As a drummer in Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose is well versed in girl-pop rave-ups and lo-fi, distortion-drenched garage rock. But the multi-talented Rose also plays guitar, sings and writes songs, and her 2010 release, Frankie Rose and the Outs, synthesized all of those familiar, complementary sounds into an album that was hers and hers alone.
Not one to rest comfortably for very long, Rose dropped the Outs, enlisted personal friend/producer/remixer/Fisherspooner touring member Le Chev and released her follow-up, Interstellar, in February. While still drawing from a strong pop-sensibility, Interstellar ditches the once ever-present walls of reverb and replaces them with walls of synth, taking the overall vibe from the garage to the dream world, resulting in a sound more like New Order than Phil Spector.
Rose is currently on a headlining tour and was gracious enough to take some time before her Wednesday night show at the Soda Bar to talk about the new album, changing the sound and what’s coming next.
Scott McDonald: Hi. How’s it going?
Frankie Rose: I actually just woke up from a nap about two seconds ago.
SM: Well, I’m sorry for waking you.
FR: [laughs] Actually, you didn’t. It’s funny, but I woke up on my own. Just good timing. And, hey, now I’m well-rested.
SM: That’s good. You’ll need it for this upcoming tour.
FR: Yeah, it’s the longest tour I’ve gone on in something like two or three years, I think. But it’s going to be good. I’m looking forward to that point where you have enough shows under your belt that the band sounds awesome and you’re totally confident onstage. I haven’t been like that with a band in a long time.
SM: You don’t like it up until that point?
FR: Well, there are definitely aspects of touring that I don’t like at all -- that’s for sure -- but now I can do it all my own way, and that’s great, because I can do it exactly like I want to do it.
SM: The new album is great, but it’s certainly a departure from what you’ve done in the past.
FR: I don’t think I could -- nor did I want to -- make the same album twice. I just don’t find that interesting at all. And I hope my third album is different than my second. I hope I always grow and mature from one album to the next.
SM: I think your time in the other bands has made people come to expect a certain sound from you. Interstellar seems to confirm that you have a few more tricks up your sleeve.
FR: I hope so. I definitely wanted to make something different. My ears were getting tired of the same sounds that have been rehashed over and over again. And I really didn’t know exactly how I wanted it to sound when I first started working on the album. I just knew I wanted it to be different. I ended up with something even bigger than I thought I was working on at the time, and I think that has a lot to do with my producer.
SM: How did you hook up with Le Chev?
FR: We’re actually really good friends. He’s really into dance music and has very different taste in music than I do across the board. I originally started recording this album with someone else, but when we started coming away with very similar results to the first album, I started getting scared. I didn’t want that. I knew I wanted something different, and I rolled the dice with Le Chev because our tastes in music are really so different. I thought it could go one of two ways, and one of them was really badly [laughs]. It could’ve been great, or it could’ve been so weird that I didn’t even like it myself. And that would have been terrible. But I think our styles really ended up complementing each other. He’s very heavy-handed, makes big decisions and is, a lot of the time, over-the-top. And I’m really good at saying. “We’ll edit that later.” Between the two, what we ended up with was Interstellar.
SM: It sounds like you ended up with what you wanted.
FR: Absolutely. But I knew a lot of what I wanted in the first place. I wanted synths on the record, and I wanted sampled drums. And both of those things really match with Le Chev’s arena, so I got really lucky. And I’m glad that I made that decision, because I almost didn’t.
SM: Have you even thought about the next record? Will it change again?
FR: Well, I don’t think that the songwriting has changed that much at all. I think I’ve become a better songwriter, and I think the songs are better, but I know a lot more about how to make an album these days. But as far as the sound goes, I think I’d like to work with Le Chev again. I loved it. It was so easy and fun. That’s what I know for sure. But as far as exactly what it’s going to sound like, I have absolutely no idea. This time, I really had to distance myself from the first record -- not even think about it. I like to focus on what’s inspiring me now. It’s important to leave the past behind. So, it’s impossible to know what that will be when the time comes. I’m just not in that mental space yet. But I doubt that it will be Interstellar all over again. But I’ve been thinking about doing something with live strings.
SM: Nice. Being out front now when you tour, do you miss sitting behind the kit?
FR: Gosh, no. Not really. I only ended up playing the drums so much because it’s so hard to find a drummer most of the time [laughs]. I’m so not kidding you. Everyone always needs a drummer. But I don’t think I really like one more than the other. Singing and playing the guitar is definitely more challenging. And being a frontwoman is challenging and terrifying. It’s a bit easier to be behind the drums and not be responsible for things like stage banter, etc [laughs].
SM: Despite the challenges, it has to be great doing your own thing.
FR: Oh, yeah. It’s great to have the opportunity to see what kind of performer I can become. It’s like every show is the first show. It’s true. I never have the same band behind me, or we’re always trying some new song. It’s always something. But it’s very exciting to see what happens next. I mean, so far, so amazing. I can’t even believe it. I always thought I’d be stuck in the service industry. I wake up every day and find it hard to believe I’m a musician. It was a complete accident, and I feel like a pretty lucky person.