Julez and the Rollerz are one day away from releasing their stellar debut EP Is This Where The Party Is?. The five-song EP sees the band kicking out blues-infused garage rock with a hint of psychedelia as they confront insecurities head-on, urge people to chase their dreams, and deal with change. Is This Where The Party Is? will be out everywhere on May 19 via Party Mermaid Records (you can pre-order it here or pre-save it here!) and the band will be kicking off their Californian tour tomorrow with their album release show at Non Plus Ultra in Los Angeles.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Jules Batterman, synth player Shea Carothers, and guitarist Hannah Hughes over Zoom to talk about the new EP, working with a new lineup, dealing with insecurity, making tour scrapbooks, and so much more. Read the interview below!
The current lineup of Julez and the Rollerz came together in 2021 and your upcoming EP Is This Where The Party Is? will be your first release together. How did this lineup come together?
Jules: I had a different lineup when I first moved here in 2018 and then I met our bassist, Rachel, at the end of 2019 and we played some shows. Then obviously the pandemic started and me, her, and our former drummer wrote some music together and recorded it. But then it wasn’t working out. By the end of 2021, I was like, “I’m just going to go for a full femme band”. I was looking for other people to join and Rachel had gone to this camp called ‘Girls Rock Camp’ and she recommended that I reach out to Shea for synth and Emi who plays drums. Then a friend of mine recommended the other guitarist, Hannah, and the rest is history. [laughs] We played our first show together in March 2022.
How do you feel the new lineup has affected the dynamic of the band?
Jules: In so many great ways. Before the chemistry was different and now we’re all able to bond in a different way.
Shea: I can’t speak to the prior lineup but it’s kinda like having a built-in community. With all of us being women in music and understanding each other’s experiences and supporting each other’s solo adventures too. We’re all just a great group.
Jules: Yeah, I agree. I think we all found ourselves working well together and being able to plan outfits and things that you can’t always do with boys, you know? [laughs] It makes it more fun. It’s just fun and it’s cool to be in a group with some talented women.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Jules: I feel like I haven’t written a song for the project since we recorded the ones we have on the EP, to be honest. Except for this Halloween song that we did. [laughs]
Shea: Stay tuned. [laughs]
Jules: That was the most recent but it usually starts with guitar riffs on my end and then I mumble some random melodies on top of it and then I think of the lyrics a lot later. Then I’m like, “Hey guys! Here’s the song!” and everyone figures out their parts. When I think of something, I just sing into my voice memos and then I look back at them and I’m like, “This makes no sense”. [laughs] It’s still helpful, sometimes. But recently, I just haven’t. I guess I’ve been so focused on trying to promote this EP.
This EP is coming out on Party Mermaid Records which is the label and feminist collective that you started during the pandemic with Chelsea Nenni Concepcion and your bandmate Rachel David. How did the idea to create the label come about?
Jules: It was all Chelsea’s idea. She’s in a band called Late Slip. She wanted to start this label and brought the idea up to us during the pandemic and we were both very excited to be a part of it. I think it has mainly turned into more of a collective now than an exclusive label or anything. There’s a focus on supporting artists. I don’t run it as much as I should be. [laughs] It’s mainly Chelsea now but I still use it as the label for as long as we’re putting out stuff, it’s always nice to have some kind of label behind your project. We kind of started out by collaborating with Andie Aronow from Women That Rock, who’s based in New York. It's kind of a similar situation with an Instagram page that supports femme artists and queer artists, just not cis men. [laughs] So years later, Party Mermaid Records is mostly run by Chelsea of Late Slip and we kind of just support when we can. It is still the label that we’re on, technically. [laughs]
How would you describe the process of releasing this EP with the label?
Jules: It’s been a solo process more so with the label as a separate entity. In the past, I’ve done promotional campaigns and I’ve hired PR people who really didn’t do much and I really don’t wanna drop singles randomly. I wanted something to promote a bigger release and do it right this time. Shea actually works in music marketing and she helped guide me throughout this journey. [laughs]
Shea: A little.
