Caroline Rose: “If you wanna see the whole shebang, come to Union Transfer!” (4/11)

“Izzy, I’m so excited for the light show!” says indie pop singer/songwriter Caroline Rose, who embarks on their biggest headlining tour yet at the end of this month, which...

“Izzy, I’m so excited for the light show!” says indie pop singer/songwriter Caroline Rose, who embarks on their biggest headlining tour yet at the end of this month, which includes an April 11th stop at Union Transfer.  I first met Caroline Rose in January of 2014, when they had a date at Union Transfer opening for southern rock supergroup Hard Working Americans, and when they were making a very different kind of music (characterized as “gospel-meets-country-meet-blues-meets-alternative”).  Since then, Rose released one more Americana-tinged LP (2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid), before transitioning to and achieving indie stardom with a sound they once characterized for me as, “A blend of ‘70s punk and modern pop music… just as much influenced by Blondie and the B-52s as it is early Justin Timberlake,” that can be found on 2018’s Loner and 2020’s Superstar.  And, in that time, Caroline Rose has played packed headlining sets at Johnny Brenda’s, WXPN’s Free At Noon at World Café Live, and Underground Arts (more than once), in addition to a slot supporting Maggie Rogers at a sold-out Union Transfer in May of 2018.

This Friday, March 24th, Caroline Rose releases their fifth full-length (and third on New West Records), The Art of Forgetting.  To celebrate, they’ll be returning to World Café Live to play another WXPN Free At Noon (Register here.), although Rose tells me during our most recent phone chat that that show will be very stripped down, compared to the production of the show on their upcoming tour: “If you wanna see the whole shebang, come to Union Transfer!”  The album itself, Rose’s most confessional yet, came about after a string of existential traumas, but the musician approaches it with their signature morbid sense of humor, making for music that’s as charmingly quirky as it is introspectively poignant.

The early reviews for The Art of Forgetting are quite good.  American Songwriter calls the album, “a 14-track confession overflowing with intense, raw emotion and brutal honesty,” while Bandcamp says, “Caroline Rose returns with a brave document of turmoil and heartbreak full of sumptuous arrangements and powerful lyrics,” and Rose explains that this is a huge relief: “I always get really anxious before we put out a release, and this is an especially vulnerable release for me!  But the reactions have been great!  They’re really heartfelt!”  They do, however, admit that despite the vulnerability of the album’s content, the process behind making this record was certainly more comfortable than their previous LP: “I think I learn a lot each time.  Superstar is the first record I produced myself and I learned a lot about what not to do to maintain sanity [laughs].”

In addition to the full-length album, this Thursday, March 23rd, Caroline Rose will premiere The Art of Forgetting short film, a three-chapter movie including Rose’s recently released videos for album tracks “Miami” and “Tell Me What You Want.”  The film, loosely based on the very heartbreak that inspired LP, had Rose working with director Sam Bennett, a dear friend of the singer/songwriter: “He and I grew up together, so we’re really close.  It was really great to have this person I know really well help me make something so intimate.”  They also admit that this is an idea that’s been around for a while now: “I’ve always wanted to try to make a short film, because I’m really influenced by film; I always have been.  But in the past, I always had time and budget constraints, and we still have time and budget constraints, but I was really dedicated to it.”  The film will be available this Thursday on YouTube – along with a live Q&A with Rose – for anyone who pre-orders The Art of Forgetting before March 22nd.  In addition, Tower Records in Brooklyn will be hosting two free screenings of the film this Friday as a release day party (RSVP here.)

Caroline Rose prides themselves on being able to put on a good show regardless of the setting.  “I feel like the mark of a true professional is being able to put together a set for any room,” they tell me, but go on to admit that they’re incredibly excited about what they can do with the larger rooms and stages they’re playing on their upcoming tour.  “It’s going to be a lot more sonically enriching,” they say, before going on to discuss how things like lights and other elements can add to the overall performance.  Opening the shows will be Abbie Morin, AKA Hammydown, a close friend and collaborator of Rose: “We’ve been best friends for years!  Abbie was in my band!”  In fact, the two are currently working on a Hammydown record, which Rose is producing.  And while the music won’t be available prior to the shows, audiences will get to hear a good portion of the album each night.

To date, Caroline Rose has played The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection 11 times (I’m pretty sure…), but when I ask about their favorite memories of the city, they pause, before telling me, “The last time we were there, we got this really good Jamaican food… right by Underground Arts.  This is usually what I remember of cities [laughs].  We show up, it takes 100 hours to set up all of our gear, and then we get to eat a quick meal right before we go on.”  They also tell me that as they’ve gotten more successful, the more hectic the days on the road become: “It’s a lucky day if we have time to see stuff.  As things get bigger and there are more things to do, my days off get more and more precious to me.”

Despite feeling the stress of constantly having somewhere to be, something to play, or someone to talk to, coupled with having to rest their voice in order to be show-ready, Rose tells me that being on the road is actually their favorite part of their job: “I think traveling the world is the biggest highlight; it never gets old.  I get excited to travel anywhere.  I think I was really designed to be a road dog!”  “I mean, I still love to visit a Buc-ee’s!” they tell me, laughing.  Although Rose admits that they feel like they know this country inside and out (“I kind of feel like I’ve seen every nook and cranny of the US.”), they tell me they’re extra excited for some of the international dates they’ve got coming up in Europe, in addition to Corona Capital, which will be their first-time playing Mexico.  They also tell me that their life will be on the road for the foreseeable future: “We’re touring for pretty much a year straight and then I plan to take a very long break!”

*Get your tickets here.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.