“3,000 times a day these commercials are basically calling you ugly. They have everyone feeling bad about themselves and I don’t think that’s fair… I want people to be able to love themselves,” says Rosie Rebel, frontwoman of Brooklyn punk rockers Typhoid Rosie. She’s discussing the band’s latest single, “Defend Your Temple,” a rallying cry and cautionary tale for fledgling feminists, warning against the dangers of trusting the media we’re fed throughout our formative years… even that which is animated and parent-approved… “She don’t need no prince, she don’t need no mice, she’ll make it on her own just fine!” she spits in the song, which easily could’ve come from a band who toured with The Donnas during the heyday of Lookout! Records. “Defend Your Temple” is the second single off of Queen of Swords, the band’s fourth album, which drops August 13th.
Typhoid Rosie has been putting out music since their 2013 debut, The Music Album, and gotten great write-ups from the likes of PopMatters and New Noise Magazine, but when they started, Rosie wasn’t even trying to do music: “For my first album, I didn’t even know I was a musician. I was a comedian, and I did a joke song that just turned into a whole album.” However, both her drive as a bandleader and the content of her music quickly became serious: “For my second album, I had just lost my mom and my grandma in the same weekend, which was rough. And with my third and fourth albums, it was just like, ‘Life is hard, life is tragic, but get up!’”
“Our favorite kind of music, probably, comes from another person’s pain. I mean that’s how you make a diamond. I’ve had that pain, I’ve had so much tragedy in my life,” says Rosie, who references the band’s love of a variety of musical styles and her particular taste for soul: “Soul is probably my favorite kind of music, that’s where my heart is.” However, the sounds of Typhoid Rosie are far from downtrodden or moody, but more along the lines of the kinds of things you would’ve skated or moshed to in the mid-late ‘90s and, as an adult, work out to: “Music is like energy. You could easily put the new album on your running playlist.” Not surprisingly, their Spotify playlist of influences includes numbers by the likes of Rancid, Black Flag, and Stiff Little Fingers.
Although Typhoid Rosie are far from the legendary status of those acts at this point, Rosie tells me that just being able to make music like this, with people who love it and have people who listen to it, feels like a huge accomplishment: “This lineup of my band, playing with this version of my gang, is a huge highlight. We all sing the gang vocals and we’re all so excited to be there. We’re not doing it for the 1/300th of a cent on Spotify, we’re doing it for the love of it!” She even admits that the band’s current status can be a lot more satisfying and enjoyable than if they had to exist on the level of a mega-star.
“I’m really enjoying it because, as a comedian, I’ve gotten to perform in front of thousands of people, like at the Hammerstein Ballroom with like 2,000 people, but everyone’s like ants in a place like that. But now we’re at a nice level. I really love performing. We’re having amazing shows and we’re getting the crowd to sing along. It really is those interactions that I love. I mean, I just sent a T-shirt to a girl, Courtney, in Wilkes-Barre and she’s probably listened to more Typhoid Rosie than anyone, and you don’t get that on the bigger level.”