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QRD #27, august 2004
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Interview with Rollerball July 2004
Rollerball has been around for ten years.  I first found out about them because Shane DeLeon Sauers was doing a zine called Starbage Can & we became fast friends around 1996.  To call them free jazz might be accurate to some people or experimental indie rock might be right to others.  I'm never to sure that they are rock, even though they do rock.  Shane sings & plays clarinet & keyboards, Mae sings & plays keyboards, Mini plays bass.
QRD – Your music seems to glide all over the place from genre to genre.  Is this intentional & how do you describe your music to your day-job co-workers?

Shane – We don't really seem to have a formula, besides democracy and the enthusiasm to not make the same music again and again.  I am hard pressed to find a genre in which I do not like someone or something.  Even new country has some good simple melodies.  Experimentation and the ability to follow a path or mood is a good quality in Rollerball.  We just write and jam and keep the good stuff.  I say we're a rock band who likes jazz and noise, with female and male harmonies and horns.

Mae – I suppose our music being all over the place is intentional, as we all say a million times we love all types of music and have never wanted to pigeon hole ourselves into a certain type. The beauty of this is all the different bands we get to play with on tour because no one knows where to put us. I work in a salon with a high turn over, cosmetologists are the outcasts of society, a lot of them are artistic but don’t know how to focus their art. I use all these freaks I work with for inspiration in our music and the drive to not let my job be my life. I have sampled various coworkers in our music also. One morning I got a great sample of a co-worker talking shit about someone stealing out of the cash register.  So Rollerball's music is like my co-workers in that it is constantly changing, the people are weird, and everything is an influence.

Mini – Our genre jumping happens because we are fans of music in general. I feel like I am still learning about what I have to give, so I like to keep all paths open. I don’t burden my co-workers with Rollerball.  I work at a record store and everyone is a music snob.

QRD – What particular band/artist do you think your sound would not have developed without having heard?

Shane – There are so many bands that have influenced me in subtle ways.  The feelings that music can bring up is infinite.  I don't consider that one band made us follow a path.  Maybe that has something to do with all our genre/gender bending.  We are being continually influenced by outside.  I have a friend in Montana named Greg Judson who recently told me that he never listens to music or looks at anything.  He said that music fucks with your emotions and you are not feeling your own emotions, and are not in control of yourself.  He hates that.  He ended this by saying, "Has looking at stuff got you into more trouble, or less trouble?"  I have always looked and listened to everything.

Mae – I really think that Fela had a big influence on the way I play music, there are so many things, but that has to have moved me the most. Just the power of his music and the movement in it.

Mini – Personally I have been inspired at various times by Ornette Coleman's Primetime, 70-74 Miles Davis, Fela, Sly and the Family Stone, Dog Face Hermans/The Ex, Sonny Sharock, Decoding Society, Crash Worship, Bardo Pond, JOMF, Irving Klaw trio, and on and on.

QRD – When your music starts to get really free & chaotic, who holds everything together?

Shane – Mini and Gilles are terrifyingly adept at rhythm, and I think we just know when the conversation is over sometimes.

Mae – When our music gets free and chaotic usually we all hold it together with listening abilities we have developed, but it sometimes is the bass and drums.  They are the backbone in all music.

Mini – The music takes care of itself.the most important thing is listening.

QRD –  Do you generally see yourself as a live band or a studio band?

Shane – We act differently for each.  Live it seems we are shooting for that state of playing when the music is being played well, and you can be thinking about anything, like dreaming while still awake.   In the studio, it is like building something.  A bunch of little parts.  I am much more in the room when I am recording.  I barely can remember much of the live set a lot.  I will hear "You did this or that" and I can barely remember it sometimes, like I wasn't there to partake, but to be open, totally in the moment.  I love them both and both are essential to what we are.  We would not be what we are without the stage or the studio.

Mae – I see us as both a live band and a studio band because both are important tools you need to grow musically...playing live is a quick moment you can give a lot of energy to and playing in the studio is also the same only that quick moment you gave energy to is recorded and you can listen and hear just how much you gave.

Mini – I prefer the studio. I can not say I enjoy playing live at this time.

QRD – Okay, so why are you named after the movie Rollerball?  How did you feel about the remake?

Shane – I think I am the only one who saw the remake.  I've been down with LL Cool J since the "Bristol Hotel" when I was in High School so it was cool to see him doing a movie about us.

