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Interview: Las Rosas

Live photos by Devon Bristol Shaw.

Standing in the crowd watching Las Rosas rock the stage with their disco lights and party vibes, someone leans over to me and says, “Las Rosas are the most underrated band in New York City.”

Comprised of Jose Boyer (guitar/vocals), Jose Aybar (bass), and Christopher Lauderdale (drums), these guys are the epitome of carefree, good-feeling musicians who probably don’t even comprehend how talented they actually are.

Las Rosas were one of the first bands I met when I moved to NYC. The guys are all good friends with family friends of mine who helped me get on my feet by giving me a job at their thrift store. After my shift I’d go hang out with them and their friends, and that’s when I met Las Rosas. It was crazy how immediately friendly and welcoming these guys were to me. When I finally saw them live, perhaps I was bias due to the blinding kindness they showed me, but they blew me away!

It was at Market Hotel back when the band had Glenn Van Dyke, of BOYTOY, playing with them. They’re live presence is like no other—I’m pretty sure the concept of stage fright isn’t even fathomable to them. It’s like electricity is being passed between them and shot out at the audience to create a thrill of ecstasy and giddiness.

Their current sound is gritty, home-recorded garage rock with a hint of surf rock that’s upbeat and melodic. Though the lyrics can be dark at times, the tunes magically lift you up out of any bad spirits.

I chatted with them while they were in their practice space filled with tie-dyed tapestries, a string of chili pepper lights, a poster of a stoner babe, and Iggy Pop’s dick plastered on the wall. The air was easy-going and casual. We had some laughs, talked about their history, the band’s dark side, their upcoming tour, and debut full-length album Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want came out March 10th on Ernest Jennings and Burger Records.

Check out what this freaky, seltzer, and fun band is all about!  

How long have you guys been playing as Las Rosas?

JA:  It’s like 3 ½ years not I think, about that.

JB: It’s a toddler walking around now. We’re looking into pre-K.

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Cute! How did you guys all meet and decide to form Las Rosas?

JB: Well, me and Christopher have known each other for a really long time, we used to play music together in North Carolina. Then we parted ways and lived in different places, and then we both moved to New York around the same time. We had a different band before.

Ooh la la! What was the different band?

JB: It was called Daytona and we would play different stuff together after our rehearsals and that’s where Las Rosas came from.

CL: That’s how I met Jose A!

JA: I was the first bass player in the Daytona before Jose B became the actual bass player in the band.

JB: After we all met we were just like, “let’s do this other thing!”

Cool! You were all destined for each other.Tell me about Everyone Gets Exactly What They Want

JB: Well, everyone basically got exactly what they wanted…

That’s good, is that why you guys decided to call it that?

JB: It was kind of this little joke that we kept saying in the van on a tour. For me, it kept sticking in my head as an album title because the vibe of the album’s subject matter has to be a little fun, but pretty cynical and a little bit pessimist. When you say something like, “everyone gets exactly what they want” it’s basically an impossible situation. It basically means if you’re saying it you’re probably bullshitting. Not everyone is always going to have exactly what they want…

JA: And that’s fine!

Very true. So, what do you want your listeners to get out of this new album?

JA: … Exactly what they want!

[All laugh]

JB: I don’t know… I mean, when I listen to music I don’t listen to the lyrics until I’m really into the album musically and then I can start absorbing lyrics. So it’s hard for me to imagine what other people do, because I know for a lot of people it’s [the lyrics] the first or the only thing they’re paying attention to. The music maybe keeps their attention, but it’s the subject matter… So I think if you really listen to it, it’s kind of a bummer record, but if you’re just jamming along, it’s pretty fun! It’s really going to depend on the individual.

JA:  But the songs itself, they’re not bummers—there’s some sunlight in there too.

Yeah, for sure. I can’t imagine you guys sounding like total bummers!

JA: I think that I can go pretty dark [with the lyrics], because our general vibe as people is really fun and our shows tend to not be dark at all.

