Exposure: De Rosa
De Rosa - Nocturne for an Absentee
De Rosa are a band whose name has resonated strongly throughout the Glasgow musical landscape despite having only released one album, Mend, three years ago - albeit to heavy acclaim from musicians, listeners and critics alike. Now on their second and enjoying a considerably more robust line-up, and subsequently a more inventive and experimental folk-infused sound, it seems that now, their collective foot is not so much 'in the door' as it is booting the shit out of it. This new line-up has seen the return of original guitarist Chris Connick after spending the last couple of years overseas, but as he joins a band now in full swing. Rejuvenated himself, here's the man himself with some words on the matter.
You’re now on your second album, but for those still somewhat in the dark, can you tell us how De Rosa came into existence?
Myself and Martin met at primary school and then played guitar together in wee bands for years, meeting the brothers Neil and James at high school in Bellshill. Mr De Rosa was our physics teacher and is still the coolest guy I have ever met, hence the name. I left the band for a few years due to a bit of a freak out and went to America to become a carpet fitter, just before the debut album Mend came out, which was mainly the work of Martin and Neil, although I played on some of the early recording sessions for it and James the latter. When I moved back to Scotland, brain re-wired and sick of the sight of laminate flooring, I rejoined De Rosa, and we then asked our sound engineer at the time, Andy, to play with us also, increasing the attractiveness and height of the band exponentially in the process, as we’re all short arses.
Do you feel the somewhat expanded line-up has helped to broaden the sound of the band?
Definitely. We all have pretty varied individual musical tastes and influences. I love Tom Waits for example and James loves Funkadelic, and with the five of us all having input into the songwriting, it has really helped broaden the scope and content of the songs. We can also translate to a live situation a lot more readily now with the added personnel, which is something I’m really happy with as it used to frustrate me having to tear apart songs in an attempt to recreate them live. To be honest we’re a totally different live band now and we were probably quite shit in the past. But you could argue that now we’re just shit with more instruments.
If pushed how would you describe your music?
I’m never very good at answering this question, but for me the best way to describe the music on Prevention, or rather how it was formed, is that Martin has essentially written some folk songs on an acoustic guitar, and then brought these core ideas to a bunch of guys who own electronic instruments and electric guitars to mess around with. There wasn’t any specific concept developed for the album, but seemed to be the natural way for us to write productively together. It’s turned out to be quite a layered sound on the record, and it's more developed structurally than the songs on Mend. Lyrically, there’s a lot of emphasis on place, and it’s more mature than before. If I was forced to sound-bite our music I’d go for 'psycho-geography future folk'. Or some nonsense like that.
How would you rate the current state of music in Glasgow?
I think that the Glasgow music scene has always been good, at least it has been since I was old enough to go to gigs, and there’s a lot of choice right now across the board in terms of what music you like to hear live, with loads of wee genre pockets going on all over town. For newer bands there’s some great opportunities to play these days and not get shafted by a Camel skin jacket wearing dodgy promoter, such as the nights at Bar Bloc, and The Concrete Campfire gigs in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. I do have a genuine non-sycophantic love of new Scottish music so regularly check websites like Jockrock and the free music papers to scour for good local three band bill gigs to attend. My two favourite live acts in Glasgow at the moment are Mitchell Museum and My Cousin I Bid You Farewell who are both awesome. The new State Broadcasters album is beautiful and I’d love to see them do well.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Just hitting the road?
We’ve been asked by Doves to support them on a few dates of their UK tour next week. We’re also doing the Hinterland festival and Plaff festival in Spain the Day after, which means I’ll be heavy seshed up on the Estrella all weekend. We’re hoping to do some more touring/festivals over the summer in both the UK and Europe. Release-wise, we’ll have two singles out from Prevention, the first being 'Nocturne for an Absentee' out 27th April. There’s also talk of a mini EP release in the winter, and we’ll start work on recording album three come the new year.
Have there been any particularly enjoyable or hilarious moments had by the band in your time together? Any memorable tour experiences?
We’re on tour just now which I can assure you is a non-stop laugh-a-minute De Rosa rockathon. Coke, dead hookers, the lot. To compensate for this debauchery we all jump into a big bed together at night and read Proust until we fall asleep in the foetal position. In actuality, the last three weeks tour highlights have included Andy crashing the van in Amsterdam and the subsequent chipper Dutch police banter; Playing to two sheep and a dug in Portree (who seemed totally into the music to be fair); falling on stage at the Luminaire, London after 14 pints and seeing several hundred people laugh at me; Kim Wilde asking us how to say cheers in Dutch, and getting caught out telling the same crap joke two nights in a row by an audience member.