Rosie Rebel of Typhoid Rosie Talks All Things Music (and Then Some)

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Typhoid Rosie is a Brooklyn-based Indie Pop/Rock band with a lot of guts. Their unique style and moving music, push them beyond the confines of the Pop genre into a league of their own. As an avid music listener and friend-defined human jukebox, I can honestly say that this band’s music doesn’t remind me of anyone…and I love that.

Comedienne turned singer-songwriter, Rosie and I talked via email about her transformation and the truth behind her diary-like songs that her fellow bandmates compliment with their intricate instrumentation.

“It all started on accident around a parody song to perform at live comedy shows,” Rosie explained when talking about the evolution of her band. “It kind of became something more than I even realized. Our band lineup has gone through growing pains; people have moved away, had babies, and gone on to do other things. I’m pretty happy with our current lineup, they’re stellar human beings. We have two guitar players, Matt Kursmark and Chris Potter. We have a lovely Southern Belle on keys named, Leah Farmer. We have a virtuoso bass player named, Steve Capecci. I guess me and Phil [Rosie’s Husband and the band’s drummer] are the only two originals. People keep writing to us, asking us when we’re coming to places like England, Nashville, Chicago, Sweden, France. Honestly, I can’t wait to go on tour with these guys, and to keep making such great music.” 

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From the moment you start speaking with Rosie, you get the impression that she’s comfortable in her own skin and quick on her feet; something I admire as a fellow female in the industry. There’s nothing more refreshing than speaking to an artist who knows who they are and is passionate about what they do. The interesting aspect about this talented spirit however, is how well she fits the role of a natural born singer. Everything about Rosie speaks ‘creative vocalist with an edge.’ It’s hard for me, now as a fan of her music, to ever think of her doing something other than it. But Rosie says it all “happened by accident.”

“As long as I can remember, I always loved music. But, I would say for the majority of my life, I never realized that I had any musical abilities whatsoever. I never knew I could sing. I’m not sure that other people around me knew it either, that’s why when they heard my first record, people were blown away.  I always gravitated towards music. 90% of the friends I made in life were either musicians, or were people who I shared musical interests with. So maybe deep down, it was always a part of me,” she stated.

“After I graduated high school, it was clear to me that all I wanted to do in life was make comedy. I did comedy for ten years, under the stage name, Rosie Rebel. I had some incredible highs and lows. Nothing broke me and built me more than having to get up each night and prove myself to a bunch of strangers. I would say that each time I got up there, I was proud for overcoming something I was so afraid to do. I was always naturally funny, I think because I grew up in a domestic war between my parents and it became clear to me that all I wanted was to see the people I loved smile,” Rosie confessed. “One of my favorite comedians Jessica Kirson says,

‘comedy is tragedy, plus time.’

It’s the way people react to tragedy,” says Rosie. “I don’t know of a single great comedian who didn’t have a tragic upbringing.

For a very long time, I did some amazing things: I made the Queen of England’s Royal Guards laugh and captured the eye of Heidi who talked about my juicer bra to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. I’ve had amazing shows, where I was high for weeks afterwards, and then I’ve also had shows where I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out again. Things every comedian goes through.”

“After ten years of chasing my dreams around the World, I went back to school. Somehow I ended up finishing my degree at Columbia University. There I had to take a music class. For the first time in my life, I started listening to Classical music. I had a music teacher who said, ‘take more music classes.’ I didn’t do that, but around that time, I started playing ukulele, and I started twiddling on an organ I inherited from my great-grandmother. Becoming a singer-songwriter kind of happened on accident. I wrote that parody song for one of my skits and told my musical friends, I needed a band to perform it live. Typhoid Rosie came about as a joke, really. We played a couple shows and that was that.

In 2011, I went to Spain, and saw a bullfight and I cried the entire time. This spectacle of death deeply moved me. That’s when I wrote my first serious song called, ‘El Toro.’ I think it was this song that showed that I had some song writing talent. My boyfriend who was a drummer, finally agreed to join my band, as long as we didn’t play ‘joke songs.’ Typhoid Rosie became something much more than I ever dreamed it would be. I would say that when my boyfriend joined Typhoid Rosie, he became the major driving force of the band, and we’re just about to release our second record now, Hearts Bleed Goodbye.” 

I should have marked [SPOILER ALERT] at the beginning of this piece when I told you that Rosie’s husband was also her drummer, so I guess it’s not hard for you to surmise that the drummer boyfriend is the same person. I mean c’mon – how many drummer boyfriends do you think she had before there was drummer husband?

I asked Rosie about the transition of her relationship with her husband when she made the switch from comedy to music, which was initially “his thing.”

“I’ll tell you about my relationship with my husband when it comes to song writing. We never thought that we would make music together. The coolest part about it is that we can write songs in our living room…and we have. We wrote ‘Till We Meet Again’ in our living room. More than that, he knows what these songs are all about because there’s nobody who understands me better. The other cool part is, sitting down with him and watching him produce the record. He’s got so much talent for helping me flush out these ideas, and for making them the best they can be. As a drummer, he’s kind of the heart beat of the band, and is the one who keeps me in check.

The down side is, that he’ll let me know when I suck,” she openly said. “I can’t just leave band practice happy. I have to ride with him home in the car and hear about the bad stuff too.

