Interviews

How sad, horny music shot ROLE MODEL into the spotlight

Role Model

He’s only just dropped his debut record Rx, but Role Model is already one of the fastest growing names in music.

Tucker Pillsbury AKA Role Model, has had an express paced start to his career to say the least.

It didn’t take long for Tucker to catch the attention of some of the biggest names in music, impressing the late Mac Miller with one of his first releases as Role Model in 2017, stolen cars.

Off the back of his debut performance at Coachella, we chatted to Role Model about horny billboards, gifts from fans, and the most important aspect of performing: catching people’s phones.

Role Model

HAPPY: Hey Tucker! How’s your day going? 

ROLE MODEL: It’s good so far. My friends are still here from our Coachella weekend. My friends flew out from home, so they’re all still here and crashing in my living room. 

HAPPY: Nice. So how was Coachella? That’s huge!

ROLE MODEL: It was insane. I went into it with very low expectations, as I do with everything in life, which made it great. It exceeded everything. It was incredible. We had like, one fuck up. I kicked a water bottle straight into our sound board [laughs], which blew some sparks for a song or two. And then it was smooth sailing after that. 

HAPPY: [laughs] Did it stuff up any of the audio or was everything else alright?

ROLE MODEL: It wasn’t anything too bad, but we were cutting in and out for a song or two [laughs].

HAPPY: Did you live debut any of the tracks from the album during the set? 

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I mean, the festival set’s a little bit shorter, but there’s still four songs off the album on the festival set. And then we’re doing the whole album for the tour, except for like, two songs. 

Role Model

HAPPY: Oh nice! And so obviously everyone’s had the chance to listen to the album, but what was the reception like when you played the tracks live? 

ROLE MODEL: It was pretty incredible. Our first show on tour, it was right before Coachella and it was like… a week? Not even a week after the album was out, and people were singing the words. I don’t know how they do it. I can barely remember them, so I don’t know.

HAPPY: [laughs]

ROLE MODEL: It’s insane. But it was great. There’s a lot of songs on there that I think come to life on stage. So I’m excited. 

HAPPY: I saw that a fan  threw their phone up to you during the performance at Coachella. Has that happened many times before?

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I think that’s a thing. I see it with every artist though…

HAPPY: Oh really?

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I can’t imagine throwing my phone on stage and just trusting that person to get it back to me. But yeah, I mean, it happens at a lot of shows. Everybody holds out their phone until I grab it eventually. But I don’t know why they trust me. 

HAPPY: Oh right. So was it a throw or did they hand it to you that time?

ROLE MODEL: It was a throw. Luckily I caught it. 

HAPPY: What made you more nervous, stepping out onto the Coachella stage, or the thought of dropping the phone as it was thrown to you? 

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I mean, now I just have a new added fear to performing; that I’m gonna drop someone’s phone and shatter it. 

HAPPY: Yeah, you’ll have to add catching practice into your performance rehearsals.

ROLE MODEL: [laughs].

@vanessaamonet he was soooo good!! @tucker #fyp #coachella #rolemodel ♬ original sound – vanessa 🪐

HAPPY: By the way, congrats on the new album.

ROLE MODEL: Thank you!

HAPPY: You posted a picture on Instagram of a billboard that says the album “is so horny”. That’s gotta be one of the best billboards I’ve ever seen.

ROLE MODEL: [laughs]

HAPPY: Other than horny, how else would you describe the album?

ROLE MODEL: See, that’s hard because that’s my favourite word. So I don’t know. It’s very dark but very happy at the same time. Kind of a roller coaster of emotions. But I don’t know, sad, happy, horny, I guess.

HAPPY: The three main emotions, I love it. I also read that you’ve got a background in film. So if the album was a soundtrack to a film, what kind of movie would it be?

ROLE MODEL: A24. I don’t know what genre, but I’m gonna send it off to A24. It would be something hectic. I don’t know, I don’t want to confuse anyone. I don’t want it to be like Hereditary [laughs].

HAPPY: On the topic of filmmaking, how much input do you have on the music videos that you make?

ROLE MODEL: It’s like my favourite part. I write all the videos but I don’t ever really want to take directing credit because I’m not the one that’s talking to the DP’s there. But I write the video and I work with this director, Dylan Knight, who’s done a lot of my videos. He works with me really closely with every little detail and then he produces. So I don’t ever want to take credit, but I’m very involved in the whole thing.

