INTERVIEW: Rosegarden Funeral Party Talk Band Philosophy, New Single, & Upcoming Tour

In a short time, local post-punks Rosegarden Funeral Party have made their mark on the Dallas-Fort Worth-Denton music scene. Having released an EP (The Chopping Block), a mini live album (Live Last Night: Live from the Double Wide in Dallas), and a bunch of singles, the band has received substantial critical acclaim. Most recently, they were nominated for three Central Track Music Honors (Best Group, Best Live Act, Best Female Vocalist). Of course, last year they won two Dallas Observer Music Awards (Best Hardcore Act, Best Female Vocalist) and were nominated in three other categories (Best Group Act, Best Music Video, Best New Act). That said, the band has stretched out beyond the metroplex limits, playing all over Texas and mounting a few west coast tours that have taken them through California and up the Pacific Northwest. Indeed, for such a young band, it’s remarkable the commitment they’ve made to the music and to each other.

The band has a new single (“Once In A While”) out today and we’re happy to share the video here. They have a few gigs around Texas this month before heading out west for a 6-week tour (see tour dates at the end of the interview).

We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Leah Lane and drummer Dylan Stamas to learn more about the band, their philosophy on interacting with fans and playing anywhere and everywhere they’re wanted, and the status of their first full-length album.

the void report:  The band is about to embark on a 6-week tour, correct?

Leah Lane:  Yeah, we are going to leave on March 27th and we are going to make our way to San Diego to play our first date at San Diego Content Partners, which is a really cool house show, punk venue. We’re going on tour with a band called Violator from the Bay Area of California. It’s a one-man electronic/dark wave/industrial act, obviously inspired by Depeche Mode, hence the title. We will be back on the 10th of May, but our last date will be in Houston on the 9th with a Sisters of Mercy tribute band at Marquee Moon. They are called Temple of Mercy and they’re great. They’re good friends of ours and we love Sisters of Mercy, so it will be a great way to close out the tour.

the void report:  A lot of young, local bands seem to be satisfied just to get some music up on Spotify or SoundCloud and play a gig once a month, or once every six weeks, but you guys seem to really gig a lot and have done several West Coast tours.  What’s your philosophy as far as getting the band out there in front of people? Because, it seems a little bit more aggressive than a lot of other bands.

Leah Lane:  Well, it kind of has to do with the fact that I’m trying to move this band to Los Angeles, so we’re doing a lot of tours to kind of saturate ourselves on the West Coast because we want to move to the West Coast. But really, I mean, I don’t think that there’s any point in doing anything unless you take it to the full extent. I’m taking this band to the full extent of what a band could be, so I’m trying to break it. I can’t break it by just playing in Dallas, so my philosophy has always been: “Take every show you’re offered because you never know who’s going to be standing in the room.”

That’s contradictory to a lot of the things that I’m told today. Because a lot of the time, people will come up to me and then it’s like, “Rosegarden plays too much. You guys are over saturated.” But the fact of the matter is we play so much locally because we’re about to leave for six more weeks. Because last year, we finished up a year playing 98 dates total,  which is insane, and we’re looking to beat that this year.  That’s why we play so much locally, and that’s why we’re so aggressive in the local scene, because we know we’re going to leave. We know we’re going to be gone, so we want to make a presence.

Leah Lane. Photo by Corey Smith.

the void report:  It’s also a little bit of a risk doing tours.

Leah Lane:  Yeah, it’s a huge risk.

the void report:  Especially on the West Coast.  Has anyone told you how impractical it is to do West Coast versus East Coast tours? (Laughs)

Leah Lane:  (Laughs) Yes, everyone. Absolutely. But, what we’ve noticed, or what kind of came to our attention, was that when we hit California, people started latching onto us like never before. When we played our first show in LA, which was at Bar Sinister, the whole rest of the evening we were asked, “What part of LA are you from?” We were like, “Oh, we’re not from LA. We’re from Dallas.” They would say, “That’s insane. You guys have to move to LA. You guys would go so well with everything that’s here.”

The second time we came back, and the third time we came back, it was the same thing. It wasn’t just in LA, it was in the Bay Area, it was all over California. Everyone was just like, “Oh, you guys are obviously a California band.” No one believed us that we were from Texas, so we were like, “Well might as well go where the market is.” You know what I mean? We like driving. We have this huge van that I drive everywhere.

the void report:  You’re doing all the driving?

