Monday 15 February 2021

Rosellas - Interview

Rosellas recently released their new single Damaged and played the Music Feeds festival alongside the likes of Liam Gallagher and Blossoms, winning over a whole set of new fans in the process. We caught up with Drew and Euan to chat about their prolific songwriting, remaining true to themselves and standing out from the crowd and their plans for the rest of 2021.

Could you introduce the band – who you are, where you’re from and how you got together?

Euan – “There’s me, I play guitar, Drew plays guitar and sings, Luis is the keyboard player, Mark is the drummer and Ollie plays bass. I met Drew on a train coming back from a Blossoms gig. We got chatting and we carried on into the night, we went to a pub and we had a conversation. And I didn’t remember it and I had a text from an unknown number saying ‘Hi mate, are you still up for what we talked about?’ Then I remembered.”

“Drew had been playing gigs as Drew Selby and he needed a backing band. He asked if I wanted to do it, and when I said yes, he said we’d got a gig at the Night And Day next week”

Were you playing as Rosellas then?

Euan – “No we were playing as Drew Selby. That was in August 2018 and we were doing it until the January and then we sacked it off. It was good, but we were playing the same five tunes every time”

Drew – “I only had five songs”

Euan – “Well four and a cover. At a push.”

Drew – “We took a few months off. For the whole of that summer me and you wrote a load of tunes and came out into the world in July and put the first EP out in September of that year.”

Euan – “I was on holiday when it came out. So I didn’t get the backlash in the UK”

It was interesting that your first release was an EP and looking at what you’ve done since, it’s been EPs or three track singles. Most bands just put out singles for that first eighteen months or so which is how long it’s been since your first release. You’ve done twenty or so songs in that time.

Euan – “That’s why we did it. The reason was purely that we had so many songs and rather than hold on to them we just thought we’d put them out. I think it’s worked quite well. If we’d sat on them then none of them would probably be out because we’ve written better tunes since and it would have been a waste. When I see bands that do that, just releasing singles, I think either they can’t be arsed, too lazy, or they’re really thinking about every release, planning every song, and if that one song comes out and people don’t like it, then they’re fucked”

You mention you’d met after a Blossoms gig and they did that early on, releasing EPs and the likes of Oasis and The Smiths used to do it, people’s favourites weren’t the singles. Did they play a part in it?

Euan – “We hadn’t thought about it that much. It wasn’t that we’d seen other bands do it and thought we should. It was more we’ve got five songs, let’s put them all out. It was the idea of putting them out in bulk – if there’s five songs on there, then there’s more chance people will like one of them. They’re all a bit different so there’s a variation.”

It must also help at gigs too. People will know the songs. If you’ve only got one out, then they’re either waiting for it at the end or it’s played early and people lose interest.

Drew – “I do remember on the night we met, I’d been a solo artist but I really wanted to be in a band. I remember saying to you that they (Blossoms) were doing it and making it look easy and I remember you saying if Tom could do it, why couldn’t you do it? It was like a kick up the arse for you (Euan).

One of the other things that I’ve noticed is the lead tracks off the singles and EPs, they’re all at least four minutes long. It goes against the grain; bands with people sitting there advising them will get told that’s too long for a single.

Euan – “This is the thing – it’s only been brought to our attention in the last month. I’d never thought about it before – that you need a two and a half minute / three minute song – it had never crossed my mind until Oliver, our producer, said to us that we need shorter songs. That was a month ago – the fact you’ve said it says other people have noticed it as well”

I’m not sure I agree with it though. As someone who loves music, a song should feel natural and not feel like it’s been compromised to fit into a certain length.

Drew – “We’ve never sat down and thought ‘this is a great song, but it’s five and a half minutes long what can we take out of it?’ We never sit there and think ‘how can we make this more accessible or radio-friendly?’ We’re creators, we make our art and leave it as is. Certain people might tell us that a song won’t get played on radio because it’s too long. We want to be able to mix it up – maybe a three and a half minute song that would get played and then a track like The Edge off our new single that’s longer. It’s never going to get on the radio because it’s over six minutes long.”

There are people who listen to radio though who want a proper song.