Jules: She has all the insight.
What’s it like working in music marketing?
Shea: It’s really cool. I work at an indie label basically so it’s cool to learn everything that goes on behind the scenes and then pick and choose what we can apply to our own rollouts. It feels really comprehensive both working in the music industry and being an indie musician. It’s fun, it’s great.
Do you feel like you have more of a perspective on how you can make marketing better from an artist’s standpoint?
Shea: Yeah, totally! I think it’s hard to play both roles and I think Jules could also speak to this. Trying to market yourself is intense, especially being like, “I know what TikToks I should be making but I’m not going to make those” because that’s not where your skills lay all the time or where you want to allocate your time. I think also being a full group of us, we all have our different skills where we can lend a hand here and there. We’re working on it. [laughs]
Jules: When I started this project, I was very hands-on. I wasn’t sure who wanted to do certain things and I think it took a while to accept that people care enough to want to help.
Shea: Yes Jules, we want to help. [laughs] We’re family.
Jules: So I’m trying to let go in that way because I didn’t want to put that burden on people. But with people like Shea I definitely get that vibe and Hannah too and everyone. It’s nice to be a part of a band that can offer different things in cool ways. Hannah obviously contributes as well in her own ways.
Hannah: Definitely! We really place an emphasis not just on the music but also on the visual aesthetic of the band. Typically we like to have a combined look where all kinda match or look aesthetically similar. I like that besides the music, we also really place emphasis on the visual aspect of the band.
Shea: We love a good theme.
Jules: We do love a good theme. I feel like it’s usually Shea or Emi who are like, “What is the theme?” and I’m like, “Uhhh”. [laughs]
Shea: Every time we panic.
Hannah: I feel like the theme does it itself. We always end up figuring something out for the shows.
Jules: Yeah, we definitely do. It’s either something really cute or kinda silly but it always ends up working.
Do you have a favourite theme that you’ve done?
Hannah: I really like the Love Song Bar metallic look that we did. That was cool. I also liked when we played Zebulon each of us had different animal prints.
Shea: I liked when I got to choose and we just wore jeans and tank tops, that was fun. But also our tour poster look - hell yeah!
Jules: Shea’s feeling herself in that tour poster look.
Shea: I’m so feeling myself.
Jules: I love that outfit! All the outfits were so fucking cute. [laughs] Very cohesive. I think all of our favourite outfits definitely coincide with our personalities for sure. I could see when Shea was like, “Let’s just do jeans and a t-shirt” like that’s her vibe for sure, and Hannah with the metallic. I love a good balance between the two, depending. I also like doing suits or anything androgynous sometimes. It’s fun. [laughs] I like mixing it up because we’re never just one thing. We are in this together so it kind of makes sense to all come together and put our own spin on an outfit rather than being like, “Ok, we’re going to wear this every single show”. I think something that adds to our live show sometimes is, “What are they going to wear?” That’s what makes it exciting.
You have a new promo photo and you’re all wearing red and blue wigs. What’s the story behind the wigs?
Jules: That was for our music video for “Be Something New”. I really wanted us to be wearing different wigs throughout the music video and our friend Candace happened to be there. She takes a lot of our photos live and press photos and she ended up taking that photo. We ended up loving it and using it throughout any press we had for that release. The wigs were just kind of like a silly thing for the music video. I love a good wig but I usually just get one from the Halloween store which is not ideal. [laughs] Especially with having curly hair, I’m very strict with like, “It’s going to be curly, that’s what it is”. I don’t want to straighten it or dye it too much. I’ve always wanted to get on the wig train and be a different person for a second. [laughs]
Shea: You wanna be something new, Jules?
Jules: Yeah, I wanna be something new sometimes. [laughs]
How do you tell a good wig from a bad wig?
Jules: Hair. Real hair vs synthetic. I feel like the good wigs are made out of real hair, right?
Shea: I think if it’s hot, it’s hot. End of story.
