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Interview: Timmy Rough, The New Roses Pt.1

Prior to their headlining appearance at the Rockmantic Weekender in Carlisle, The New Roses made a pit stop in Edinburgh for a headline gig of their own. I grabbed vocalist and guitarist Timmy Rough for a chat.

The New Roses will be performing at Rockmantic Weekender tomorrow night. It’s a great event with a very strong line up. Are you familiar with many of the bands?

“Not really to be honest. We are looking forward to it, and it should be great. Our dear friends The New Generation Superstars have been filling us in on some of the other bands.”

It’s a varied line up, with some great bands from all over the UK. I’m sure that there will be a lot of partying going on!

“Oh no! I can’t compete anymore! We play so much at the moment, that we don’t really get a chance to celebrate the successes. It all goes so fast now. We play so many countries. Last year, I believe we played in 14 different countries… all over Europe. We went to Afghanistan, played Hellfest… so we didn’t get the time to stop and celebrate. You always have to be ready and be in good shape the next day. Our highest goal is that every show must be a high class show and nobody is disappointed. So no drinking sessions!”

I saw Pete Way live a few years back, and he seemed out of it. He leaned over to get a drink from someone in the front row, and fell off the stage. Gig cut short.

“The same thing has happened to me a few times, a combination of being tired and drunk. Before I had even sung the first lines, I had fallen over. This was back in the days when you had no goal, no ambition. You just wanted to be on the road, and it was crazy, more like a vacation, but now you appreciate and value the fact that people drive hours to see your show, pay their hard earned money. I’ve been a rock ‘n’ roll fan all my life, and over the years I’ve seen so many bands in concert that have gotten shit-faced, and really disappointed me. I’m just more wary these days of homemade mistakes. I don’t want to show the audience that I don’t care. I want them to know that we appreciate them. Plus, it’s just a shit feeling to go on stage hungover! Don’t get me wrong, I love to party, we all do. After the last show of last year, I went out to America to visit a good friend, and for three weeks I could let myself go!.”

You seem quite disciplined?

“You have to be, otherwise the audience will go follow another band tomorrow. If we are your favourite band and you come to a gig and we let you down, then you will move on. Live is really the only chance that we get to convince you, so why risk it?”

The New Roses are a live band. You constantly tour!

“We have been on the road pretty much since the day that we started the band. We started off pretty slowly, no-one giving a shit about us. No-one knew us, we produced the first album ourselves, selling it out the back of a truck after gigs. Things started happening after that. Word started to build up. We were picked to be on the Sons Of Anarchy soundtrack, which was cool, as that meant we played a lot of biker clubs, festivals, etc. We got some management who got us the deal with Napalm, then ‘Thirsty’ from the second album was picked up by German rock radio, and then things started to take off. We released the new record in August last year, and again, German rock radio picked up on a few songs, so that helped. The ticket sales then started to grow times twenty, or something like that. I just write songs, we play them live, and we hope that people tell their friends, and bring a few more people the next time.”

It’s a very competitive market out there at the moment. Lots of bands touring, giving music fans choices on what gig to go to…

“… and that’s why I don’t really drink anymore. You want people to be talking about your show for the right reasons. You want them to come back again.”

With the new album, ‘One More For The Road’, I felt that you could tell that the band had a lot more experience behind them. More settled.

“Yeah, the first record was the hardest, as we had so many different styles of music as influences, from Marvin Gaye soul to Pantera with everything in between. Blues like Howlin’ Wolf, and country like Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks, it was all over the place. I love Led Zeppelin, but Urban, our drummer, hates them. The guys in the band love Guns N’ Roses, but I fucking hate them… so our first album was so difficult, as I wrote songs where one would be a straight up country song, then the next one would be tough rock n’ roll, next one bluesy. Our music was hard to define. We were close to splitting up because we couldn’t agree on what we were going to do.”

‘Dead Man’s Voice’ is such a strong second album. I would never have guessed that The New Roses contemplated splitting up.

“After the debut, the second album was easy because we had like a North Pole, y’know? Something to focus on. This is where we come from, so we can’t really deviate with styles. And it gets easier record to record as I know, well, no-one will like that song, so the third record was a lot easier!”

You handle all the song-writing, yeah?

“I never saw myself as a songwriter. I always seem to do what nobody else does in the band. I started out as a saxophone player, and then I started singing in a band because the singer quit. I picked up the guitar because nobody else would, as the guitarist quit. I started writing songs because nobody else would. I do what I do today because nobody else did in the past! The first record was difficult, because you are trying to find your voice, your style, and now it’s getting easier, as you pick up skills as you go along and you learn what feels right. You learn to trust your intuitions. For example, ‘Life Ain’t Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair) might not sound like a typical New Roses song, it has a bit of a country vibe, but my intuition told me that it would be fine. Had I written that for the first record, then I’m sure that I would not have had the guts to put it on the record.”

That song, in particular, I feel is a great example of what The New Roses are all about. The hooks are massive, and it’s easy to sing along to!

“That was one of the only things that we agreed on since day one. We don’t want to be a twelve minute song band with no choruses. We all agreed on Aerosmith, Springsteen, The Black Crowes, The Stones – great bands with great choruses. We felt we needed these big choruses. In the beginning, it doesn’t work that easy, as you write shit songs! It took a while, and I always write three times more songs than what makes it onto the record!”

What’s the songwriting process like for you?

“I’m already writing for the next album, but when you play 100 shows a year, making videos, doing press, etc… and you have to write at least thirty songs to pick the ones that make it onto the record, that’s hard. All of them have to be at a certain level, and that kills me. I can’t sleep at night because of it!”

Is that the stress of striving for perfection keeping you awake at night?

“Yeah, I’m always thinking, ‘Oh this one is not good enough’, or ‘Maybe I don’t have it in me again’. Everyone relies on you; the record company, the management… The other band members are like, ‘So we need new songs…’, and everyone knows, no good new songs equals no more success. Songwriting has that frightening feeling of, “I’m empty. Maybe it’s gone”, and that always makes me nervous, but that’s always been the same since day one. The last record I thought it was shit when we went into the studio!”      


Our chat with Timmy continues here.


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