisbane funk/reggae/roots outfit, The Rooftops recently launched its new EP, Clean Dirt, to a rousing crowd at The Troubadour swaying appreciatively to the bouncing bass and bluesy beats. Vocalist and tenor saxophonist Euan Gray lends his soothing tones to the seven laidback tracks that compose Clean Dirt which follows on from The Rooftops’ debut album, Storm Season. The group describes its latest offering as, ‘ A fresh journey of barefooted soul seraching and deep-rooted groove’. Fans of The Cat Empire will appreciate the summery sound and infectious rythms that wander jubilantly throughout each track. - MAP Magazine


"Clean Dirt Launch Review"

Launching their new EP Clean Dirt tonight, The Rooftops get everyone up on their feet with a snappy instrumental before launching into the reggae-licious title track. Frontman/saxophonist Euan Gray has both presence and crowd command down pat, managing to successfully combine lyrical righteousness (Textbook Heroes, the anti-war Lest We Forget and Cambodian genocide-themed Rice) with rootsy swagger (Long Way Home, It’s A Perfect Day, This Is The Way), while the Roofies’ radiant horns parp and blare in pure Cat Empire fashion. There’s enough funky drummer shuffle and juicy bass along the way to satisfy anyone’s inner James Brown fan; fired up by the combo’s irrepressible grooves, the swingin’ party goes through the roof. - Rave Magazine


"Carbon Neutral Gig"

RACHEL SURGEONER chats with THE ROOFTOPS frontman and saxophonist EUAN GRAY on bathwater, being Carbon Neutral and what makes their special blend of pop-funk-dub so unique.

Brisbane prodigies The Rooftops are headed for big things, and making the small things count. Witness the band hosting The Zoo’s first ever carbon neutral gig on June 27. According to my new understanding of what it means to be ‘carbon neutral’, it’s not the latest fad diet or some crazy new music genre or even a new form of pulling shapes. Neither will they be decking out The Zoo with greenhouse mesh, but rather supporting NSW-based company Easy Being Green by donating money raised at the gig to offset omissions created by holding a gig in the first place. It’s actually all very interesting; the company offers specific packages for musicians which are apparently quite unlike many carbon-offsetting companies. Euan explains, “With Easy Being Green, they’ve worked out average usages of bands for gigs, albums, or tours, so all you have to do is click a button and pay. It’s about $20 per tonne, so we are probably overshooting our expected emissions and going for the ‘medium size gig’ package, which is about 2.5 tonnes. The offsetting will be done in our case by their street teams installing energy efficient light bulbs and water saving showerheads in houses, probably in NSW.”

Euan even reckons The Zoo could become a carbon neutral venue for less than $50 per gig – it could be made like an integrated ‘tax’ into the ticket price. Being carbon neutral could very well be the new black.

The Rooftops aren’t your average green thumbs, in fact Euan has had his finger in the energy saving pie for a while, having worked in an alternative energy organisation and being inspired by bands like John Butler Trio and Cat Empire, who were some of the first Aussie bands to offset their emissions. The Rooftops are tuned to the carbon neutral pulse and keen to start saving waves in the Brisbane scene. Not only is the talented frontman energy conscious, he saves his bathwater too! “I’m filling in the council water usage booklet to see if we are in the 140L club. It turns out we use half of our ration, but then again, I should probably do more washing.”

The band has grown from a four piece of sax, keys, drums and bass to a six piece, now also featuring two horns. Their live show promises to be an intensely cathartic hoot (through the roof, even). When they aren’t warming up for big bang shows, the band is preparing for a new EP, Better Days, to be released in the summer of 2007.

Be part of something bigger and check out The Rooftops in their groovy and free Easy Being Green t-shirts. Euan says “The lights won’t be dimmer and we’ll be just as loud!” - Rave Magazine


Discography

Storm Season (LP) 2006, Independent
Making Photographs (single) 2006 - recieved regular Triple J Airplay

Clean Dirt (EP) 2009, Independent
Single, 'Lest We Forget' recieved regular Triple J airplay

Photos

Bio

“There's a herd of great new bands coming out of Brisbane, and The Rooftops are in the leading pack” Bill Hauritz – Woodford Folk Festival Director.

Listening to The Rooftops is like having a holiday. It's uplifting, its refreshing, its exciting. Its dancing barefoot in the streets on an excursion through influences of soul, jazz, reggae and pop – always heading home.

With their infectious, feet-friendly grooves, soulful, storytelling vocals and sun-drenched vibes, The Rooftops set out to engage and inspire their audiences with meaningful and moving music. They have been delivering for nearly five years.

Since their recent, highly-acclaimed debut at Woodford Folk Festival, the band has been busy preparing for their third studio CD. They have enlisted soul legend, vocal coach and fellow Woodford favourite, Mr Percival, to produce the album, which will be recorded in Sydney in July.

They first met Percival in May 2009, backstage at The Planting Festival, and a few inspired conversations later, they were working together.. By the time he joined them on stage for their encore on New Years Eve at the biggest tent at Woodford, the whole band were singing backups – as was the crowd.

Well known in Brisbane from their four-year residency at The Bowery (voted best bar in Australia), The Rooftops are also regulars in the festival scene, having featured at the Brisbane Festival, Noosa Jazz Festival and Ipswich Festival, among others. They have also made a few successful forays interstate, including to the recent Fuse Festival in Adelaide.

With two Triple J hits in the bag from their two previous albums, it is with great enthusiasm and expectation that they will be embarking on their first National tour to promote the first single from the album in October. Until then, they will continue to add to their impressive list of supports and headline shows in and around Brisbane.