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The tranquil beauty of Roger, Roll's ambient pop is as soothing as it arresting

In 2007, Eric Peterson and Patrick Kelly started Roger, Roll with some mutual friends. At the act's earliest shows, songs were split between atmospherically immersive space rock and lush, pastoral numbers of a meditative transcendence that could alternately be described as abstract Americana and dream pop. At the same time, the songs never really fit into any specific category.

The act went on hiatus the following year when Kelly moved to the East Coast. Peterson, however, worked on songs between being a full-time student and playing in other bands like Houses, Old Radio and Hindershot, and the result is the latest release, a two-song seven-inch called Polaroid in Reverse. Going further into ambient-pop territory, the tranquil beauty of the record is as soothing as it arresting. We spoke with Peterson about the idea behind this release, as well as how he all but accidentally became a drummer and a guitarist.

Westword: Why do you call your new seven-inch Polaroid in Reverse?

Eric Peterson: It's a thematic thing. Most of the songs deal with memory and documentation. It all ties in with how the records were made. They weren't pressed; they were lathe-cut. Instead of pressing hundreds of copies of a record, each record is cut individually with a diamond-tipped lathe or whatever.

With that process, the grooves aren't quite as permanent, so with each play, it deteriorates the record a little bit. Which is a little bit like memory. Your memory gradually fades over time, and you don't remember older experiences quite as well. Same way with this record: It deteriorates over time to the point where you won't be able to listen to it. You get a digital-download card with it, by the way. In that way, it's like a Polaroid in reverse, which is referenced in the first song, "Foreword."

How did you come up with the name for the band? It sounds like a quote from a book.

Originally, Roger, Roll was going to be a space-rock band, so it was a reference to when the space shuttle does its roll maneuver. When I did a Google search for it in the beginning, the only things that came up were references to the Challenger explosion. Now, it's all the band, and I'm happy about that.

You're a multi-instrumentalist. Did you learn that all on your own, or did you have formal training?

The only training I had was piano lessons as a kid, and I think I did violin in middle school or something. Otherwise, it's been self-taught, except for the drums, which I learned by playing a precursor to Rock Band called Drum Mania. It was an arcade game I played when I went to Tokyo, where my mom is from, one summer. I must have spent a hundred bucks on it. If you can do a couple of songs on hard mode, you can pretty much play the drums.