Leah Lane:  I do all the driving. I do all or most of the booking.  I do all the logistical work. I try to make it so the boys show up and play their parts.

the void report:  Show up, look pretty, and play their parts.

Leah Lane:  Yeah, definitely look pretty. That’s a big thing.

Dylan Stamas:  Yeah, suit up.

Leah Lane:  That’s a big thing. Suit up.

Dylan Stamas:  I think too, the biggest thing….playing with other bands and other artists and stuff, the biggest thing that I’ve seen playing with this band is everyone in it is kind of under the same thing that all they want to do is play music. Everyone just makes it number one priority. I’ve just never seen that kind of cohesive understanding in a band before.

I’m kind of the newest addition here, so it was like…coming into it, I just didn’t know what to expect and seeing that was what made me say like, “All right, cool. They’re serious.” That’s what it’s always been and I think that’s why it’s kind of going somewhere. It’s like we’re all in it for the same reason. It’s just to play music with each other and have fun.

Rosegarden Funeral Party. Photo by Corey Smith.

the void report:  I definitely see how that’s a big selling point for the new guy in the band. It’s not just like, “Yeah, you know…I’ll call you and we’ll practice.”

Dylan Stamas:  Yeah, that’s what I thought coming into, it was like, “Oh, this will be something where we play like a couple local gigs,” like on the weekend here and there. Seriously. I heard the music and I was like, “Okay, this is really…I’m really stoked off this. I really dig what they’re doing. I like the message.” Then, coming into it and starting to play with them, it was, “Okay, yeah. No, this is like a real thing. Everyone’s on the same page with this.”

the void report:  It wasn’t: “We scored a gig in Denton at this taco joint and we’re all going to hang out after and have tacos“?

Leah Lane:  Yeah, he got the privilege of coming in after the taco joint.

the void report:  No offense to the taco joint. I love tacos.

Leah Lane:  We had a great time and that’s the philosophy that I’ll always stick by. We really will play anywhere that we’re wanted. The people want to come and listen to Rosegarden Funeral Party play, we’ll be there, and we’ll do it because it’s just about getting in front of people.

Dylan Stamas:  That was the thing I didn’t expect…it was like one weekend we’re playing some underground thing in a comic book store and the next weekend we’re playing a theater. It’s just so…all of it, it’s like a little bit of every scene that you could see as far as live music goes, and I was just, “All right, I’m cool. I’m for it. Let’s do it.”

Leah Lane:  That’s the best thing ever, when people ask Rosegarden to play things that I never thought Rosegarden would get asked to play. Like tonight, we kind of go with Crooked Bones, but we’re kind of the outliers on this bill as the only kind of actual neo-eighties band. We’re here because we love everybody here. They’re great people. They’re good friends, and we love their music. Mixed genres bills, mixed themed bills, I think that that’s really important to building the community. That’s really my favorite part of playing music is the community that’s built around it and the friends you make doing it, and the lives you touch, because it is an emotional experience.

the void report:  Well, I really respect that philosophy because I’ve talked to some bands who have good reputations and followings, have good albums out, and they’re like, “Well, we played there last month, so we can’t go back for like another two.” I’m just like, “I don’t get it. They want you to play, right?

Leah Lane:  Rosegarden has a habit of forgetting about proximity clauses. I’m just like, “Any show, let’s go. Like, right now!” And we also have a habit for forgetting our checks (Laughs).

the void report:  (Laughs) That’s bad business.

Leah Lane:  I know. I know. I’m getting way better about it now that we need to spend money on tours, but in the beginning Rosegarden had a bad habit of forgetting to pick up our checks, because it wasn’t about that for us. Then they get real mad at me, the boys do, because I give all the merch away. It’s so much more of an emotional, communal, heartfelt experience to me.

the void report:  There’s some kind of marketing genius behind that, because those people are going to be fans for life.

Leah Lane:  I think that what the marketing is, it’s not marketing at all. I think that it’s being genuine. There is so little of that in today’s world. There’s so little of just genuine excitement and kindness that is extended towards another. There’s genuine excitement for the things that you’re doing, but I think that general excitement, and your genuine excitement for somebody else, and just being so excited that they enjoyed the set, like that’s what it is for me.

