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ROLE MODEL Searches for Peace in Perfection

ROLE MODEL finds peace in his perfectionism, leading to his debut album, Rx. He breaks down his process for Audiomack World.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

If it wasn’t for Mac Miller, ROLE MODEL would have quit music. The pop singer-songwriter born Tucker Pillsbury originally went to college in Pittsburgh for film before discovering music at the end of his freshman year. From there, he dove headfirst into the craft to the point of failing his classes. When he released his first EP in 2017, Arizona In The Summer, Tucker gave himself one month to make it.

“Somewhere in that month, Mac Miller’s management told me Mac loves ‘stolen car,’ and we got to meet and the label stuff started happening,” Tucker shares with Audiomack World. “The biggest thing that sold me was that Mac and Q [Quentin Cuff, Mac’s friend and tour manager] believed in me at a crucial point where I was honestly about to quit. That gave me the confidence to be like, ‘Okay, this can work.’”

Things happened quickly from there—Tucker signed to Interscope, and he released a pair of EPs in 2019 and 2020 that cataloged his life as a single guy who was more content to lock himself in the studio for a week than anything else. oh, how perfect and our little angel were at once polished and rough-hewn. ROLE MODEL as a project was quickly defined as approachable vulnerability—the moment at the party where the conversation turns from bullshit to emotions, without being overbearing.

Tucker and his producer Spencer Stewart worked on his debut album Rx, released last month, for two “mentally destructive” years. Obsession and perfectionism made the album process painful but to great success. Originally a batch of love songs, Rx skews more toward upbeat variety than simple declarations of passion: see “forever&more,” “if jesus saves, she’s my type,” and “neverletyougo.” The album pulls from Arizona, with a refined edge.

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The final three songs on the album are a personal crescendo for Tucker, detailing a friendless LA landscape and the pursuit of staying grounded. “I love ‘can you say the same,’ because it was a song I put on there that was more for me,” he says. “That one was for me to have and listen to on my own.”

Rx slots neatly into easygoing parties, nights in with your partner, or sunrise walks—which Tucker calls me a trooper for taking every day. It’s an obviously pored-over debut album, and one that has helped ROLE MODEL discover peace in the creative process.

How did you know it was music or bust?

When I found music, it was the end of my freshman year in college and I was super passionate about film at the time. I went to school for film, and music was not remotely in my plan—no music in my family, and no idea that I could do it myself. I discovered music and I fell in love, immediately, to the point where I was failing school.

Not counting the new album, what’s your favorite song of yours you’ve released so far?

I would go back in the other direction, to Arizona. Maybe “stolen car” or “i don’t rlly like u.” I still love those songs a lot.

I can hear “super model” in “stripclub music.”

That’s amazing because those two songs were created around the same time.

So you held onto it for five years?

It was a while. The very first version of [“stripclub music”] was in 2017 or 2018. That was the first version, and then there were three or four others before we dove into the album process.

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Are you a demos guy, or do you labor over one song forever?

I would say the second. I used to just make three songs a day. That’s an impressive way to work, to get mediocre work. Now, with how obsessive I am and so is my producer Spencer Stewart, we obsess over every little piece of every song. It takes a lot of time now, but I like it that way.

Was there any perfectionism holding you back with the new album, Rx?

The two years working on the album was miserable. Obviously full of beautiful moments, but the mental destruction that goes on—it’s unnecessary pressure. There’s no need to be like, beating myself up every night and crying over shit.

How do you get to a peaceful place with it?

Spencer helps me understand [peace]. It’s me putting the pressure on, so having Spencer is nice to calm me down. Then as soon as I go home, I try to not think about music. I try to watch something stupid and go to bed.

What’s the hardest thing about being ROLE MODEL?

I don’t think I have a right to complain about anything yet. It hasn’t gotten too crazy—it’s cool. I have very respectful fans online and in real life. I have no complaints. It’s too early for me to be picky with the career I chose.

How much of Tucker is in ROLE MODEL, and how much of ROLE MODEL is in Tucker?

See, I used to say it’s the same person. But my stage presence has changed quite a bit in the past two years from early touring, where I was just standing still with my hand in my pocket. If you were to ask my touring team, it would be two completely different people. When I’m on the stage, I’m doing all my weird shit. As soon as I get on the bus, I’m dead silent and I hide in my cubby. I don’t talk to anyone.

Now, it’s two different people, for sure.

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How does Tucker make himself happy?

It’s music. My music taste has changed a lot in the pandemic. It’s all music that comforts me—a lot of stuff that my mom listened to; Neil Young and shit that helps me breathe a little bit. I go on drives to nowhere and listen to music. I go on hikes in the morning so I’m not just sitting in the studio all day.

It’s good to be alone, too.

It’s good to fully experience things and take things in—it’s good to experience things alone. Go to concerts alone, go on walks alone, anything.

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