Stop and See the Roses This Saturday…

Photo courtesy of the band

Milwaukee’s Roses formed in the blustery month of February, but their sound is as un-reminiscent of their birth-month as it could be. The characteristics they do seem to share with the climate of our frozen precipitation-prone city is that of tenacity and hardiness. Only a few months old, they have demonstrated this same tenacity in chomping into several shows and already beginning work on recording. Roses explained just what it takes to have the tenacity of a wooly mammoth…

Fan-belt Erin: So, how have things been going for Roses, lately?

Roses: In general, well — we’ve played a couple of shows that we’re pretty proud of. The weather has been better lately, and the fact that we don’t want to cry when we go outside is great. For a while it seemed like we would go to practice convinced that when we left there wouldn’t be two inches of fresh snow and then of course, there it would be. Snow angels are only cute for so long, you know?

Fan-belt Erin: When you formed the band, what did you have in mind in terms of sound? You’ve got an interesting element with the violin…

Roses: At the time Caity and Charlie were planning to start a more quiet, Dirty Three-meets-Low type of drum and violin band, but Andy and Jarrett were around when they were going to have their first practice, and we all got together instead. We all come from pretty different musical backgrounds but we found a common ground in country music and decided to follow those roots. When we’re writing (and this sounds kind of cliché) but everyone’s various styles come to the surface and blend in a pretty comfortable way…er, for us at least. Jarret’s got a real bluegrass background – he works out the basic melodies and lyrics, and then Andy and Charlie, who grew up together as emo-ish kids (*cough, cough*, Promise Ring!), help him flesh the songs out. Caity tries to be as unique as she can with the violin – she’s been playing since she was four and has had some serious classical training – so she comes up with lots of ideas for herself and tells us when we just plain suck. When we initially set out and decided to keep the band down to just us four, we told Caity that she had to fill the same place that the second guitar would. Our sound totally revolves around her.

Fan-belt Erin: Describe your sound to the folks who might have never heard you…what/who are some of your influences?

Roses: When we played in Appleton one of the flyers described us as “cute indie-ish folk rock from Milwaukee with violin”. I guess that describes it, but we like to believe that the ‘cute’ part refers to our looks, not our sound, ha, ha. People say we sound like Whiskeytown and that’s flattering enough, in itself. We suppose that the Dirty Three is a big influence, and Low – but you wouldn’t really be able to tell. When we formed the band, we were all listening to a lot of Okkervil River, Bon Iver, and Rocky Votolato. We think that shows, sometimes. The Band is our main touchstone though – they always will be.

Fan-belt Erin: Since you’re a relatively new band (four months, right?) are you in the ‘winging it’ stage right now with ideas for writing, recording and shows, or do you feel like you’re on pretty solid ground?

Roses: Yeah, we formed in the end of February, but we feel like we’re on pretty solid ground. We’re all really close friends, so it’s pretty easy to communicate in a group setting, and we all knew what our goals were when we formed the band. We spent a lot of time together talking and figuring ourselves out. Recording really helped us solidify our sound. We’re trying to be pretty serious about everything and play the absolute best that we can. Writing comes at Jarrett’s pace, but we’ve been pretty comfortable with cranking songs out when the mood strikes.

Fan-belt Erin: Tell me about recording up in Oshkosh…where and with whom? Are you happy with how things went? When can we expect to see an EP?

Roses: Our friend Adam Nero gave us a great opportunity and we went up to record at the University of Oshkosh for a weekend. He’s a student there, and he has free access to their professional equipment, so it was really pretty lucky. All in all it was an interesting learning experience. We got to see how we react to each other in the studio in a less do-or-die type situation. We spent the majority of the weekend living off of Vitamin Water and Primal Strips with very little sleep. The results have been pleasing so far! Adam’s still working on some mixes, and when we get stuff finished up, we’re thinking about a 7-inch or something. Well just have to wait and see?

Fan-belt Erin: Tell me about the show at Cactus on Saturday…got any secrets to share?

Roses: We don’t know, if we tell you than they wouldn’t be secrets, would they? Is that coy enough? Rumor is that Brief Candles has some new songs, and Sleepcomesdown is Milwaukee’s dirty little secret. This is a cheesy answer. Andy wants to say hello to Quinn Scharber, ‘cause he loves him — that ‘box of wine’ song is our summer jam. This interview is falling apart — go save yourself!

Roses will appear alongside Brief Candles and Sleepcomesdown, this Saturday, May 7th, at the Cactus Club, 2496 South Wentworth Avenue. Show starts at 10 p.m.

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