Role Model's 'Rx' Is Just What the Doctor Ordered [Q&A]
Photo: Daniel Prakopcyk
"Yeah, I'm happy where I stand right now, can you say the same?"
After releasing a string of singles throughout the last year, ROLE MODEL's highly anticipated album Rx is finally here. Intoxicating, introspective, and infectious, Rx is just what the doctor ordered.
As its title suggests, love is a drug, and arguably the strongest one of them all. Despite these connotations, ROLE MODEL is here to assure us that fully immersing yourself in love - however you might define it - does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. In his own words, "it's the greatest drug ever created." Across 11 tracks painted in dreamy guitar loops and sweet vocals, the rising star dives deep into his individual and intersectional experiences with sex, religion, and love.
Although Rx has been described as a project inspired by the power of a woman, it reveals itself as something much larger: it is an album about the universal experience of life. From getting up close and personal in "masturbation song," fighting misogynistic double standards in "stripclub music," dealing with loss in "can you say the same," to touching on the ironies of religion in "life is funny," the songwriting and storytelling across Rx is raw, authentic, and above all, human. We are all constantly learning and adapting, and Rx feels like an honest documentation of one's personal growth and self-reflection.
Instrumentally, ROLE MODEL taps into a multitude of sounds to create a genre that is uniquely his own (and a wonderfully catchy one, at that). Between hip-hop inspired tunes like "neverletyougo" and danceable, indie-pop love anthems like "forever&more," the production on Rx is versatile while maintaining a cohesion through its lyricism. Rx is one of those albums where you can listen to it on repeat and find something new with each listen, whether it be an instrumental, a hidden soundbyte, or a clever play on words.
I had the lovely opportunity to chat with Role Model about all things Rx.
Ones to Watch: Hi Tucker!
ROLE MODEL: Hi! How are you?
I'm doing good, how are you?
I'm good, I like your Igor poster and I like your sweater vest!
Well, thank you! I've just got a few questions for you about the album and all the moments leading up to the release.
Easy, love it.
Okay, so, by the time this interview is up, Rx will be available everywhere for the world to hear. In one word, how do you feel?
You released your EP, our little angel, when you were 23. Now that you're almost 25, do you think your personal growth has been reflected in your music?
Yes. I don't ever like getting comfortable. Every project sounds fairly different from the last and that's because I'm just learning as I go and people get to watch me learn. People who have been around since "ARIZONA IN THE SUMMER" have gotten to see me slowly figure this shit out, and I don't think I've figured everything out for sure yet, but this album is the best representation of everything I've learned over the years, and grown, and pushed myself with lyrics and everything. So, yeah, I think the music in general has kind of matured with me.
I was definitely getting that while listening. As someone who's also 24 and figuring out life, there are a lot of relatable moments in the lyrics.
I love that, that's good to hear!
Across Rx, you share some personal (and relatable) encounters with religion, sex, and love. Is vulnerability something that comes naturally to you and your writing process?
Yeah. I think Matty Healy says it perfectly - I don't understand the point in writing music if you're not going to be fully transparent and open and not filter yourself - there's just no need. I think maybe half of it is that I'm writing these songs alone, so I'm not bouncing ideas off of anyone and being like, "Yo, what do you think about a song about masturbation," like, no one's there to say no, so maybe that's part of it. There's just no need for a filter. You get some of the best lyrics when you just say whatever's on your fuckin' mind.
With songs like "neverletyougo" and "can you say the same," this album feels like a new, experimental era for you and your sound. Who or what were some of your artistic inspirations?
Those songs specifically are the two songs that lean pretty heavily into hip-hop, but that's been an influence since before I even made music. That's what I grew up on and that's what I listened to all the way from elementary school to high school. I think that's just always gonna be up here and with any genre, I try not to lean too hard into anything, but yeah, I wanted to have a couple of little rap songs on there, but lyrically everything feels cohesive which is the most important thing. But yeah, there's like eight different genres on this album so I don't know what the sound is necessarily.
And that's totally fine. I absolutely love the creative direction of this album - the music video for "if jesus saves, she's my type" did such a great job at capturing what it looks and feels like to be in love. What has it been like seeing your music come to life, visually?
It's my favorite part! I went to school for film, which is where I found music. That was my passion before any of this, so now I get to combine the two things I love the most in this world together. Usually, the visual part is the first thing that comes when I'm making a song, which helps with writing the song, too. But yeah, I get to write a video then bring it to my director Dylan Knight, who I work with, and be like "Hey, let's make this happen" and it's the coolest thing because I get to bring that vision to life without doing any of the work hahah. Like, I just hand it off to him, and he does the hard parts, but it's cool - exactly how I see something, and bringing that to life, is the coolest feeling.
Yeah, totally! I actually also went to film school.
Oh, no way!
Yeah! And I thought your video - specifically the 'if jesus saves' video - was so beautiful. The lighting, the story, the color palette, it was all so well done.
Thank you so much.
What's been your favorite moment or memory leading up to the release of Rx?
Hmm… the hard part is, like, everyone's two year pandemic experience is a blur. But I will say, I worked on the whole album. It was just me and Spencer Stewart who's worked with me in the past on some EPs and stuff, but he executive produced this whole thing with me. In the beginning [of the pandemic] when we started the album, I was stuck at home back in Maine. At the top of the pandemic, when it was bad, I had to fly home. I didn't have supplies, whatever. So I went home to stay with my parents for what I thought was going to be two weeks and it ended up being like two-and-a-half months. Somewhere in there I started going crazy and my friend from home, from high school, had one of those cheap $40 Amazon mics and I was like "Can I borrow it." He brought it over to my place and I just started FaceTiming with Spencer to get guitar loops going and then he'd send them to me. I don't know the name of the website and all the apps we were using but we were doing sessions in the hardest way possible, just to like, make songs and create, and we did, and some of those songs that we made in the worst way possible ended up making the album, which I think is really special. We were just constantly trying to find ways to make it work during that initial part of the pandemic. But, it was fun. Looking back, I think it was the best thing for me and I had a great time.
Relatable. I had a similar situation happen where I thought I was going home for a week but it turned into a few months.
Oh yeah, I am sure it happened to a lot of us.
But we're here now. You've got a big year ahead of you - with playing at Coachella, alongside a world tour - is there a specific city or venue you're most excited for?
Obviously, Coachella is incredible, but I'm bummed we're not doing a show in Chicago because that's one of my favorite cities to play in. We're doing Lollapalooza, so I'm excited for that, and I am very excited to go back to Atlanta. That's my other favorite music city. Boston's always fun too, because everyone from the hometown drives down and I get to see my family and everything, so that's cool. It's fun!
There's a few tracks on Rx with great live potential. "die for my bitch" has such a danceable hook. What song off the album are you looking forward to playing live?
Surprisingly, "strip club music." We are in rehearsals this week - we started last week - and as of yesterday that's probably my favorite thing live, and I cannot wait.
And lastly, who are your Ones To Watch?
I've been listening non stop to Wet Leg, who is also dropping an album tonight, Sports, and… and and and… that Charli XCX album I love.
ROLE MODEL's Rx is available everywhere you can stream it.