Jules: That’s true. If it looks good then it’s good.
Hannah: Agreed. I have a blonde wig in my car from the music video shoot for “Be Something New” that I was gonna wear but I decided on the other one. But yeah, it’s still in my car. That’s the blonde thing over there. [points to the wig in the backseat]
Jules: It’s still there!?
Jules: Mind you, that was a few months ago which is why this is so funny.
Hannah: We love wigs in this band.
Jules: We still haven’t done a look on stage that’s just wigs, we should do that at some point
Shea: I think it could be our release show.
Hannah: Oh, we’re doing it!
You should make a Julez and the Rollerz wig line.
Hannah: I would love to.
Jules: That would be amazing! Like wigs of all of our hair. I feel like we all have different hair, in a cool way. People would be like, “Oh, that’s Hannah’s hair! That’s Shea’s hair!”
Shea: Hannah and I with our long brown hair. [laughs]
Jules: Yeah but it looks different! And then I’ll have the Annie hair.
This EP was recorded, mixed, and mastered at The Cave by Josiah Mazzachi. How did you decide where to record and who to record with?
Jules: It was highly recommended to me. He has recorded with a band that I like a lot called Deep Valley and has also worked a lot with the Smashing Pumpkins and recorded Sunflower Bean and some other artists that I enjoy. After him being recommended a lot, I just hit him up and we recorded “Sorry I’m Just A Waste of Time” and “Be Something New” with the old lineup in 2021 over the summer. The rest of the songs, “Wildest Fantasy”, “Confess”, and “Think About It” were recorded with the girls because I want to keep it consistent. I don’t want random people recording and then we put into one EP. I would probably work with him again. We’re good friends now and he’s really sweet. He’s very mellow and I don’t even know if he gets angry. [laughs]
Sounds like a good person to work with, especially in a studio environment where you can get stressed out.
Shea: Absolutely. I cried recording background vocals, I was so nervous. But it worked out.
Jules: He was very patient about it. When Shea wanted to take a second to feel like, “I CAN do this” he was like, “Oh yeah, you can take your time”. It all worked out.
Did he give pep talks?
Jules: I wouldn’t say he’s a pep talk kind of guy.
Shea: He definitely goes with the flow.
Jules: Yeah, he just goes with the flow. We’re kind of chaotic when we’re in the room, at least I am and maybe other people are too. [laughs] There are pictures that our friend CANDACE took when we were recording and being crazy and he’s just in the other room trying to mix everything like, “Yeah, you guys have fun!”
Working through insecurity is a major theme on this EP. What helps you when you are feeling insecure?
Jules: What helps me is reminding myself that everything matters but also doesn’t matter at the end of the day. We only have one life and - this is so cliche to say - but we’re on a floating rock and the Universe is forever expanding, there’s life on other planets and all that shit. I think you just have to remind yourself that you’re doing what’s right for yourself and it’s not always easy. I’m very self-deprecating, obviously, and I can be very insecure and get sad very easily but sometimes I’m like, “You know what? Fuck it! I’m just not going to care because what is someone going to do to me if I push for something or I am the way I am?” Either you accept me or you don’t, that’s fine. [laughs] But I happen to have a bunch of people who do which is good. How about you guys? How do you deal with insecurity?
Hannah: If I ever feel that way or if someone has to say something to me that will maybe make me feel insecure, I just like to remind myself of my purpose and remind myself of where I came from, and my destiny. I also remind myself to stay headstrong despite anything and tune out the noise of other people or overthinking and really focus, really hone in on what I want to do.
Shea: Honestly, I was so scared to join this band. I felt like such an imposter but I think just taking other people’s perspectives at face value has helped. I’m not going to read into it. If they think I’m a synth player, I’m a synth player - that’s totally fine.
Jules & Hannah: You are a synth player!
Shea: I also feel like you never really grow from doing things that are comfortable. So even if you’re insecure or whatever, just do it anyways. No one cares that much, no one cares as much as you do. No one will ever have anything worse to say than yourself most of the time. Who cares? Just go with it and do what you want to do.