That’s why when anyone comes up and tells me they like the record or they loved the set, it’s hard for me not to just cry, because I love that they connected with it. It’s kind of obvious on our social media. You see that we’re always so privileged and humbled and grateful to play with our talented, beautiful, wonderful friends that we love. They’re outpouring, loving, and I think that…I don’t know, that’s just how we are as people.

I’ve had some people tell me, “You guys come across…It’s kind of like you’re ass kissing all the time.” And I’m like, “That’s sad that that kind of kindness and that kind of love to, just frankly, everyone, is looked at as something negative.” We kind of want to change that.

the void report:  I totally appreciate that aspect of what y’all are doing.

Leah Lane:  Thanks.

the void report:  But yeah, why shouldn’t you be grateful? And whose ass are you kissing?

Leah Lane:  Exactly.

the void report:  Fuck them. But, I’m a little bit of an asshole.

Dylan Stamas & Leah Lane of Rosegarden Funeral Party. Photo by Carson Allen.

Leah Lane:  No, no. I get that. I mean, we all are too. I mean, everyone is kind of a dick.

Dylan Stamas:  But, we’re real people.

Leah Lane:  Yeah, we’re real people. We’re not fake people.

Dylan Stamas:  That’s the thing, we just want to…Leah put it really well too, when I first joined. She was like, “We kind of want to humanize music.” Musicians are looked at as Gods or otherworldly, and it’s like, “Dude, we just want to always remain approachable.”

Leah Lane:  I told him, “I don’t like the whole rock star, god of rock, untouchable guitar hero thing.” I hate that because, to me, it contradicts any real lyricism because if your lyrics go farther than that persona then…

the void report:  It comes off as phony.

Leah Lane:  It comes off as phony, exactly. So, every time that I talk to somebody after a show or do an interview or do any stage performance, there’s no persona. It’s just like you were hanging out in my apartment and we were just hanging out, listening to records.

Dylan Stamas:  That’s been the coolest thing to see. No matter what we play, big or small, it’s like the attitudes never change.

Leah Lane:  And the show never changes.  We go hard, every time.

Dylan Stamas:  Yeah. Whether it’s been 10 people or 12,000, it’s the same show. Even rehearsal. When we’re just alone, jamming, we have a blast, and that’s what’s so cool about it. I don’t know, I just love the fact that we do…we’ll always remain approachable, and if you want to reach out, reach out.  We’ll be out in our daily life, and someone will come out and say something about Rosegarden. I’ll call Leah and be like, “Dude, that was so cool.” Or she’ll call me. It really does mean the world. It’s not like a phony, “Oh, we’re glad to meet you.” Genuinely, it makes our day and we hope our music makes yours better. That’s the whole thing full circle.

the void report:  Well, I saw you guys at Three Links, it was six or seven months ago, and I want to say it was a weeknight, and seriously, there was like 20 people there. Then, I saw y’all on New Year’s Eve at Double Wide, a full house, the same show.

Leah Lane:  There are people watching you. It doesn’t matter if there are 10 people or 10,000, it wouldn’t matter because somebody is standing watching what you’re doing.  It’s really cool. So…someone is still standing there watching us play, and that in itself is just like a giant honor. How can we not put on a great show even if it’s to one person.

the void report:  A lot of the press I’ve seen for you guys, thus far, is either focused on the young age of the band members or that it’s a female-fronted band.  At this stage in where you guys are at, does that bother you at all?

Leah Lane:  The age thing doesn’t bother me at all. I think it’s cool that we’re young. It just means that we have more time in us to do things. I’ve been the baby. When I was a kid and playing at Three Links with my old psychedelic band, we used to be like, “Thanks for coming, we’re going to go do homework.” It’s like, whatever, you’re 16 at the time, you know? Everyone knows you’re 16, you’ve got big X’s on your hands. What are you trying to prove, kind of thing. Yeah, so the age thing doesn’t bother me at all. I’m 21-years old and proud of that fact. I think I’ve done a lot.