HAPPY: Nice. I love that you incorporate little plot twists into your videos, especially Rx. Do you get a kick out of surprising people?

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, that’s my favourite part. With that video specifically, I just really love the idea of a two shot video. I mean, it’s basically a single take video. But like you said, just having the slightest little turnaround there, it’s nothing that’s going to be like… [gasps], but it’s cool.

It made me happy to have that in there and it kind of felt like what I see when I listen to that song or how I feel when I’m listening to it in my car, you know? There were times early on in the process when I would listen to that song in my car driving, and it would tear me apart a little bit. So it was cool to see that captured on camera.

HAPPY: Speaking of surprises and uniqueness, not many people could write a song called Masturbation Song and have the lyrics charting on Genius. Are unique lyrics intentional when you write songs, or does it just kind of happen that way?

ROLE MODEL: That song specifically, when I wrote that, it was just one of those songs [where] you don’t think about it. I don’t think there’s any song where I’m thinking, or questioning if something’s okay or not, or too open or whatever. I think when it’s time to release, that’s when I’m like, ‘Hey, am I talking about Jesus a little bit too much? Hey, is this going to make people uncomfortable?’

But when I’m writing the songs, I think it’s so important for any artist to not filter anything. I think people like Matt Healy do an amazing job of setting that standard of complete honesty. Like, that dude writes songs about not being able to take a shit in a hotel room with a new girl that he’s hanging out with. I love that. That’s the type of honesty that makes you uncomfortable because, you know, you go through it.

Role Model
Role Model via Instagram

HAPPY: Yeah funny you said that because Matt Healy is actually exactly who I thought of when I was listening to Jesus Saves. I heard that you copped a bit of hate for that song just because it mixed religion and sex a little bit. But I’m interested what the writing process was for that song, and the decision to use Jesus as a metaphor.

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, I mean, with all the songs with Jesus in it, I think it should be obvious that none of it is about Jesus Christ and none of it is about religion. Almost every artist now is using religious references because you can compare it to so many different things. But I don’t know, it’s just a fun thing to play with. And especially for Jesus Saves, that song was supposed to set up the album and it was past tense, talking about this really dark, shit time and mental state that I was in before meeting this person.

I wanted to write a song showing how badly I needed that person to come into my life. And when they did, the only thing I could compare it to was how I imagine someone finds God, or witnesses a miracle, or on their knees waiting for some sort of higher power to give them an answer. So that was the whole idea behind it. But that being said, I did lose like 4,000 followers off that song, so God bless.

HAPPY: [laughs] Yeah. It’s such a sweet metaphor though. It’s pretty powerful. And even though you lost a few followers, you’ve got some truly diehard fans out there. So I wanted to ask, what’s the wildest or best interaction you’ve had with a fan so far?

ROLE MODEL: I’m so bad at remembering… I get the most creative gifts, I’ll say that. We get the craziest gifts, like good shit that I keep, and I wear. We just did a show in Pomona to open up the tour, and someone gave me this beautiful Shawn Mendes tour t-shirt. And there’s a Twitter meme going around of someone photoshopping text on a white t-shirt and it said, ‘I barely survived the release of neverletyougo. And someone actually turned it into a t shirt and gave it to me on stage. They’re so creative with the shit that they give me on tour and I love it. I keep all of it. I have all the bracelets and everything. It’s sick. It’s like Christmas.

HAPPY: Aw, that’s so nice. Well, thanks so much for jumping on the call, man. It was so nice chatting to you.

ROLE MODEL: Thank you, man. It was very nice. Thank you for taking the time.

HAPPY: No worries at all! Do you have much happening tonight?

ROLE MODEL: I don’t. I need to start packing though, because we leave on Thursday and I haven’t done a thing [laughs].

HAPPY: Oh yeah, it’s still Tuesday for you, hey?

ROLE MODEL: Yeah, yeah. It’s still Tuesday. We just got back last night, so I’ve been recovering from the weekend.

HAPPY: Nice. Well, have a good night, man.

ROLE MODEL: You too! Thank you so much again.

HAPPY: Thank you!

Role Model’s debut album is out now. Get a taste for ‘Rx’ below.

Photos provided.

Interview by Lochie Schuster.