“Wildest Fantasy” highlights the importance of chasing your dreams. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue their passion?
Jules: There will be dark times and a lot of self-doubt and a lot of stress and sometimes it feels competitive in some ways and it’s not fun. I think you just have to remind yourself that you’re trying to reach a goal and you will get there or you will get close to there if you keep trying and you’re not going to get there or close to there if you stop. Even if it is stressful or scary or you feel like you’re not good enough. I still feel all of those things and I think a lot of people feel that way. It’s a good reminder that we are all in this together and all feeling the same things and all have the same end goal - not necessarily success but doing what you love freely. I think if you love it enough you shouldn’t give it up even when it’s hell. Which it can be! [laughs] But not always!
The EP ends with “Think About It” which is really psychedelic sounding. What inspired this song?
Jules: I write a lot of songs based on my relationship. I’ve been with my partner for over ten years now and I was kinda like, “Are you thinking about it? Are you thinking about proposing or what do you want from this?” I was also reflecting on when I was a little bit younger and moved here for the first time and what a weird transitional period it was, in life and with my relationship as well because he was still living on the East Coast. I really wanted a song that was more psych and had a little slow breakdown thing. I knew that the girls could make that happen in a really cool way with Shea doing cool synth chords that build up and fill the sound and Hannah shredding with her cool guitar pedals, and obviously bass and drums too. Everybody added so much to that song. It is one of the most fun songs we play, as of right now.
Shea: It’s my favourite song to play on stage for sure.
Jules: It’s a lot of fun! There are so many parts like fast, slow, and groove. I think the audience usually enjoys it as well which is cool to see. I’m calling it the Led Zeppelin song just because that’s what people have said to me like, “It’s so Led Zeppelin”. That wasn’t the goal but I get why you’re saying that. The dad rock comes out sometimes, it’s not always intentional. [laughs]
What were you listening to during the writing and recording process?
Jules: I wasn’t even listening to a lot of classic rock or anything when I was writing these songs. I really love Mitski. She and I went to school together and I love watching her succeed. I’m inspired by her music for sure. I was listening to a lot of different people like even King Tuff sometimes. [laughs] I like his psychedelic stuff. I always unintentionally write things that are very nostalgic sounding but I also want to incorporate a lot of modern indie pop sounds. Which is where Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, Ex-Hex, and Death Valley Girls come in. I was definitely listening to all of those artists and kept them in mind while making and writing the songs. I would say similar to them too, there’s different ways that all of our musical tastes coincide and stuff.
Hannah: I think at that time I was listening to Flying Burrito Brothers, DEVO, Sparks, Duran Duran, all those different bands. There were so many more but I think we all kind of have similar tastes in music. We like all different things but I feel like we connect mutually in our love and respect for similar artists and I think that definitely binds the band together in a lot of ways. We all have a mutual understanding of each other musically and artistically. I think that’s a higher level of friendship that goes along with being bandmates together. It’s definitely great for the band.
Shea: I feel like compared to Jules and Hannah, I definitely lean away from rock. I lean more into indie pop, dream pop, and art pop. At the time probably a lot of Cat le Bon's new album Pompeii and Warnings by I Break Horses, which is one of my favourite albums. I love anything synth-heavy. Also a lot of coldwave, darkwave bands like D.A.F. and Ruth. Those are some of my favourites, always. We definitely have a big span between all of us. Our tour playlist is going to be interesting for sure.
Jules: It is! I still have to create the collaborative playlist.
Shea: Good luck!
Jules: I will! Thank you!
Roller-skating has been a big part of the band’s theme and is also a part of the name with “the Rollerz”. What do you feel the connection between roller skating and rock music is?
Jules: It’s funny because, besides Rachel and I, I don’t think any of us have ever skated together.
Hannah: Listen, I have a pair. I’m always ready.
