Roses Play Amoeba Night at the Bootleg HiFi Nov. 23

Posted by Billy Gil, November 3, 2014 10:08am | Post a Comment

L.A. new romantics Roses hit the Bootleg HiFi for their November Sunday residency, presented by The Fold. The band plays every Sunday in November, with a new slate of supporting bands each night. Nov. 23 is Amoeba Music Night, featuring Hair Perfect, Crystales and Basement Babies. We’ll be on hand with coupons, buttons and more.

Roses formed last year, following the dissolution of guitarist Juan Velasquez’s old band, Abe Vigoda. Since then, the band has played live extensively, with bands such as A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Diiv, as well as at Amoeba's Red Bull Sound Select show back in August with Tanlines, and they released the Dreamlover EP this year on Group Tightener. Velasquez, a veteran of Amoeba, and singer/keyboardist Marc Steinberg sat down to talk with us a bit about his new band and what they have going on into the new year.

Your sound borrows elements of new wave, dream pop and alternative without really subscribing to one sound. What’s the idea behind the Roses sound?

Velasquez: I think it took us a while to develop where we wanted to go with the sound. It’s not a particularly calculated thing. I think we just find sounds and ideas in music all the time that we all agree on and get excited about and try to incorporate them into our songwriting. Sometimes it can be as simple as a clave in some beat in a song or “vibe” we get from a Billy Idol or Cranberries song, or the idea of incorporating an animal sound into a song just to see if its funny or if its good. The main idea I think is to try anything, any sound, any genre, any chord progression as long as the songwriting is exciting and hopefully strong.

There’s a real sense of romance to these songs but in sort of a sad, introspective way, like going through a breakup and still coming out of it hopeful. Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics and the overall feel of these songs?

Steinberg: Our songs are usually either about loneliness or existential dread. When they are romantic they are love songs for someone I haven't met yet, or they lament the lack of love in a relationship. I wouldn't say they are breakup songs, or even really hopeful. They're more nihilistic than that.

Tell us a bit more about the Dreamlover EP along with what you’re working on now.

Velasquez: Dreamlover is a collection of four songs (our oldest songs) that made it through the demo/testing out live process of about a year. There are many songs that didn’t make the cut that we sort of dropped from our live sets as well.

It was recorded with Alex DeGroot (Other Faces/Zola Jesus). He recorded the demos for these tracks as well. Alex has been super supportive and helpful to us not just recording but producing as well and attending a bunch of our shows and as of recently even doing live sound for us. I feel like he is sort of the unofficial fourth member. He definitely gets what we want to do and helps us out when we are stuck with something.

Currently, we recorded five songs in the studio with Alex that I hope will be half of our full-length. They are still unmixed and can use more work and even some rewriting/revision, but I feel like we are the right track. Alex definitely took on a more production role on the new material and overall we feel more comfortable recording and exploring new territory with our eventual full-length.

Juan, you were in Abe Vigoda before this. What made you want to start a new band, and do you see any elements continuing from that band to this one?

Velasquez: After Abe Vigoda, I pretty much felt like I didn’t want to do music anymore, at least for a while. I was pretty sad about how things fizzled out with that band that I was in since high school, so I took a self-imposed break from music (even going to shows) and sort of lost touch with the DIY scene in L.A. After about a year of that, I realized I needed to be creative somehow, and that’s how Roses started basically. I lucked out with Victor [Herrera, bass] and Marc because we mesh well and have a good back and forth and all that stuff.

As far as elements from Abe to Roses, I guess its just I took what I learned being in a full-time touring band to this band. More of the organizational side of stuff. Also I feel much more patient now (could be because I’m older).

It felt kind of good to start over. There are many very different things in Roses, such as not having a drummer and just the dynamic is very different. I am still me though, and some of my “style” of guitar playing (which is more like lack of real knowledge of guitar lol) translates into Roses. But I feel more pressure, in a good way, since now I am the only guitarist in the band. I feel like I had to learn to write different kinds of guitar parts and feel more confident with writing guitar parts now.

Post-punk is well-trodden territory for inspiration, but you guys call to mind some lesser-mined corners of it, the feel of female-fronted bands like The Cranberries and 10,000 Maniacs along with the guitar/synth sound of more obscure bands like The Wake or Cleaners from Venus and the vibe of lost ’80s pop hits. What are some songs or bands you guys draw from that differ from what people might expect?  

Velasquez: Marc is pretty into Billy Idol, and we even did a cover of “Dancing With Myself” last Halloween. I think that at least for me B-52’s continue to be a big inspiration. When writing new beats, we have referenced Kate Bush and Grace Jones and always Prince. Some of the newer stuff has a ’90s dance pop vibe like Saint Etienne. I personally love indie dance stuff like Cut Copy and Junior Boys, and I’m not sure if that comes through or not, but I know its something I think about when writing more dancey songs.

I think that we are just trying to write good pop songs that don’t song too generic even when the things that influence and inspire me can be seen as generic pop, so its hard to pinpoint exact influences or songs.

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Basement Babies (1), Interviews (31), Crystales (2), Shoegaze (36), Dream Pop (11), Juan Velasquez (4), Abe Vigoda (14), Dreamlover (2), Roses (10), Hair Perfect (1), Amoeba Music Night (1)