Mae – I never think of Rollerball's name in relation to the movie, I see thousands of monsters, puppets, creatures rollerskating in an arena with lights and music and magic...like a rollerball...exotic. The old movie is obviously better just like everything made nowadays

Mini – We chose the name because it was already familiar to most people. I was glad the remake bombed...

QRD –  You've got a lot of music that's gone out of print either because of being released on short run vinyl or because of labels going out of business.  Does it upset you that so much of your music is hard to find or do you think it's cool that it takes some effort to find the stuff?

Shane – I don't really think it's cool cause I would much rather anybody who wanted to hear Rollerball, be able to hear Rollerball.   We have been able to do a lot of releases through a myriad of smaller obscure labels, so there is a lot out there to choose from.  We are concerned with the whole aesthetic of the band, and we have always been able to control that.   I would love it if someone wanted to go through and re-issue a lot of the older stuff, but we just keep on marching on like each record is our first, except we have learned tons in the last decade.

Mae – I think its cool that it is hard to find our records, it keeps it cult like. I sent a guy in Israel a copy of Garlic that he couldn’t find this year. It’s a great feeling that someone far far away wants something you’ve got and makes the effort to find it just to hear your music. That feeling lasts for weeks.

Mini – Most of the runs have more than met the demand. I don’t think its cool or not cool, it is just how things are, nothing but good times.

QRD – The visual aesthetics of your releases seems to be a big part of your identity, how does this fit into your musical aesthetics?

Shane – I always loved mystique in bands like Bauhaus and Savage Republic.  It seems you could never nail down exactly who they were.   I love how Die Kreuzen always had Richard Kohl's art on every release, Black Flag had Pettibone.  The visual just exalts the sounds if done right.    The art was such a part of the identity.  I  want my art to be as multi-faceted as possible.  As a collector, I want the cover to help me along, and understand a band's ideas, and sustain my interest throughout repeated listening.

Mae – Asking about the visual aesthetics...this last cd behind the barber is visually so in relation to the music because the cover is our front porch, it is where we all lived then and slept and made the music. Art is a big part of our lives and Shane does all the layouts and hard work to make it fit so well with the music.  When I see people’s reaction to our covers it has a huge influence on them before they even hear it. So many people that have been at our house got so excited about the porch scene. Someone we had just met gave us a ride home the other night and when he dropped us off he was so excited that it was the cover of our cd!! Art moves you like the music.

Mini – The first impression is so important.

QRD – What do you think will be the thing that eventually propels Rollerball to the next level?

Shane – We stay pretty busy with recording and practicing and shows.  I guess if we could shed the restraints of our day jobs, which would allow us to  play, tour, and record even more, that might be a way to drastically change our abilities and output.  An incredible distribution push could probably help as far as sales...

Mae – I think focusing on going to Europe again will propel us to the next level. That and we all want to grow musically everyday.

Mini – I am more interested in accepting the level we are at then wishing for more.

QRD – You have a lot of guests on your recordings, how do you pick who to work with & what do they usually bring in to your music?

Shane – We have typically reserved Sundays for jamming with friends.  So Portland type musicians just come over and jam with us.  Others are just touring friends, who stay the night and are fun to play with.  I always look forward to playing with OVO and Bill Horist...

Mae – We usually pick people to come over and play if we have been moved by them as a person or their music. We have dinner and drinks and it always works out to be a positive experience. I like to keep in mind music is for everyone there are no rules and it is a powerful bonding experience. I know when someone asks me to play on something or with them I am always flattered. It’s a good feeling to share music.

Mini – I pick people who turn me on,and it is always is approaced as friends hanging out having a good time. Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes we dont.  Lately we have hooked up with Andy Brown (KEYS and mix), David Tofelson (gtr),  Jacopo Andreini(sax,drums,voice,toys), Scott Rosenberg(sax), and Milo Coleman(gtr vox mix drums).  All of these people have a unique perspective on life and it shows in everything they do.  They help me stay relentless and inspired.  Someone like Jef Brown or Bill Horist can hear things in the music that I could never hear, I really want to find a cool string player, got any ideas?

QRD – Between the members of the band you've had two different record labels of your own, why have you seeked out other labels for Rollerball?