Jules: We still need to make that happen at some point! It’s honestly kinda funny at this point because when was the last time any of us roller-skated even at all? I had been rollerskating a little bit before that but I feel like everyone was rollerskating during the pandemic in 2020. We went with “the Rollerz” because it can have many meanings. Also, the Bay City Rollers from back in the day were called the Rollers. They changed their name to the Rollers which I didn’t know until after but I was like, “I guess that makes sense”. Obviously, this is a whole conversation but I know there was that whole “disco sucks” era where people were roller-skating mainly to disco a lot in the 70s but I know a lot of people also roller-skated to rock music. When I DJ on my radio show on KPISS, Rock N Roll Love Letter, I do a little bit of both. I think they are similar and different in many ways. I think when it comes to rollerskating, as long as there’s a groove it doesn’t really matter what the genre it is, to be honest. You can skate to it and still have fun. It just depends on what kind of flow you’re trying to go with and I think rock music was very important for the sport, you could say. [laughs] I think it was mainly disco and funk but it all stems from something.
Like how a lot of people found out about punk music because of skate videos and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video games.
Jules: Yeah! Which is funny because Shea said one of the songs, “Confess”, reminds her of a Tony Hawk Pro Skater song.
You’ll be touring California starting later this month. What are you looking forward to the most about this tour?
Jules: I think it’s all of our first tours and just that alone is exciting. Some of the band members haven’t been up north in California so that’s exciting.
Shea: I’ve never been to Northern California and I’m really excited to go to a new city and play in a new city. And to go with my close friends, it just feels like a dream and I’m really excited. It’s gonna be good!
Jules: I’m excited to see how we all react to playing shows every night and driving. It’s not even that big of a tour but it’s big because we haven’t ever done anything like that before. I think we are ready because we’ve known each other for over a year and I think we can do this. It’s going to be great!
Hannah: Totally, yeah!
Is there a place in particular that you’re looking the most forward to playing?
Jules: I wanna say San Francisco but also everyone’s scaring me about it because there’s a lot of car break-ins over there. Everyone’s like, “Make sure all your windows are rolled down and all your valuables are taken out!” I’m still excited though! There are also a couple of house shows we’re playing in Santa Barbara and Sacramento that I’m really excited about. I’ve never been to Sacramento.
Shea: I’m excited for Joshua Tree! I think it’s going to be so fucking fun. I’m so excited, it’s going to be amazing!
Hannah: I’m excited for all of it, the whole thing! Definitely San Francisco. I can’t wait!
Are you going to have a ‘we played here for the first time' thing you do in each new place?
Jules: That is a great idea! We should make a scrapbook!
Shea: We should take photos or something in front of all the city signs.
Hannah: I was going to get a bunch of disposable cameras to make a scrapbook for our first tour.
Shea: Hannah’s one step ahead of us! [laughs]
Jules: Hannah’s planning this! We’ll have photos and little trinkets and tchotchkes and stickers and stuff from each city. That would be so cute! Then we could all hang out and put it together.
Jules: I’m stoked! [laughs] Hannah, four steps ahead of us.
How would you describe the DIY scene in Los Angeles?
Jules: I think we each have different things to say about that for sure. Hannah and I moved here from New York City and it’s so different. They’re both obviously big cities with thriving music scenes but they’re just different to me. Maybe I didn’t give New York City that much of a shot but I think I definitely found my people in LA more quickly than I did in New York City even though I grew up in that area and knew everybody there, it still felt distant to me. I think there’s so many different kinds of genres that come together in one scene in LA which is really cool. You see a lot of people at the same shows and you make a lot of friends and it just feels like a big party like, “Oh my god, you’re here!” It’s very - and I hate saying this because it’s kinda cringe - but it is very much like Almost Famous. How do you guys feel?
Shea: I was kinda intimidated at first but now I feel like we’re all each other’s biggest fans. We see some of the bands we have opened for every week now and we all just rotate at each other’s shows. It’s a very supportive community, definitely better than you would expect.
