By: Harrison Giza
Oh, Rose is something to splendor in. From the magical land of Olympia, Washington, the group are a mash of psychedelic-folk rock that nails sweetness, cutthroat vocals, and body-shaking instrumental work. The drums are in top form, and, as if it couldn’t get any better, the guitar is as memorable as it is original.
Sure, you can probably guess a lot of influences, but that is the first mark of a truly great band. When I throw on Oh, Rose, I feel like I’m listening to a lost Joni Mitchell performance, but with more drunken smiling and dark brims of “didn’t see that coming” lyricism. They should be bigger by now… seeing as how consistent their releases has been for the past year or so.
These guys are so cool, they invite people to their shows through burrito letters. It’s as adorable as it is smart.
Their latest release, “1919,” is a shocking hammer-thrown-into-my-Marshall stack power that should be heard seventeen times and eighteen more for good measure. Put on “A date at The Guest House” next to see how far the band can make their music change right before your ears.
To me, they have the underrating of Elle Fanning to Florence and the Machine’s over-bloated stay as folk rock titans. Olivia Rose should be the one mentioned in Rolling Stone.
I talked with Olivia primarily. She is the singer and guitarist, but as the she spoke, Sarah Redden (keys), Liam Hindahl (drums) and Kevin Christopher (who plays bass but was taking a nap at the time) were there for an answer or two.
HG: Right from the moment “Lottery” starts, you know this song is building something. Where did the song come from?
OR: Losing scratch-offs, losing touch, gaining life speed, building a community and destroying anything that holds ya back! hahahhaa I dunno. The song was created on an acoustic guitar but totally changed during one of our first band practices. Liam went ape shit on drums and Stephen (who also plays bass in Oh, Rose but was unable to come on tour cause he is trekking around in Europe) followed in pursuit. It became fast and loud and righteous. Liam still gets winded at the end, especially if he’s been drinking.
HG: I love the cover for “That Do See.” tell me about how that picture came about.
OR: The photo was taken by our good friend Paul Elliott. He is a wonderful photographer but also a sneaky little bastard, I didn’t even know the photo was being taken! I can tell you that I was sitting in the back yard of The Guest House in Olympia at night, maybe after a house show, maybe after recording, maybe after having breakfast or beers. I think Paul is actually the only person who has managed to take any photos of us as a band (there is only one and you can’t see our faces), or any “official” photo we have used. You can see why at elliottpaul.tumblr.com
HG: Do you know the emotions and sound of a song you’re writing before you’re done with it?
OR:I would say that the emotion that comes through each song is very situational. I think I know the emotion of a song when I begin to write it, however it often changes and evolves the more it is played, and certainly with a full band. I think our songs cover a whole spectrum of emotion especially during a live show. It’s funny because we could play the same 8-10 songs every night but depending on the order of which they are played it can create an entirely different mood for us and the audience. We have been having a lot of fun with set lists and switches on this tour.
HG: I love “Prom” and have a guess where it came from. Elaborate for me?
OR: Where do YOU think it came from? I think I am more interested in your answer than mine. In terms of the literal name of the song, “Prom,” none of us ever went. If that’s what you meant.
HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.
OR: Not to the one we just had in Columbus.
OR: (continued) We take our breakfast together, and enjoy having it outside.
Sarah: romaine lettuce and peppermints.
Liam: ranch dressing and other health foods.
Olivia: Kevin is still sleeping, but I can tell you wholeheartedly that breakfast is his #1. He won’t eat eggs without ketchup. For me, waking up at around 1PM after a long night of shenanigans dragging ass to buy ingredients for whateverbreakfastyawant, cooking whateverbreakfastyawant with all your friends and finally eating at around 4PM. The best.
HG: How do you know when to end a song?
OR: I don’t!
HG: One of the best things about Oh, Rose – to me at least – is your ability to change styles. “That Do Now” and “1919” are quite different. Do you think other artists should embrace change with each record or is it better to stick to what the fans want?
OR: People should do whatever the hell they want! (laughs). I mean, what feels right to them. I think it goes hand in hand with the third question involving expression of emotions through music. As humans we feel an incredibly broad spectrum of emotion, and that usually transcends in art. We are a relatively young band and don’t have the pressures of sticking to one sound or another, and are having fun experimenting. I hope we never lose that, because it makes putting together an album as well as live shows interesting and very feeling-based. The styles and sounds may be different from song to song but I can guarantee the finished product makes sense, at least to us.
HG: What is your guilty pleasure song?
OR: Well! I could list individually BUT there is this one song that we will play during very special live shows called “Cervix Remix.” I wrote it a couple years back before I left NC. It gets some pretty great reactions, one of those songs you just have to hear live. BUT I can tell you it’s a mashup of Britney Spears “I’m A Slave 4 U,” Khia’s “My Neck, My Back,” and a couple lines by yours truly:
OR:”Ima show you where my g-spot is… Ima show you where my cervix exists.”
HG: “Death in a big city” has one of the best Jesus jokes I’ve ever heard. Who told you it?
OR: Sarah! She went through a phrase where she was making vegetable-Jesus puns. here’s another: little angels go up to Eve and is like “Eve! your garden looks so good this year it’s a total gem!” and Eve looks up at the little angel and says “24 carrots.”
HG: How long have you been singing for Olivia? Any lessons?
OR: I’m not going to pull the “since I can remember” card. Around middle school is the first time I can say I felt confident in singing for other people. I was in a chorus class and my teacher, Angela Benton, encouraged all of us to audition for a solo for the Martin Luther King Day parade. The song was “I’m Free.” My first attempt was a squeak of a note, I was so nervous. She looked right at me and said, “GIRL I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT! NOW SING!” And I did. Thanks, Mrs. Benton (I was pretty much over chorus class after you left).
HG: Tell me about your live shows. What can fans expect?
OR: Temporary Tofurky Tats and becoming our boy/girl/whatever friend.
HG: And finally, what’s next?
OR: What’s next? WHAT’S NEXT? Well, Chicago tonight if we can make it through this rain.
(continued) but in terms of the future… get back to Oly, play a sweet show with all our friends. Probably record a full album and most definitely write new songs, as well as start new and exciting projects within the Olympia community. Avoid separation anxiety from one another by writing and playing together, forever. We are a relatively young band, and have only been playing as a four-piece since April, but we are like family and friends and everything good and important. It’s crazy to think that in only four months we have released an EP, two singles, a music video, and toured across the country and back, not to mention those of us who have dipped our hands in musical projects of others right up until we left. It’s powerful. I think “what’s next” is really exciting for us because we don’t know! But it’s going to be good, because we are capable of anything. and we are STOKED!
Olivia closed by saying: “We are together, us forever. We are apart, us at heart.”
For more Oh, Rose CLICK HERE: ohrose.bandcamp.com