Interview with Roses In December

Photo Credit: Michael Robert Williams

Packed with an ardent rock sound, “The Day That He Saw Red” is a captivating track. Themes of frustration and toxic male masculinity are conveyed, with lines like “it’s your fault you made me do this,” echoing as such. How did this track’s thematic aim come about? 

The track started with the guitar riff you can hear at the start of the song, and even before we started adding parts and putting a structure together, the beefiness and pace of the riff screamed aggression. We quite often write lyrics that highlight just how damaging toxic masculinity is, as I think it’s something that massively affected us growing up, and in our opinions is a big contributor to high levels of male suicide in the UK. 

Our bassist, Hallam, straight away knew he wanted the song to be about toxic masculinity at its very worst, when the bottled up aggression is taken out on another person, and he used a very specific case in the North East to demonstrate this. We already had a melody for the vocals, so Hallam just made sure the lyrics he wrote fit the syllables for this, though within the first practice we’d coined the chorus line, ‘Well, well, well, there’s something the matter with you,’ and this line almost acted as a cornerstone for the rest of the lyrics to be based around. 

What was it like working with Sam Grant from Pigs x7? How did his involvement influence the final sound of the track? 

We’ve worked with Sam twice now, and it’s such a privilege. We recorded four tracks with him in October 2022, the first three were our last singles released as Crux. And even though we still think these were strong tracks, I think we were trying to sound like someone else. I think Sam really helped us find our sound, our identity, in ‘The

Day That He Saw Red’. With his experience as Pigs x7 guitarist and producer, I think you can really hear that footprint on the song, as we made the most of the custom made Orange amps Sam kindly let us use at Blank Studios. 

There were also a few finer details, where Sam’s incredible knowledge and experience helped bring the song together. For instance, we recorded the cymbals and the shell of the drum kit separately to make sure the cymbals didn’t bleed into the bass drum/snare parts, that helped the drum mix sound more explosive than any drum part we’ve done before. 

We really think this is our strongest song we’ve recorded, and I don’t think it would’ve been the same without Sam, so we can’t praise him enough. 

What message do you hope listeners take away from your music, particularly when it comes to dealing with the darker aspects of modern life? 

A lot of the music I listen to helps me release my frustrations with the world, whether I’m wanting to release some anger by listening to Rage Against The Machine or IDLES, or find some form of catharsis by listening to Radiohead. I hope that our music helps listeners in a similar way and inspires people to let out their rage in a creative way, via listening to the song, inspiring listeners to become creative themselves, or even inspiring positive change. It doesn’t have to be as grand as that though, even if you want to go to the gym and take your frustration out on a dumbbell, this will be a good song to help you during the last reps.

Humans aren’t biologically made for the modern world we’re currently living in, so I think everyone needs a way of releasing their frustrations. And it’s very easy to fall into a rabbit hole of releasing frustrations on the wrong things, or getting angry at minority groups. We’re here to remind listeners not to get angry at the little person. 

What’s your favorite venue to perform at? 

We’d definitely all agree that our favourite venue was Bobiks in our hometown, Newcastle. Bobiks, unfortunately like so many other small independent venues, closed down in March due to a change of ownership. Though, some of our best gigs were there, particularly our headline gig there last June. It was such a quirky venue with random bits of Soviet Union memorabilia, there was a projector behind the stage, you had to get up a windy set of stairs to get to the main room, and the main room itself looked like something from The Haunted Mansion. We will very much miss playing there, and the scene of local music in Newcastle hasn’t been the same since. 

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music? 

The majority of our songs start either with a guitar riff, or a couple of chords. This usually stems from noodling on the guitar. We’ll then see how much we expand on this, and that will determine whether it’s strong enough to record. Sometimes, it can be really easy, like ‘The

Day That He Saw Red’ where the majority of the song’s structure and melodic parts came to fruition within one practice. Or sometimes it will take longer to piece together, for instance one of our older songs, ‘Agent Orange +erased’ was slowly put together on GarageBand during lockdown. 

Randomly, I find I’m most creative in the shower or just before I go to sleep, apparently your brain can be most active in this semi-conscious state. I’ll think of a lot of melodies or lyrics during these times and find them recorded on my phone or on my notes. It’s mostly crap, but sometimes there’s some hidden gems. 

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment? 

I’m loving the new music from Soft Play, particularly ‘Act Violently’ and ‘Mirror Muscles’. I think the lyrics in these songs are some of the best Isaac Holman’s written so far, and I’m loving that they’ve added some metal elements to they’re visceral punk sound. I also really like English Teacher’s debut album ‘This Could Be Texas’, that’s been heavily on repeat at the moment, specifically ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’, ‘Broken Biscuits’, and ‘You Blister My Paint’. 

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be? 

I think we’d have to say Muse/Matt Bellamy. We all grew up being absolute fanboy’s of Muse, and the band was pretty much founded on a mutual love of Muse, you can definitely hear that in our sound, and given that it would be rude to pick any other artist/band. Sadly

enough, as I’m writing this I’m even wearing a Muse t-shirt. I’m not that obsessed I swear

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry? 

Where do I startI could write essays on this, but I think the biggest challenge is it’s not really financially viable anymore to be an independent artist. There’s so many expenses and such a limited scope for any revenue. The only routes an independent band can make any money are via ticket sales at a gig, or selling merch, there’s pretty much no money to be made from song/album sales any more due to streaming services. And it’s becoming increasingly harder for independent bands/artists to sell tickets for a gig with increasing ticket prices due to inflation/cost of living crisis. So merch is the only source of income. 

We all have to work full time jobs, and pump a lot of the money we make from these into the band, as the income we get from the band only covers a minimal amount of the expenses. We don’t create music and play gigs for the financial gain though, we do it because we absolutely love it and we’re very fortunate that we’re in a a position, financially, where we can keep doing this. 

There is hope there could be more support for musicians in the near future with the general election coming up, but I won’t hold onto that hope too much. 

What’s next for the band?

We recorded an EP with Sam Grant at Blank Studios in May and we’re just finalising the mixes for these. We’re really happy with how the songs are sounding and they’ll be a continuation of our new found sound. The songs from the EP will be released later in the year and we’ll definitely arrange a celebratory gig once the EP is fully released. We’re also playing at 499 Festival in Durham on 12th July and we’re playing a headline gig at Little Buildings on 14th July.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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