Milwaukee’s Rose of the West are an amalgam of pretty much all of our favorite sounds: post-punk, ethereal wave, dream pop, ‘90s alt rock… basically everything that beautifully soundtracked the lives of the most whimsically angsty and morose teens of the mid-80’s to the mid 90’s… The band is the project of Gina Barrington and has been in the works for about half a decade now, but whose present state was more or less solidified earlier this year with their current lineup and the release of their self-titled debut LP, which dropped courtesy of Communicating Vessel. The band just kicked off a US tour last night in Chicago and will be headlining Boot & Saddle next Tuesday, September 17th. A few weeks ago I got a chance to chat with Gina Barrington about fashion, cinema, and some of the band’s other favorite things.
Izzy Cihak: So, I know that Rose of the West has been a band for a little while now, but you just released your debut LP earlier this year. Have you had any favorite reactions to it, whether from fans, audiences, critics, or just friends?
Gina Barrington: There have been many cool responses, and it’s amazing to hear from all kinds of people, whether we know them or not… but my favorite reaction labeled us “the best desert goth trip,” and hearing the lovely Emily Kokal of Warpaint singing “See it to believe eh eh eh eht” after hearing “Love Lies Bleeding” was pretty high up there on the cool charts.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences?
Gina: I am reluctant to give a list of influences, though I know being a lover of late 80’s, and 90’s must float to the top on this record quite a bit… So, I’ll do it anyway. Musically speaking, we live in a world where Portishead, Siouxsie Sioux, The Cure, Joy Division, Fleetwood Mac, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Cocteau Twins, Bowie, and things of this nature are playing constantly. The list could go on and get pretty deep… but we can leave it there just scratching the surface. We do have a growing playlist on our Spotify page that we all contribute to, and I think that gives fans an idea of the many places we all come from musically.
Izzy: I especially love “Eye to Eye,” which reminds me a lot of the first Garbage record and that point in the 90’s where bands were merging synth-pop with alt-rock, so I’m curious how that particular track came about.
Gina: “Eye to Eye” was a demo I had for a long time, but it wasn’t quite in this state… Thomas really liked it and decided to see if he could write another part that fit… That part became the existing chorus, and the old chorus was moved into the bridge – it took the song to a whole new place.
Izzy: Is there anything you’d like fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording music, or just your aim as an artist?
Gina: The process is important, but is also ever-changing. The aim is only to be a place of solace and refuge for the listener. It’s beautiful to get to put things into the world to be shared with those who find meaning in them, we stumble upon the best parts of life that way.
Izzy: I also really like your music videos and your latest press release specifically describes your sound as resembling a “Technicolor Lynchian dreamscape,” so I’m assuming you’re at least moderate fans of cinema. That being said, are there any film makers of whose work you would dream of being on the soundtrack? Or, if we’re being hypothetical, are there any existing cinematic works whose soundtrack you wish you could have been a part of?
Gina: This band is so rich with talented friends who help bring our sounds and visions to life. On the same note, we share a love of common film, art, and music, which helps. It often feels like a relationship where we finish each other’s thoughts. I think those partnerships helped form that dream description of us. And it feels like home.
Maya Deren, David Lynch (of course), Guillermo del Toro, Wong Kar-wai, Stanley Kubrick are just a few film makers we like and or wouldn’t say no to…
Izzy: And you’re about to head out on a tour. What can be expected of the live experience when you’re here at Boot & Saddle? (It’s like the city’s coolest venue. It’s an old honky-tonk, converted into a punk rock bar and club.)
Gina: We would love to take you deep into our magical moody seance………if you will all let us…
Izzy: Also, you all have really great style. Is there any particular style of dress in which you’d like fans to show up to the gig? I’ll be coming almost straight from my university job, but I should have enough time to stop home and at least change my top and jacket and fix my hair.
Gina: Thank you for praising our efforts, we try to keep it cool… TRY- being the operative word there… We wear what makes us move.
We would love people to show up looking the way they feel the best… fashion, art, music all share connecting fibers of expression and feeling. If neon green hair and matching shoes does your heart in, then we support it!!! We are honored you’d consider fixing your hair for us! And we can’t wait to meet you!
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you? Anything you’re particularly excited about for the last part of 2019 and the first part of 2020?
Gina: We are really looking forward to this tour, and whatever it brings along the way. November we have Moonstone Festival In Birmingham, AL, which will be an amazing way to close out the year. The following months after that will be focused on writing/recording our next release… …Hopefully spring will bring some more tour travel for us!