Brooklyn-native Typhoid Rosie is a rock band fronted by Ivy League graduate and comedian turned singer-songwriter Rosie Rebel. Today she talked with ETV about her sense of duty to making people laugh, the meaning behind her band’s two latest singles, and her thoughts on supporting indie music.
“Growing up, my family didn’t have money,” said Rosie. “I didn’t have any toys. In a way it was great, because I used my imagination more than the average kid. My most treasured possession growing up was a little red radio with a tape player. All I did was listen to music.”
Rosie’s grew up listening to Doo Wop, Motown, and 60’s Rock due to her parent’s being baby boomers.
“My dad listened to Pink Floyd, and my Mother was a Beatles fanatic,” Rosie said. “I remember dancing in my living room to The Drifters’ ‘Save The Last Dance for Me’ with my father. The thing I love the most about music, is how it has the ability to access raw emotion. I guess that’s why Soul music is my favorite, because I can feel the pain being released through the music.”
Rosie has always loved music and although she began going to punk shows and all her friends were in bands, she did not consider herself a musician or a singer at the time. Instead, Rosie had to watch her parents go through a divorce, and it is through this experience where she realized she wanted to see the people she loved happy during tough times. She developed the skills to make people laugh and her journey into comedy began to take flight.
“I’ve always felt a sense of duty, and responsibility to make sure everyone around me was laughing and smiling,” Rosie said. “Comedy was the way I did that. The best comedians come from very tragic backgrounds. They usually have a lot of pain, and instead of thinking of themselves, they spend their lives trying to alleviate the pain of others through laughter, and it some way it heals them to see others happy.”
Rosie would then go on to travel the world and spent more than 10 years of her life doing comedy. Her journey would take her through the New York Underground Comedy Festival, the Columbia Film Festival, Amateur Night at the Apollo, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Galway Comedy Festival, and to Last Comic Standing, among others.
“I come from a very charismatic family,” Rosie said. “As far as I can think back, I was always funny. But it wasn’t just me, my whole family is funny.”
Her most memorable shows were doing comedy on Amateur Night at the Apollo, and also the time she performed at Hammerstein Ballroom in front of Heidi Klum and Howard Stern and thousands of other people. Afterward, Klum went to the Tonight Show and started talking about Rosie’s now nationally recognized bra-sterpieces on the show.
Rosie would eventually go back to school to finish her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University and as part of the core requirements, Rosie had to take a music class.
“For the first time in my life, I started listening to classical music,” Rosie said. “I fell in love with Beethoven and Bach. Around that time, I wrote my first song. My first song was a joke song about a girl with a yeast infection with a resistance to medicine, so she has to resort to home-made remedies. I needed a band to play this song live at my comedy shows. So I started Typhoid Rosie around this joke song. Then a little while later, I wrote my first serious song after seeing a bullfight in Spain. At some point, Typhoid Rosie became something more than being silly. I realized that I had more serious things to say, and music allowed me another way to express myself.”
However, the transition from comedy to music was not an easy one. One difficulty Rosie faced when starting and keeping a band together was trying to organize schedules around many different people who may start having kids or moving away. Rosie said the main difference between comedy and music is that comedy is a solo act but music is relying on the other members. Despite the difficulty, Rosie has formed and maintains a lineup that gets along well.
“The musicians we play with, and almost every musician I know, is making music purely for the love of it,” Rosie said. “Nobody is making music for the money, except a very small percentage of people who most likely have a massive record label behind them. I’ve always tried to make sure that my band is having fun, I never want to take their time for granted. We’re really lucky with our current lineup: Matt Kursmark, Chris Potter, Phil Wartell, Steve Capecci, and Leah Farmer. They’re extremely easy-going, and professional. It took years of changes to find a group of people who are not only proficient at their instruments, but also have the kind of personalities that keeps the band steady, fun, and working like a well-oiled machine.”
Rosie said the band recently had a photo shoot where everyone was having fun and that was great for her because she wants a band that is happy on and off the stage. Rosie said members who drag their feet and start drama are not healthy to have in a band and it takes time to replace them and to get the new members up to speed.
“You always want a group of people who get their work done, but also know how to let loose,” Rosie said. “The most productive companies in the world know how to keep their employees happy. You want to wake up every day and love what you do, and where you’re going. Our lives are way too valuable to stay the wrong places. As far as music goes, I would NEVER want to be the one to take away someone’s love for playing music. At the end of the day, they’re not doing it for the money, they’re doing it for the love of it. It took some time to get here, but Typhoid Rosie is finally where I’ve always wanted it to be.”
Within one year of the band’s formation, the group released its debut album “The Music Album,” which has received international radio play. Typhoid Rosie’s sound has been compared to Johnny Cash, Concrete Blonde, Fiona Apple, Amanda Palmer, Patti Smith, Garbage, Hole, and Jim Morrison. Although Rosie does sing, she identifies herself more a songwriter because her best skill has always been writing.
“I’m a songwriter at heart, and the thing I look for in a song is the lyrical ability for one person to make their experiences universal,” Rosie said. “The other most important thing to me is the hook. I’m a sucker for a good hook. My favorite song is probably ‘My Sweet Lord’ by George Harrison and ‘The Girl from North Country’ by Bob Dylan. If you ask me who I wish we could be, musically I look up to great song writers like Brian Wilson and Paul Simon. Intellectually, I love poets and philosophers like Leonard Cohen and Cat Stevens.”
The music of Typhoid Rosie has been built upon addictive melodies that are intertwined with humorous songs that can be about retired strippers and national televised paternity tests to philosophical musings. When it comes to songwriting, Rosie waits for inspiration to strike and makes sure not to force it.