Finally, he’s the hardest person to please, but I listen to him always because I know that he knows what he’s talking about. He’s been playing in bands since he was 13 – the man knows what he’s doing. He’s a whiz.” 

Rosie than moved on to talk about their relationship when it’s unplugged.

“As far as being my husband – maybe it’s strange that I wrote a love song about my drummer,” she laughed. “The song is called, ‘On The Day,’ and it’s about how we’ve come to such a place in our relationship that we can’t start over. Sometimes I wonder if I met some new strapping, handsome man who captivates me with his beauty, it’s so quick that I remember what I have with someone that I’ve been with for so long and it’s worth so much more. How would I ever be able to describe my Mother’s laugh to a new boyfriend, or even describe what my Grandparents were like? This man was there, and he was by my side while I buried these people. It takes a lot of courage to stand by someone through the worst times, the good times are a breeze. In my opinion the real test of love is seeing someone at their worst and what someone is willing to endure because they love you,” As a hopeless romantic – Rosie’s truthfulness here resonated with me more than a response I’ve ever gotten from any other artist. I’ve always believed in the power behind couples in the industry and the magic of what a relationship’s past can do for it’s future. It’s amazing to see those two things come to fruition with this dynamic duo.

“Nobody else in the world will ever understand me on the level that he does,” Rosie continued. “Having him by my side through the worst days is something that I can never replace. I’ve seen people just throw away husbands and wives like human trash. I get it that people change, and everyone’s chasing happiness like some mystical unicorn. But happiness comes and goes in waves, it doesn’t stay. So it is an honor to be this man’s wife, and secondly it’s AMAZING that we can make music together.” 

As far as other forms of inspiration in Rosie’s life, I asked about the other people that light the spark for her musically and personally.

As a singer I would say my biggest inspiration is Nicole Atkins. I remember seeing her sing. I was so blown away. The thing that moved me so much was her ability to access all her raw emotion when she sang. The singers I’m most impressed with are like great actors. Nicole Atkins is one of the first modern singers since my favorite soul singers that I’ve seen do that. When I listen to music, or even watch comedy, if I sense that this person hasn’t endured a great deal of suffering it’s kind of a turn off for me. I want to be clear, I never really want to sing like Nicole Atkins because I want my music to be a reflection of my own soul. I never want to make music that’s trying too hard to be or sound like someone else. But like Nicole Atkins, I look to channel those stormy seas, and raw emotions that are also churning inside of me. That’s what’s most important to me as a singer.” 

As a witness of Rosie’s music, I think she does just that. Like I confessed earlier, with my somewhat extensive knowledge of a lot of different genres and artists, I can’t pin point who she reminds me of, so I think she’s met her goal of being her very own captain on the stormy seas and bringing us along her journey.

“Musically, I care more about song-writing than I do about singing. I care deeply about all of the things that I pick to sing about. The most important thing to us as a band is probably the hook of a song.  A hook is what I look for in a song, and is all I really care about, and I know that it’s all our drummer / producer cares about. We’re never afraid to scrap anything. So the people who I look up to the most are never the greatest singers, they’re always the greatest songwriters – people like Brian Wilson. I am more captivated by genius than talent.” 

As such a huge supporter of the songwriting community, I asked Rosie if there was a song she’d heard lately that she wished she wrote.

Normally I’d say no, and that I never want to be any other band, but actually, I quite love this song by To Kill A King called ‘Oh My Love.’ If there’s a song I wish Typhoid Rosie pulled off, it’s that one. It’s a perfect mortal melody. My voice is also kind of perfect for that song. So I guess if I could kidnap a song that’s the one.” 

The great thing about Typhoid Rosie is they don’t have to kidnap someone else’s songs, because they have their own that are even more powerful than I think I can put into words. Rosie opened up to me about the songs she’s written that means the most to her.

We have a new album coming out, that I can honestly say that I’m really in love with all of the songs on it. Sometimes I love ‘Better To Know Now’ in a way that even if it wasn’t mine, I think I would still be obsessed with it. Then I also really love, ‘Run Along’ when I’m pretending to jog,” she joked. “But as far as the song that moves me the most, I’m gonna say ‘Hearts Bleed Goodbye.’ It is about the crippling depression I went through when my Mother died. She went out in a very tragic way, because I didn’t really get to say goodbye to the woman I loved most in this life.

But at band practice, I look forward to singing ‘Till We Meet Again’ the most. That’s the song. It’s the one that moves my soul. ‘Till We Meet Again’ is kind of the goodbye that we didn’t have, and when I sing it, I close my eyes, and with all my soul, I sing that one for my Mother. I’m sorry that most people won’t get to hear this album until Spring, because honestly it is probably the best thing I’ve made in this life. And the little of it that people have heard, is already blowing them away.” 

Rosie speaks passionately about everything she loves and that passion rings just as true in her music. As far as the pinnacle of her career thus far,

Well this upcoming record, Hearts Bleed Goodbye is kind of the pinnacle, but it won’t be until everyone hears it, and we all win Grammy’s.

The record will be out this Spring. We have 2 singles out now on Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes, and we’re releasing a third single around Valentines Day.”

Rosie says their latest project is a more serious record than what they’ve put out in the past. She recalls knowing her vocal range better in the recording of their latest album and dealing with tragedies in between the time of their first record and this one that altered her vulnerability a bit. Like the greats she says she admires, I believe it’s evident to hear Rosie channel the pain the heartache into something relatable and therefore, beautiful.

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