As a teen music journalist writing for an underground publication and conversing with the likes of Lester Bangs (musician-turned-journalist and the editor of rock magazine Creem), Cameron Crowe would soon become the ultimate roadie, meeting the editor of Rolling Stone at 15 and joining his staff. Accompanying musicians on tour while covering them would later be the basis of his film Almost Famous, which stars Kate Hudson in her breakout role. With numerous film credits to his name today, Crowe brings his magic to the small screen with Roadies, premiering this Sunday on Showtime.
One of the show's stars, alongside Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino, is Peter Cambor who played Barry, Brianna's (June Diane Raphael) love interest on the Netflix hit Grace & Frankie. In Roadies, Cambor is Milo, an offbeat, yet oddly charming guitar tech who is not big into personal hygiene but loves to fake a British accent -- even when his authentically British boss thinks he's in mocking mode.I spoke to Cambor and bit back my curiosity on what it's like to stand next to hilarious, overall cool chick June Diane Raphael (my girl crush!) on Grace & Frankie to solely focus on Roadies. It wasn't too difficult since I was rapt watching the latter -- twice!
Cambor's character, like the other roadies, is incredibly quirky and almost certainly based on someone Cameron Crowe came across while touring with the bands.
Cambor and I joked about how different Milo is from Barry, the preppy ad exec with glasses and a beard, saying that the Showtime executives didn't recognize him from the prior role. "I read for the part of the guy who developed a thick English persona because he'd previously toured with Elvis Costello. Milo is the type of guy that embodies the stereotype of the great rocker he's been around, so if it had been Bruce Springsteen, he'd be wearing a bandanna, white t-shirt and jeans."
A bass tech for the Staton-House Band, Milo is what Cambor describes as "neurotic, a conspiracy theorist type, who fits a stereotype of some of the people you see on the road." His articulation is pretty believable in my own opinion, but Cambor draws a comparison between his character's adoption of the accent and Madonna's (quasi) Brit speak.
"Personalities very easily rub off on Milo," says Cambor.
We discuss what is most notable to me about the series, this subculture I previously knew nothing about. Roadies have been around as long as rock and rollers have, but as with anything over time, the roadie culture is hit by change and clashes of newer, modern methods versus the old -- while the "old" would prefer to be called "classic" and preside. A roadie named Phil (Ron White) represents that classic of the profession, reminiscent of the late "Red Dog," renowned roadie for the Allman Brothers. Without giving too much away, something happens with Phil in the premiere that highlights how much rock and roll has changed from the old days. What is clear from these eclectic characters, including young Kelly Anne (Imogen Poots) who is overwhelmingly passionate about music but headed to NYC film school, is that they are a family banded together by love for making concerts great.
"Cameron Crowe's message throughout his films -- and now through this show -- is that 'Music is the fabric that keeps us together," says Cambor. "It is these life moments that he understands so well. We see this with John Cusack in 'Say Anything' when he holds the boom box above his head. Cameron is so good at understanding the emotional and psychological moments we all had through music, and he brings it through, allowing us to relive those moments. As the world has evolved with the Internet, there is so much snark and edge and what you say can be said behind a computer screen. Roadies is based on those people who aren't hiding behind screens but all coming together at an event -- In Real Life. It's about a spectacle that is also a sacred sort of ritual. It's primal and beautiful -- what they do -- and we see how roadies don't get the proper credit for it."
A naif to roadie culture myself until I was privileged with a sneak peek of the show, my thoughts of Tom Petty pretty narrowly turn to "Free Fallin." However, it was this very talented multi-hit musician who once said: "I think the general public has no idea what roadies do. Bless 'em all. I just play the songs. They make the show happen." You will see this exact quote in the opening credits, and believe me, you won't want to miss the full experience.
The 10 episode series begins June 26th at 10 PM on Showtime.