“Sometimes, when I’m out walking my dog, a melody will come out and play,” Rosie said. “Usually songs come to me in pieces. The great thing about music, is that each one of the people you’re playing music with will all have an imprint on that song. I take all those song seed ideas and bring them to my band. Some of them will grow, and some of them won’t. Then we work on these songs for about a year, and when it comes to making a record, we take the very best of those songs to the studio.”
Two new songs have been released for the band’s upcoming album, titled “Hearts Bleed Goodbye” and “Better to Know Now.” The album was recorded in one day and Rosie said it’s the band’s best work yet because the songs come from a real place.
“Going to the studio is the very best part of it for me,” Rosie said. “It’s like a pilgrimage. There is something very magical about it, everybody knows that it’s a special moment. My favorite part is sitting down with our producer Phil, and our sound engineer Jimmy. Our sound engineer is a brilliant man, it’s an honor and a pleasure to see him work.”
“‘Hearts Bleed Goodbye’ is about my greatest wound, losing my mother,” Rosie said. “She died three days after my grandmother while leaving her wake. I wasn’t ready to lose her, and I didn’t get a chance to even say goodbye. I felt like my entire life was ripped in half. ‘Hearts Bleed Goodbye’ is about that crippling, paralyzing loss, and coldness I felt the day she died. My mother was an angel. This song is a testament to how much I love her.”
“Better To Know Now” is the other single from the band’s upcoming album.
“’Better to Know Now’ is about vulnerability,” Rosie said. “In this world there are givers, and takers. You may find out the hard way – that some people don’t always have the best intentions. My brother Gabriel told me, ‘You can’t give someone a heart Rosie. Some people have no conscience and feel nothing, and they’re usually the bad ones.’ There have been times in my life when I’ve freely given pieces of my heart to the wrong people. It reminds me of that proverb, ‘Don’t throw pearls before swine.’ I can blame the other person, but at some point I have to take some responsibility. You can’t get mad at a scorpion for stinging you. The thing with life is that there is every kind of person out there: some people are vultures and predators, and to others you are nothing but a step on a ladder, or a pawn in their game. But as a woman, I’ve learned that I have to be careful with who I share myself with, because nobody in the world can protect you when your guard is down. We have to be our own best guardians. Who will look out for you better than yourself? Women shouldn’t be so trusting, or put themselves in dangerous situations. Some people say that women should be able to run down the street naked, and not be harmed. That’s true, and I hate that we live in a world where women have to look over their shoulder walking home alone at night. But time has shown me otherwise. You won’t catch me running around the city naked, or getting drunk at a frat party. In an ideal world, everybody would do the right thing by their fellow man. But sadly, we don’t live in that World.
“I used a lot of metaphors in this song like wine, and water. People are like the ocean. The ocean is the most beautiful and mysterious symbol I can think of. You never know what lies beneath the surface. What may look like a beautiful serene swim, you have no idea what lurks beneath the surface. As I write about the ocean, I can’t help but think of my friend who drowned recently in a notoriously rough swimming spot in San Salvador. I saw pictures of the tidal pool where she drowned, and it looked like a lot of fun. I’ve had so many adventures with her. She was one of the few people I knew, who truly lived. You have to take risks, and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. But at the same time, be careful and vigilant, protect yourself. Not everyone deserves a piece of your body and soul. Sometimes what appears to be beautiful and fun, may also be a wrathful Poseidon. That’s what the song really is about.”
The two songs will be featured on the band’s second full length album titled “Hearts Bleed Goodbye.” There will soon be a third single released with a music video planned for spring 2016.T yphoid Rosie has an upcoming show on January 28 at Grand Victory in Brooklyn and once the album is out, they plan on touring in the local New York City and Tri State Areas. Typhoid Rosie’s entertaining stage shows have gotten their music featured on NBC, MTV Canada, Comedy Chords, and Eat Sleep Breathe Music.
“Our band is getting ready to melt as many faces as we can,” Rosie said. “We’re going to keep growing and growing. Every day, more and more people find our music. We have this incredible album, and my goal is to reach as many people as I can with it, because already we are having such a tremendous reaction to it… I’m looking forward to doing even better shows with Typhoid Rosie. I want to drink delicious coffee with these guys on cobble stones streets, and rock Prague the way I had my mind blown the first time I saw Gogol Bordello.”
Typhoid Rosie is rolling on all cylinders as they are on the verge of releasing a new album with plans to tour. Throughout all the ups and downs Rosie has gone through, we here at ETV know that the best is yet to come from her and the group. Rosie leaves us with her thoughts on supporting indie music:
“It moves me every time someone is moved by our music,” Rosie said. “So if you love our music write to me, I do my best to respond to everyone. Our fans are so important to us. With this album coming out, I’ve invested a great piece of my soul. We’ve made it the very best that it can sound. We’ve spent a year writing, rehearsing and recording these songs just for you. I encourage you to stream our songs on Spotify and Soundcloud, but if you love any song, and not just ours, I encourage you to splurge the .99 cents and buy it. Could you imagine pouring your heart and soul, a year of your life and your hard earned money into making the best work of your life, and being paid .0000000007 cents in return? If you love music, and you love listening to music, support artists. You would pay $5 for a coffee that will be gone from your body in an hour, but a good song will last you an entire lifetime, and one dollar is not a lot for something you will enjoy for years to come. Support Indie music, because those are the people who are giving everything of themselves simply for the love of music more than anything else. And there is so much great music out there because of it!”