Shane – Good distribution is hard to come by, and i don't really have the money or time.  I like collaborating with other people too.  Mike from Roadcone, Manuel at Cochon, and Brian at Silber are all kinda Rollerball auxilliary members at this point.   A way to keep different ideas flowing.  Mini has done a bunch of releases that are really good of Rollerball.   There is so  much work in doing an "official release" that it is nice to get the weird songs and excellent live recordings out quick and easy in small edition cdrs.  There is a live disc on Nillacat that is from March 20th 2003, the first day of the Iraq war, that was on KBOO and the DJ breaks in during our live set to make a call for people to bring water and food to the protestors downtown who were being teargassed and abused by cops.  It is mostly Real Hair era songs, but it is awesome and it has a pressing of maybe 25.  Keeping it low profile and inexpensive is the only way we can do our own releases, and I want more then 25 people to hear our stuff.

Mini – It's another form of collaboration.  The label is more of a joke than anything.

QRD – How do you think the dynamic of having roughly equal amounts of boys & girls  in the band has effected you compared to the personal dynamics of other bands?

Shane – I like playing in a mixed gender band.  Mostly though, it is more important that we all just get along with each other.  No huge problems between members.  Old friends.  I like to think that we are exactly half.  Mini and Gilles are men.  Mae and Amanda are women.   I am both.  Madame de Leon.

Mae – I think a balance of masculine feminine is important in everything. It is really what's wrong with our world today. Males for too long. So I like having another female in the band. All the boys have enough feminine in them anyway. I have some masculine. It will always be fine.

Mini – Having balance is good, but once  the music starts it doesn't matter if you are a boy or girl cause it is all about timing, tone, and intent.

QRD –  Is your music because of drugs or instead of drugs?

Shane – It is not so black and white.  Everything we do is what makes us Rollerball.  Gateways and expressways, city streets and dirt roads.  Different paths on different days.

Mae – I have been higher playing music from sleep deprivation alone than on any drug. I always tend to be able to write better when I haven’t slept or am sick. I have strep throat right now and did three paintings this weekend and wrote a song. Our music is because of drugs and instead of drugs.

Mini – It is definitely not instead of drugs.

QRD –  When has Rollerball been in the most danger of breaking up?

Shane – Once I was totally Jagermeistered and had been street fighting, and was bleeding rather profusely from the head.  I was standing on a car covered, knee drenched in blood, and was yelling very mean things at my band members who were really trying to help me.  I came crawling back the next day embarassed beyond all embarassment.  I lived in SF for a while and we were a bi city band and that wasn't even that hard.  We like to think about what we will be playing in like 30 years, the intuitiveness at that point.

Mae – We haven’t been in danger of breaking up I will continue to play no matter what happens. It would take all day to think of rough waters and then explain them. You have to have chaos to create.

Mini – I hope to live the rest of my life playing music with Mae, if that is the case, we will never break up.

QRD – Do you see Portland as the definitive home of Rollerball or just a coincidental one?

Shane – Portland is a great city.  Maybe someday we will all move back to Montana and live on a farm.   Italy
has been discussed.

Mae – I think all of us meeting in Portland is no coincidence. Who knows if we will stay here forever, but it feels right now. I love this city and the friends and art I have made and seen.

Mini – Coincidental, but I do like it here a lot.

QRD –  Will there ever be another Starbage Can zine?

Shane – Issue 9 came out last year.  It was not up to the glory of the multiformat ones of the past, just some drawings, but it is beautiful.  There will someday be a Starbage Can that is so freaking multi format/media that you will get your socks knocked off.

Mae – I pray there is another Starbage Can zine. I read those before I met Shane & it was a great intro.

QRD –  What are your current future plans?

Shane – We are writing all new songs for some shows at the end of the year.  Constantly recording.  Plans to tour Europe in 05 & put out a couple releases.  Ovo is coming to the states in November and we will do some more collaborations with them.  Collaborations with both Aarktica & Point Line Plane are in the beginning stages.  Stay active, Experiment & learn more.  Love my family.  BBQ & ride my bike.....

Mae – The future holds Europe and a great treasure awaits us there!

Mini – I am going downstairs to play with my cat & practice bass.
Other QRD interviews with Shane:
Guitarist interview with Shane de Leon of Miss Massive Snowflake (May 2014)
Label owner interview with Shane de Leon of Northpole Records (November 2010)

Father's Day Interview with Shane Sauers of Miss Massive Snowflake (May 2007)

Other QRD interviews with Monte(Mini) & Mae:
Bass player interview with Monte Allen of Rollerball & Moodring (October 2010)
Couples interview with Mae & Monte of Rollerball (February 2008)