This Portland, Oregon group are not easy to pigeonhole, as they veer from mellow but dark pop songs to completely skronky improvisation. With male and female vocals, a variety of instruments, and a willingness to throw electronics into the blend, Rollerball are a highly creative entity.
The quartet of vocalist Mae Starr, bassist Mini Wagonwheel, guitarist/vocalist Herman Jolly, and drummer Gilles formed the group in the early 90s in Montana where they had all grown up. In 1994 Starr, Wagonwheel, and Jolly moved to Portland, and soon after they convinced Gilles to join them. At the time Rollerball?s music was conventional power pop and they even released a couple cassettes over the next few years. However everyone in the band except Jolly were getting bored with the restrictions of this type of music, and by 1997 he was ousted from the group. The trio released the CD Garlic later that year. By now trumpeter, vocalist and clarinetist S. De Leon S, another friend of theirs from Montana, who had recently relocated to Portland from San Diego, joined the group, and the quartet recorded the one-sided 12 -- Schizherue at the studios of KBOO, Portland's community radio station. In 1998 the group recorded the LP We Owned Lions, a dramatic leap forward as the group delved far more into experimental improvisation and much less on structured songs. Both records featured covers hand-screened and designed by the band, whose interests include painting and printing.
The group became a quintet when saxophonist Amanda Mason Miles joined in 1999 to help push them further in an avant-garde improvisational direction. By 2000 they had signed with Portland's Road Cone label, and have released several CDs since then. The group records and mixes the material on these more recent releases in the basement of a house, where they live communally. They have also played numerous live shows in the Northwest and nationally over the past several years as well. ~ Rolf Semprebon