Euan – “Rather than be told that we’ve got to write a song that fits on the radio, we’d say ‘you fucking write it then….”

I guess no one told Queen that Bohemian Rhapsody was too long or Radiohead that Paranoid Android was….

Drew – “I bet at the time people said they were. Nowadays it wouldn’t be seen as marketable. But what establishes them as being different from every other artist is that they went with their gut and stuck by what they believed in and now everyone can turn round and say, with hindsight, that it was a great decision. I think some of our songs are in the same position. I think you have to find a balance between what you want to write, everything that’s comes out genuinely rather than feeling like you’re writing to order which we’re massively against. It stifles creativity”

Euan – “We’re talking the difference here of a minute, they’re not ten minute long songs. If they were, we’d probably agree they should be shorter, but a minute. People who want to listen to it aren’t going to be arsed about a minute. People who listen to everything we put out aren’t going to be put off by that.”

The fact that it stands out says something…

Euan – “Do you think it does? I’ve not really noticed it before”

Yeah definitely. You can listen to some songs that are two and a half minutes long and you know it’s come from something that was much longer and sometimes you can even work out where it’s been cut down.

Drew – “The bands we grew up listening to. Euan loves The Smiths and I The Stone Roses and we have common ground on bands like Oasis and The Verve. I can’t imagine Richard Ashcroft sitting there and writing and thinking ‘oh I need to take out that chorus because it’s too long.’ He made what he wanted to make and I think that’s why people latch onto them.

Someone can do a radio edit if they choose of course

Drew – “Yeah of course, but if you’re editing yourself and taking it out during the creation, we’ve always been firm believers that completely isn’t the way to go”

Euan – “Otherwise it takes the personal element out of it. We want to make music that comes out as it is – or we’d be cheating ourselves, cutting out bits that didn’t need to be cut out for the sake of pleasing other people.”

It was also something we recall from seeing you way back last year when we saw you play live supporting The Clockworks. A lot of bands look the same, trying to be someone else, one of the Liams, and have a particular sound, and you stood out as sounding different.

Drew : “I think you can see which bands are trying to be themselves and writing things that they want to write and play how they want to play and those that are trying to follow someone a bit too closely. I think they’re not going to get anywhere because it’s already been done. You can’t spend your life as a creative artist adhering to a set of rules. It’s a bad idea.”

Noone is going to be as good as being Liam Gallagher as Liam Gallagher are they?

Euan – “I see bands like that and I think ‘you’ve listened to Oasis and Arctic Monkeys and that’s that.’ You can tell they’re desperate to sound like whoever it is they’ve listened to. We listen to quite a lot of different music. What I listen to is different to Drew and it comes out in the music”

That came across when I was working on the Music Feeds festival and I was talking to Saul from James and he was like ‘listen to this drum intro’

Drew – “That’s good isn’t it? Saul said that to us too. It’s on a track called Common Ground which we’re getting into the studio to record when we can to bring out in summer time. That song and the one we played on the second night, Damaged, when we play them live there’s no massive intro to the studio version, but when we play it at gigs, we always join the songs together with intros and make it into more of a show. That, for me, comes from the fact I’ve listened to Pink Floyd from the age of about four because my Mum's cool”

Euan – “No one does that. Especially at our level. It’s nice when we play a gig with bands who are doing two minute songs, one after the other, bang bang bang and we come on and play a two-minute intro and people are asking ‘is this it? Have they started yet?’ ”

He was definitely impressed, he wouldn’t shut up about the drum intro….

Drew – “He’s backed us big time. I’ve been on a call with him a few times since that gig. He’s a man who’s true to his word and James have always been ones to bring up acts through their support slots – Happy Mondays, they had Coldplay, The Slow Readers Club, Blossoms. That Music Feeds gig, we were in a very big pond with some very big fish – the likes of Liam Gallagher, Sam Smith, Blossoms – and Saul was kind enough and trusting enough in us to give us a very good slot on the first day between headliners. The monthly listeners and all that stuff has gone through the roof since. Saul said to me on the phone he thinks Common Ground is an absolute tune.”