How would you compare this new album to the stuff you’ve already released, like the Flowers In The Sun EP and the Ms. America/Sensitive Flowers 7’’?

JA: Well, some of the tracks are along the same lines.

JB: Some of them are revisited.

JA: Yeah, there’s a couple that we re-recorded with our more mature sensibilities. Then there’s a bunch of others that I think move away from typical garage stuff—they’re maybe a little longer or have more of a classic rock feel.

Is there anything new that you guys are trying out with this album?

JB: There’s a lot more psychedelic stuff and a bit more jammier—and the recording process was completely different from any of the other recordings we’ve ever done. We actually went to a studio this time, before we would record everything in this room or in something similar.

JA: Yeah, and this was not only going into a studio—we got really lucky with this producer, Missy. I’ve known her forever, but she hadn’t really produced stuff and then after I kind of lost touch with her. So it was cool to get to know her in that capacity and she made a lot of cool choices on it and she was really eager to try stuff—like if we wanted to try weird percussion stuff or studio tricks during mixing to make it sound interesting. So, it’s definitely much more produced.

JB: Yeah! It was just a lot of little studio things that there was no way I could’ve done the way I was recording our original stuff. It was really important for me to move away from the self-recorded thing, because I wasn’t trying to make it sound straight-forward and lo-fi, it’s just that, that was my limitation. So it’s not like we were, “oh, well we’re in a lo-fi scene to let’s do it that way,” in fact it was the opposite, I couldn’t wait to get out of that recording set-up.

Is this the way you guys are going to go from now on when recording?

JB: I think so. We’ve already done some other recordings more recently that are also going into the studio hoping to get as much out of it as we can.

How long did the writing process for this album take?

JB: Some of the stuff had been rolling around from the very first few songs that we’ve written that we wanted to re-record in a studio. I was thinking about the album right before we went to record and I realized we didn’t really have a good song that I could think of as the first opening song on the record or the last song. So specifically those two tracks I set out—I sat down and was like, “I’m going to write something that sounds like an opening song… and I’m going to write something that sounds like the end.” And that was cool, because I never write like that purposely. Those were written kind of last minute to make it feel more like a record, but they were all written over a long period of time. We don’t usually sit down like, “alright, we’re going to write 12 songs in 3-weeks!” or anything like that, which I bet people do and I bet it’s fun…

JA: Yeah, but it’s 13 songs and all our other records, the most they ever have had, has been like 5 or 6 songs.

Is there a common theme or singular inspiration that goes throughout the album?

JB: There’s a few. There’s this sort of fictional narrative of being left by your girlfriend for a woman, but then it kind of turned semi-autobiographical… So there’s references back and forth—for instance, I mention a song in a different song. Then there’s the darker, “what are we all doing having fun when the earth is about to fall over the brink into ecological collapse??”—there’s that. Then there’s just like fun party songs too! You gotta balance it out.

What about the album artwork for this?

JA: This time we actually took an old photograph and then brought it to our friend Ian—he used to be in that band Titus Andronicus, and he does a lot of graphic design stuff. He just kind of whipped it out for us. We had a couple of inspirations in mind from other records too.

JB: I mean… I’ve gotta say, Ian has helped us a lot and he’s really quick with graphic stuff because that’s what he does professionally. But, I feel like the “artwork” credit… goes to us. Because he was giving us some stuff that we were like, “eh, that’s not really our direction.” So we just went over there one day and we were like, “okay, I’m just going to literally tell you to drag this here, drag that there, change that color…”

Awesome! So what’s in store for the future of Las Rosas?

JB: Well, we recorded some songs in December in Nashville that we’re hoping to put out right on the heels of this [album]. I think those take us even further in that direction of like, “later garage! I’m parking my car on the street now…” [laughs] And I’m really excited! It feels much more like classic rock, but in a way that’s not derivative, I just knew people would ask me what I thought it would sound like and I thought that was the best description.

Las Rosas are playing with Max Pain and The Groovies at Alphaville on November 4th, tickets and details here.


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