Roses Chat With the Amoeblog Before Show at Sayers Club

Posted by Billy Gil, August 20, 2014 11:37am | Post a Comment

L.A. trio Roses spin out gorgeous tunes that blur the line between dreamy introspection and new-wave pop abandon on their debut EP, Dreamlover. The band, which features ex-Abe Vigoda member Juan Velasquez on guitar with Marc Steinberg on vocals/keyboards and Victor Herrera on bass, will be at Sayers Club tonight for the next Red Bull Sound Select show, along with Tanlines and SISU, who we caught up with yesterday. The show is only $3 with an RSVP and starts at 8 p.m.; hope to see you there!

We spoke with Velasquez a bit about his new band and the recently released Dreamlover before the show.

You guys were friends for a while before becoming a band. Tell me a little bit about how you guys formed.

Well I have known Victor for about eight or so years now. We met at Abe Vigoda shows. He used to come up to shows all the time in L.A. and often by himself, so one day I decided approach him since I recognized him from shows. We hit it off as friends and have been friends ever since!

I met Marc through a mutual friend, they met at a gay bar and we started talking about music and realized we had a lot of the same taste. I made him some mix tapes, and we just became close. Then we thought it would be fun to work on music (at the time Abe Vigoda was on hiatus). I had never really played with anyone outside of my band, so I thought it would be a fun experiment. We wrote one song and recorded it, and I thought it would be cool if Victor would play bass. I sent Vic the song, and he seemed to be into it. After that we just started “jamming” and writing ever since!

What’s your songwriting process like? Do you guys jam till you come up with something? Do any of you come in with bits of songs and then just work on them from there? What about lyrics?

It’s a mix of jamming and some pre-writing. Marc has some solo stuff that he has recorded from the past, and some of that has been worked into our songs. Also one song in particular, I had most of the main riff from an Abe song that never really got finished. Mostly though, it is a joint effort with lots of jamming and editing. Often with our beats at least (since we are not expert beat producers), we find songs that we think have cool drum sounds and will share them and sort of find elements we can use. We are sort of learning off the seat of our pants in that regard, which is really fun since it’s new to all three of us really. As far as lyrics go, that is all Marc; we sort of leave it up to him to come up with that LOL. I like his imagery and happy/sad style that I think works with the instrumentation. I think if I wrote lyrics, they would be really high school and emo ... maybe for a different band.

How did you guys settle on a particular sound? Did you play around with a lot of different ideas before focusing on the kind of dreamy new-wave inspired stuff we hear on Dreamlover?

At first I had this idea that we would be a surf goth noisy kinda thing. Marc has a Farfisa [organ], so I thought it would be cool to use that as a keyboard, and I would play sort of distorted weird atonal goth stuff. Soon we found out it was much easier to let go of that and write more poppy stuff. Our early songs we worked on were a bit darker and more stark. For some reason I held back being being overly ornate with the guitar parts and Marc’s synth tones, but then realized we are too into Cocteau Twins and stuff to not fall into that.

What were some records you guys have been into over the past year or so since you formed?

I think we are all into what our friend has described as “flau” music. Bands like The Cranberries, The Sundays and 10,000 Maniacs. I like the soft guitar playing and how breezy some of it can sound. I think we are maybe more aggressive than that but it does influence us a bit.

Marc I know is super into Billy Idol, and as of late I'm getting really into INXS and The Cars again. We used to cover “Jump In The River” by Sinead O’Connor, so elements of her first two albums I think influence us as well.

The through-line I hear between Roses and your work in Abe Vigoda is your guitarwork, of course. It sounds very much still intricate as it was in Abe but perhaps a bit more treated/effected. Can you tell me a bit about your approach to guitar in this band?

I think since I'm the only person playing guitar in Roses, it has changed the way I feel about playing guitar. I liked the fact that in Abe Vigoda is sort of like me and Michael [Vidal] would compliment each other, so sometimes I would play less prominent parts or vice versa. I think with Roses, I think more in terms of being both rhythm and lead guitar, or sometimes complimenting the synth and underplaying when we want that to pop out more. I think I have become a little more confident in my guitar playing since it’s just me with a guitar up there, although there is still a sort of playing off each other that I do with Victor, since his bass playing sometimes is very lead guitar. It’s fun to sort of focus on the bass and guitar interplay, rather than two guitars riffing off each other.

What’s next? What are you working on now?

We are going on short west coast tour with Slow Club from the U.K. They are good friends that I met through Abe Vigoda Euro tour days. Their new record, Complete Surrender, is amazing and I'm really excited to tour with a legit pop band. They have amazing R&B and Motown elements to their new record, and Rebecca is an amazing performer, so I'm excited to see them every night and maybe even learn a thing or two!!!

We started working on demos for our full length. We probably have 50% of it written and demoed. Most of September will hopefully be us writing stuff for it.

Relevant Tags

Roses (10), Dreamlover (2), Abe Vigoda (14), Juan Velasquez (4), Dream Pop (11), Shoegaze (36), Red Bull Sound Select (28), Interviews (31)