“The one album we had on in the car all the time when I was a kid was the Seven album. Born Of Frustration is one of my favourites from back in the day. When Saul walked in when we were recording that set at The Met and I met him in person, I was a little bit starstruck and trying to play it cool at the same time. He came on stage with us and started playing violin on one of our tunes and it was like ‘what the fuck?’”

You’ve had some really good feedback from doing that show from people who would never have heard of you before, let alone listened to you. Has that given you the confidence to kick on now?

Euan – “We always have had, but we thought it would. We haven’t achieved anything yet. Things will happen eventually. It was good though because it got people who’d never heard us into us. Like Drew said, the Spotify and the Twitter went up. It was like random people commenting that they loved it. The only downside was that it wasn’t a proper gig.”

We’re a bit stuck on that front though, aren’t we?

Drew – “The whole internet gig thing is in its infancy right now. No one really knows what they’re doing. Even a boost of 300 followers is like gold dust at the moment. No one can gig right now, we can’t do anything else”

Have you been writing more?

Euan – “Like no tomorrow. The first lockdown I wrote loads of tunes, like one every day, sending them to Drew saying ‘listen to this, listen to this’”

Does one of you come up with all the songs, or an idea or do you write together?

Euan – “Normally we’d do it together, but we obviously can’t. So now we’ll do what we can on our own, then I’ll send it to Drew and the other way round and we’ll work on it. We’re not the type to get on Zoom with our guitars and try to write. Before that we did do it together, I’d go round to his with a chord change and we’d work on it and do it that way. Circumstances mean we haven’t been able to do it.”

Drew – “Apart from the songs that are on Spotify, we’ve got ten songs that out on Soundcloud which are older demos. I think Damaged and Common Ground are on there. That’s from our debut EP time. There’s another ten track album called Demos 2. We’re going to give them away at gigs and free with t-shirts and all that. People want to hear the songs, we get money from the t-shirts. If we can give a few away at a gig, say fifteen, we know ten of those people are going to go home and whack it on. Then they’ll tell their mates.”

“I think it’s important to do that so people know the tunes when they come to our gigs as it creates an atmosphere and people will be having it. I think that’s more important than the money. A big influence on that was reading about Arctic Monkeys in their early days, they used to give out a plethora of free cds and share them on MySpace and that doesn’t seem to happen any more. No one can turn down a free album and you’ve got a chance to reach so many new people.”

Euan – “It goes back to what we were saying earlier. We’ve written and put out so many tunes. The Demos 1, eight of them will never go out again, but for us it’s bookmarking them. We can get the reaction and pick out the best ones and they’ll be singles. We’ll probably do a similar thing with this one.”

Drew – “There’s a certain magic about finding a band and you discover a whole other world behind it. You’d get into Oasis by listening to Definitely Maybe or Morning Glory and then you’d find The Masterplan which is a whole other world. Beyond that you can find rips of early demos on YouTube and there’s something magical about that. You were saying before about bands putting out three singles in a year and nothing else and it’s very clean cut, it’s just there, it’s 1 dimensional, it’s boring. I want people to discover us and say ‘they’ve got that on Spotify, but what else can I discover?’ It’s all about people buying into you, seeing beyond the surface and into the creativity.”

What plans have you got for the rest of the year, assuming things can happen?

Drew : “We’ve got a gig at Gullivers on July 10th for which there are tickets still available, we’re in talks to get a few more but it’s obviously up in the air at the moment so that’s the only one that’s in the diary. We’re getting into the studio in the next few weeks, if the lockdown gets lifted hopefully, to record Common Ground and that’s hopefully coming out around the time of the gig. Between now and then we’ve got a few acoustic versions of tunes we’re going to put out, a couple of remixes, to keep things ticking over. We’re setting up a website too, there’ll be t-shirts and like I said, you’ll get a cd with the t-shirts. We’re trying our best to keep things ticking over, but obviously it’s difficult to set things in stone.”

Rosellas are on Facebook and Twitter.


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1 comment:

  1. Outstanding band - second most streamed by me last year. Caught them as Drew Selby at West St Live a couple of years ago and then as Rosellas at The Washington about a year ago just before lockdown. Love Drew's voice and a top top band. A+++++