When the weather turns warm, concert season arrives. Showtime’s Roadies takes viewers into the world of live music, to the traveling circus that is the backstage crew of the fictitious Staton-House Band. Series star Luke Wilson imagines them as a Pearl Jam-like group — no longer the new kids on the music scene, but still enjoying the longevity and fan base that fills arenas around the world.
The series focuses on the strange, silly, wonderful, poignant behind-the-scenes world of this band, and Wilson and Carla Gugino play their tour manager and production manager — the de facto parents of this weird little family. “My character Bill gets to be like the cool dad,” Wilson laughs. “In the show it really does become like a family. It’s like a cliché. I always think, ‘Oh, there’s got to be a better way to describe it,’ but there’s really not.”
When watching the series pilot, I discovered a profound appreciation for the magnitude of work that goes into putting on a major stage show. “There’s still nothing like when the lights go down,” says series creator, writer, director and executive producer Cameron Crowe, in his first foray into television. “That’s what we base each episode around. The show isn’t about the big performance you get from a star but everything that goes into setting a stage for that.”
The spectacle isn’t lost on Wilson either. “It reminds me of when I’d have friends from Texas come out and visit a movie set. They were always more blown away by the 18-wheelers, the lights and all the guys, as opposed to what was being shot in the scene. You can’t believe it when you first see it, the amount of equipment and teamsters, and guys on rigging putting lights up, the manual labor that goes into the ‘party’ of the show.”
Wilson says that the Huey Lewis show he attended in the seventh grade may have been his first concert, and says he has always been awestruck by the behind-the-scenes world of touring musicians. “I was like one of those kids where I’d go to a show and see the guy coming out dressed in black with the guitar and fans would cheer because they’d think it was a band member but then they’d stop. But I was always saying, ‘Who’s that guy? He looks cool. He must know the band! He hands the guitar right to Angus Young!’”
“I love music and stories where music is a character,” Crowe told journalists at the TCA winter press tour. And to get us in the groove of the series, Crowe sent a playlist of music that he curated from his encyclopedic music memory. He included deep cuts from artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Machine Gun Kelly and The Weeknd. Crowe shares that each episode will feature up-and-coming musicians who will perform original songs in the show. In the series pilot, the limelight falls on indie-folk darlings The Head and the Heart.
Along with Roadies’ incredible music and summer camp-like vibe, there is a wistful nostalgia that colors the series. Wilson attributes the sentiment to the vagabond lifestyle that the characters live and their codependent microcosm, which is fueled by “the fear of going home to nothing and not going on to another town. … I just remember reading about Slash [formerly of Guns N’ Roses] getting off tour and saying it was the worst time ever.”
Roadies > Showtime > Sundays at 10pm ET/PT, beginning June 26