The trumpet shined beneath buried treasures, and Erin Roberts took it home to give it a new life. What she didn’t know at the time was the life this trumpet was going to give her. Erin is the face of the revolving band, Porlolo. The new release, Awards, hit the shelves on April 27, produced and engineered by James Barone (Beach House). Players on the alum include Anna Morsett (The Still Tide, Brent Cowles), Jake Miller (Esmé Patterson, The Still Tide, Brent Cowles), Tom Mohr, James Barone (Beach House), and Pat Meese (Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats).
Music has always been a big part of Erin’s life; her parents had an old receiver and records. In the car, they listened to their favorite songs, and it rubbed off on her. However, in the fourth grade, Erin became more than an avid listener; she became a performer and a student of the melody her heart loved. Roberts found a trumpet at an old garage sale around that time, the classical band started at school, and she started playing the trumpet. She continued to learn the art all through college participating mainly in classical ensembles.
Porlolo isn’t a classical ensemble, however, and it is a rare sight to see Erin perform the trumpet. Her rock roots developed back to high school where her relationship with music changed. “In high school, I would sit in my room and pour over new music. It has always been something I feel connected to. Being exposed to a different culture that music implied.” She grew up in a small town in an era where an album release was on vinyl, and her only contact with it was to purchase the release and bring it home. There was no internet, and a new release was a pretty big deal. Her influencers shifted from Concerto for Trumpet in E flat major to studying grunge music and digging into its culture and scene. Her interest shifted to bands like Dischord, Fugazi, Lungfish, Nirvana, and REM.
“I lived in a small town in Indiana. I would hear these bands and pour through their artwork. This was before the internet, so you would get a hint of what else is out there. In the mid/early 90’s information wasn’t everywhere so I would pour over these record covers and liner notes and sort of feel like, Oh my Gosh there is something way more sophisticated and weird out there and I want in. I want to be a part of that. It was the new emergent music where people dressed differently than people in my town.”
Erin started playing in Ska Bands when she was at the University of Illinois. That was the first time she played outside the classical setting. Erin graduated and moved to Colorado and continued to play the trumpet in different styles of bands. She was in a few bands. During that time Roberts was teaching herself to play the guitar and songwrite. She had roommates in Boulder, and she would sit on the porch and play songs all day. For fun, they played as a band. One day her main group, Dog Paloma couldn’t show up for their gig. The roommates stepped in and pretended to be Dog Paloma that night. That was the night Porlolo was born.
“We had six songs, and we were terrified to play, but it was really fun, and that solidified the band.” Around the same time, she recorded a split EP with Roger Greene. She was gaining attention and went to SXSW. The movement was happening fast. “At that point, I had never considered music was something I would try to do for a living or be in the music industry. It was just enjoyable to play music with my friends. I like this community of people playing music. We did not take ourselves seriously. We had so many opportunities but the timing was wrong, and we were not professional.” That experience with Roger taught her a lot about what it takes to be a band and even what she wants out of her group.
Porlolo is Ben Desoto on drums, Anna Morsett on bass, and Jake Miller and Tom Moore on guitar. Session musicians join often. There is an organic collective from Denver that plays and work together on many iterations. Porlolo has such a foundation in hooky pop music like the 90’s bands Nirvana and REM. Their new LP is memorable and transcendent with a sound like no other.
“I am super proud of the fact that the band has had longevity and we continue to put out music, and we continue to grow as an artist. It is fun. It is collaborative. It is a joyful experience. Porlolo has always been a rotating cast. For years there would be a different lineup in every show.”