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Photo of local Columbia band The Rollups’ debut album cover.

Kevin Mathein/Senior Staff Photographer

The Rollups release their self-titled debut album

The Rollups are a Columbia-based band that is putting a funky twist on alternative rock.

By Corin Cesaric | March 10, 2015

Tags: Band interviews Music The Bridge

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It’s a Thursday night at The Bridge, just a couple of hours before The Rollups’ release party for their self-titled debut album, and I get the chance to talk with the band members about it.

The band is made up of four young guys, each from four different parts of the country, who are determined to make their mark. We all stood off to the side in The Bridge in sort of a huddle. On my left was guitarist Marshall Maxwell; next to him was bassist Emmitt Wright, then there was lead vocalist and guitarist Sam Jennings, and drummer Jon Belsheim was on my right.

The Rollups came about during what the guys describe as one fateful afternoon at Taco Bell. Although each band member knew at least one other person, they had never all met. When they decided to grab a bite to eat together, the four of them were finally introduced and everything went from there.

Where did the name The Rollups come from? They have always been drawn to the blank names of some of their major influences — The Beatles, The Who and the like. So, as they were bouncing ideas around, they came up with “The Rollups.” They liked all of the different connotations of the name, which is one of the reasons they chose it.

“Ya know, you can ‘roll up’ to a party; Fruit Roll-Ups; tobacco cigarettes and, like, our hashtag on Twitter is #WeBeRollinUp,” Belsheim says.

At the band’s inception, each member had a different idea of what they wanted to accomplish and how they wanted to sound.

“Marshall was into Pink Floyd jamming, and Emmitt was into the technical, groovy, funky stuff,” Belsheim says. “Sam was really into pretty songwriting, and I just wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll.”

The alternative rock group found a way to make everything come together (right now) on their debut album to project a ’60s vibe.

“Abbie” is an example of a pretty and soft tune, but to counter it, they have other songs like “You Wouldn’t Understand,” which Wright described as his favorite on the album.

“It’s just a great song to open with,” he says. “This guitar solo just sounds like a screaming eagle. For me, there’s no better way to start an album. Like get ready, we hope you’re prepared.”

It seems like they have found the perfect synchronization to include all of their individual styles.

“The album we’re putting out is the first example of our sound — it’s kind of split between slower, nicer, prettier stuff,” Jennings says. “It’s groovy. It’s kind of mellow, very ’60s, and the rest is this kind of loose rock ‘n’ roll.”

The four-piece band decided last summer to sit down together and perfect their lyrics and song structure as best as possible before they hit the studio to work on the album. Although they get inspiration from many different artists, they want to have their own unique sound, and that’s one thing they have been working toward.

“Before, we were playing like other people we like, but now we play like ourselves,” Belsheim says.

They aren’t trying to be like anyone else, the band says. They want to make their own sound without mimicking anyone or selling out to the music industry.

“A lot of rock music now is extremely produced, and ours has a bit of a warmth of ’60s,” Maxwell says.

It’s evident that each of these young musicians are invested in a similar dream. They take their music seriously and aren’t planning to stop anytime soon. This won’t be the last time you hear about them either — they plan on starting their second album this summer.

You can check out their debut album, which is now available on Spotify and iTunes.

“Guys with guitars in a garage, just think back to the most basic forms of rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s us,” Wright says.

It’s a Thursday night at The Bridge, the crowd is buzzing, the lights are dimming, and it’s show time for The Rollups.

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