Hannah: Now that I live in LA and I’m in the music scene, I definitely think it’s the most supportive community I’ve really had. Just like Jules said, I grew up in New York and I played in that circuit for some years. I definitely think the LA community is super close and I’ve met so many like-minded people who want to work and are serious and down to go. I really fell in love with the LA music scene and every day I fall more in love with it. I can’t wait to see what else happens and where else it takes us.
What is it about the LA scene that makes it so supportive?
Hannah: I don’t know, there’s just so many musicians in one city and everyone’s in bands and everyone knows someone in this band and in that band. I just think there’s so many opportunities and connections to be made. That’s my perception of the scene.
Jules: I feel like to be in the industry you have to have some sort of ego in some way but I think there are people with the biggest egos who we’re all on the same page about and then there’s people who are like, “We’re all in this together! We want to support each other and play music and have fun and root for each other.” Which is really cool. For the most part, everyone in the scene is really nice and supportive. It’s refreshing for sure. No one thinks they’re better than anyone, they’re just doing their thing.
Shea: We all wanna see each other win.
Jules: Yeah, exactly! It’s like if someone wins then we all win.
What are you listening to now?
Jules: I always listen to Sheryl Crow non-stop. I listen to a lot of Junkshop Glam but that’s also what I DJ a lot. I’ve been listening to a lot of Italo disco from the 1980s lately for some reason. Anything that’s getting me moving because now that I have an office job I have to stimulate my brain more often than just listening to chill music. I need something I can sing along to or dance to at my desk.
Hannah: I’ve been listening to a lot of unreleased Lady Gaga songs from 2007.
Jules: Where did you find those??
Hannah: Just on YouTube. I love De La Soul so lately that’s what I’ve been listening to. I’ve also been listening to Klaus Nomi and Jeannie C. Riley - I listened to her vinyl the other day. Those are totally different genres but that’s what I’ve been listening to, all sorts of good stuff. I know when I get home I’m going to be like, “Why didn’t I mention that!?” [laughs]
Shea: I’m trying to think of what’s not my comfort music. I finally read Crying in H Mart so I’ve been revisiting a lot of Japanese Breakfast and Little Big League stuff. When we saw Japanese Breakfast open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with the Linda Lindas, it was a great show. Michelle Zauner and that whole Philly indie scene. As far as new stuff, I’m definitely trying to consume more new music. I’ve been loving Miya Folick's new stuff, I think she’s putting out more which is amazing, and Kelela has had a great album this year. We like to listen across the board. We’re an eclectic bunch. [laughs]
What’s next for Julez and the Rollerz?
Jules: I want to start writing and recording an album that isn’t just me writing all the songs. [laughs] I want to get to a place where we can all jam and contribute in a way that everyone feels comfortable contributing to making an album. Even if people want to write their own songs, something really collaborative. Hopefully, after this, if we don’t despise each other…No, I’m just kidding! [laughs] Hopefully bigger tours and touring the East Coast and eventually Europe. Getting there step by step.
Shea: Europe, wow.
Jules: Yeah, go big or go home! I think Europe might like us. I heard they’re big on rock. [laughs] Or even South America!
Shea: South America would go off probably.
Jules: That’s what I feel is next. How about you Shea?
Shea: You’re the bandleader, I look to you. But I’m definitely here for more collabing and writing together.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you would like to add?
Jules: Everyone also has their own solo projects which are really rad. Hannah has her own solo project that she does a lot with and Shea has her own that is really beautiful and needs to do some performances. She did her debut performance and then got COVID. Our drummer, Emi, plays a lot of Latin music and cool crazy sounds as she describes it.
Shea: She’s an incredible percussionist across the board.
Jules: She’s really rad. We have two bassists right now, Morgan and Rachel, and they both have their own things as well. Rachel has her band the Everythings and Morgan plays for this band called the Pistols. Everyone has their own cool stuff going on. I just have this one. [laughs]
Shea: Jules, you made this. You’re the reason why we’re here.