The female-fronted thing does bother me, because I don’t think that female-fronted is a genre. I don’t think that just because I’m a girl we should be looked at differently by any other standard other than just our music. I understand that it’s rarer than male-fronted bands, statistically. When I think about Rosegarden Funeral Party, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t the fact that I’m a girl. I think that the message is the same whether it’s delivered from a man or a woman. So I kind of overlook gender, as far as that’s concerned.

the void report:  Last October, you guys released the single “Another Dead Soul.”  Which seemed, to my ears, a little more complex. A little bit less guitar-driven than The Chopping Block EP. You’ve got the new single coming out on the 8th, does this follow down that path?

Leah Lane:  No. Not at all. “Another Dead Soul” was definitely kind of a genre-bending one-off as far as we’re concerned. We were just experimenting.  We weren’t really sure who our drummer was at the time. It just kind of seemed like a logical thing to do, to do a more electronic-based track.

The next single that’s coming out is far more Rosegarden Funeral Party. It’s guitar-driven, there’s synthesizer leads, there’s very dynamic drumming and melodic base, and lyrical content that comes from the heart; you will get something that far more mirrors The Chopping Block. Although “Another Dead Soul” is very lyrically genuine. Musically, sonically, it doesn’t mirror The Chopping Block; whereas, the next single’s that’s coming out that’s called “Once In A While” does.

Rosegarden Funeral Party. Photo by Corey Smith.

the void report:  I was going to ask what you could tell us about the new single. Maybe from a lyrical perspective?

Leah Lane: “Once In A While” is about how I’m constantly trying to do everything I can, for everyone, all the time, and never say “no” to an opportunity. I continue to push myself and work hard, but sometimes I lose myself because I struggle with depression. I’ll lose myself in depression and I feel defeated by it. I know that the thing I must continue to do is just keep pushing and moving forward, that’s kind of what “Once In A While” is about. It’s about the times when your bottles break, to quote “Another Dead Soul,” because that’s the lyric. When your sanity kind of cracks and you realize that all of these emotions that you’ve suppressed still exist and that’s what it’s about.

the void report:  So, where do we stand on the first full-length Rosegarden Funeral Party album?

Leah Lane: The first full length Rosegarden Funeral Party album will be, without a doubt, released by July. I promise. Guns are blazing. I’m getting this record out. I promise. We’ve been sitting on it too long, too much has stood in the way of it.

Rosegarden Funeral Party Tour Dates

MAR 9  The Tin Panther, Fort Worth, TX,
MAR 14  Dozen Street, Austin, TX
MAR 15  Andy’s Bar & Grill, Denton, TX
MAR 17  Wax Club Lounge, San Antonio, TX
MAR 29  San Diego Content Partners, San Diego, CA,
APR 3  Resident, Los Angeles, CA
APR 4  Aurea Vista Night Club and Bar, Riverside, CA
APR 7  Root Access Hackerspace, Fresno, CA
APR 8  The Golden Bull Bar, Oakland, CA
APR 9  The Hotel Utah Saloon, San Francisco, CA
APR 11  The Colony, Sacramento, CA
APR 12  The Holland Project, Reno, NV
APR 13  Old Nick’s Pub, Eugene, OR
APR 15  The Lovecraft Bar, Portland, OR
APR 17  The Plaid Pig Live Music Lounge, Tacoma, WA
APR 18  The Charleston, Bremerton, WA
APR 19  The Observatory, Spokane, WA
APR 25  Metro Music Hall, Salt Lake City, UT
APR 27  The Dive Bar, Las Vegas, NV
APR 28  The Lunchbox, Phoenix, AZ
MAY 3  Mutiny Information Cafe, Denver, CO
MAY 5  The AllWays Lounge & Cabaret, New Orleans, LA
MAY 7  Poor Boys Bar, New Orleans, LA
MAY 8  Intracoastal Club, Houma, LA
MAY 9  Marquee Moon, Houston, TX
MAY 16  Three Links, Dallas, TX
MAY 17  Richardson Wildflower Festival, Richardson, TX
MAY 18  Doc’s Records & Vintage, Fort Worth, TX
JUN 8  1313, San Antonio, TX
JUL 6  Harvest House, Denton, TX
JUL 20  Bar Sinister, Los Angeles, CA

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