James Tutson and The Rollback to play newest songs at upcoming Big Grove performance

A lawyer, a chemist, a software consultant, a German professor, and a youth organizer all make up James Tutson and The Rollback, the soul band premiering their new album at Big Grove Brewery.



Austin J. Yerington, Arts Reporter

In a warmly lit living room, the members of Iowa City-based band, James Tutson and The Rollback, told stories, teased each other, and laughed. The band will perform at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom premiering their new album Make You Free. on Nov. 15.

Singer and guitarist Tutson, who proudly identifies the band as “a bunch of dads out there playing music,” said the group has played with several different genres since its start in 2016.

Members of the band called their early work soft rock, gospel, and soul. The evolution of styles has been a way for them to find their original sound, Tutson said. He quoted writer James Baldwin when describing the band’s process.

“(Baldwin) talks about how every author has just one story, and they are trying to tell it more true over time, telling it over and over again till they get their story down,” Tutson said. “[And with our band] I feel like I’m honing in on what’s my sound, what the band’s sound is, what are we actually trying to accomplish here.”

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The now six-piece band is a unique set of musicians with a variety of different day jobs. Bassist Haven Wojciak is a lawyer, drummer Tyler Carrington is German professor at Cornell College, while the others’ occupations include software consultant, chemist, and youth organizer. Yet, JTBR lets them express a side of themselves they don’t get to do in their other vocations.

“I get so much joy, friends, that creative fulfillment,” lawyer and bassist Haven Wojciak said. “And just the synergy that is created with us, six guys creating one thing is amazing is so much fun.”

The band has now stepped back into the studio for their second album Make You Free. The new record focuses on the band’s songwriting, who hope to present the fears that can come with age, such as fatherhood.  The upcoming album is also the first time the full band has officially collaborated on a full-studio album.

“Each of us were able to put our input in and have our own styles,” guitarist, Heath Hospodarsky said. “That’s the beauty of it, we collaborated really well on this and I think it shows in the recording.”

The new album has a constant heartbeat throughout that almost makes each feel like the thumping of a church congregation clapping along with the melodies. The result can be attributed to Tutson’s past involvement with church choirs since he is very young.

“I’ve been singing gospel my whole life,” Tutson said. “Additionally, I’m really into spirituals, that whole idea that a big piece of my history and culture was ‘my people were enslaved, but they still sang.’ They were free in that way, singing to lift spirits, and no one can take that away. So that’s centered to the sound I want to create, so I try my best to bring those two things in.”

With many of the members in their 30s, the idea of a being late bloomers in the industry is firm in their minds.

“I feel like that’s my whole life — where I get to these points later in life than everyone else.” Tutson said. “I’ve kind of become really grateful for it now we’ve gotten to a point where we have a really great band, and we’re making really great music.”

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