Interview: Lucy Rose

By on Wednesday, 2nd October 2013 at 11:00 am

Before playing an opening set for City and Colour in Washington, Cheryl had a chance to chat to the lovely Lucy Rose at the 9:30 Club about blending tea, tow trucks and what’s up next for this rising star.

Over the summer you worked really hard on getting your album released in the U.S., and it’s out today, so congratulations!
Thank you very much.

Can you tell me a little about what it was like touring America when the album wasn’t out yet, it must have been tough. Were people responding to the music when they didn’t have anything to go off of?
I think it was difficult mainly because I didn’t even know if it ever would happen so when people were asking about it, and you’re touring, especially when I was with Bombay Bicycle Club. Part of me was like, I just have to do it, I have to get it out. If I made a big enough deal about it then it would happen, touch wood. It has been one of those things that I’ve had to be insistent about with my label. It’s really complicated in ways. But now, knowing it’s out is nice to be able to play my show and people can go find it if they want it.

Earlier you were here supporting your good friends Bombay Bicycle Club but now you are on tour with City and Colour, how does it feel different since it’s not with your mates from home?
This is really different because I was singing with Bombay Bicycle Club and they were nice enough to let me sing. Because I was singing with them so much, I wasn’t concentrating on my own music as much as I wanted to and they knew that. So they let me be first on with a 20-minute acoustic of my own. Which was super kind of them. But this time it’s different. Before it was almost like my friends doing me a favour, helping each other out. And now I’ve got the whole band and I’ve been asked by people I’ve never know before. You sort of feel a bit like”, oh, an actual real respected band wants us to come and play music with them” and they don’t even know us. I mean, they must like the music. We’ve been really lucky with supports. We just did a UK tour with Counting Crows. That was just mental when you get an email from the Counting Crows to support them. How are we even on their radar?

Have you noticed any significant difference between American audiences and those back at home? How they react to your work?
Well, so far we’ve only done two shows with City and Colour and the audience has blown our mind, they seem to be so much more vocal. The UK crowds, well normally at festivals they’re drunk and merry and in the mood. Whereas we were going on super early and I don’t think there was too much time to get drunk. We played Northampton (Massachusetts) and at the end of our 45 minutes we just thought hopefully some people would like it and we had a full standing ovation at the end of our set. Everyone’s so ridiculously nice, it was very important to us to have people openly supportive of us.

Seems like you had a really good festival season, can you tell me a highlight?
Festival season is so weird because you’ve got the main ones everyone’s heard of like Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, all those big ones. But most bands doing festivals, like us, we did festivals every weekend for 3 months so we were doing a lot of obscure smaller festivals with just few thousand people each. So it’s really different. Every weekend, every day. You can do a small one on Friday and then suddenly you’re at a ridiculous one. The highlight for us has to be Glastonbury. It was so early on in the festival season and there were so many bands playing at Glastonbury. We knew we were up against massive, massive bands playing at the same time as us. And we had a full tent – it was amazing. Not only did we play Glastonbury, but we got a full tent.

Any lowlights to admit to?
Yes, don’t let me re-live that day! We were playing a weird festival, headlining it. A tiny one called Lemonfest. Tiny, as you can tell if we were headlining it. It was just on a Friday and we were in a terrible van and our van broke down on the way to the festival. It wasn’t a completely bad festival, but to sum up, their headliner turned up on the back of a tow truck with huge yellow lights being towed right onto the field. It was so ridiculous that we just decided to enjoy the laugh.

What’s the genesis of your tea? How did it come about, why tea? How well does it sell?
I didn’t bring any to America. But in the UK, obviously, it sells really well. Some people come up to me and say “Where’s your tea?” I’ll get tweets that say, “I’m on my last teabag and I’m freaking out, where can I get some?”

If you had brought some, I would have bought it.
Really? That’s what I’m talking about, it’s only £5. It’s pretty cheap for a tin and it’s really good tea. It’s a mixture between English Breakfast and Earl Grey, I don’t know why no one else has done it. It came about because I was obsessed with having this blend.

So developed the mixture yourself?
Yeah, but there is no genius there, I was putting one of each in a teapot. But I went to a tea factory and asked. “could you just get the leaves and blend it for me?” So they did that in this tiny tea factory, I bought the tins, and got the stickers made for me. And I had to assemble these things on my own for hours and hours on end. I thought I haven’t got any CDs, I haven’t actually recorded anything yet, but I’ve got tea. So I took the tea to these tiny gigs. I even got a tweet the other day that said, “I’m not really into your music, but your tea is incredible”.

Do the songs that you are working on now have a different flavour now that you’ve got some renown going, probably because you are writing on the road? What do you think the difference will be?
When I was writing the first songs, they were just written in my bedroom, just me and an acoustic guitar, really not knowing if anyone would ever hear them. I also had another job at the time. When you get signed, you can quit your job and just go into music 100%. Until then that’s something you can’t do. Since then, I have been playing music every day and learning more every day. It’s built my confidence, I think. I think I feel a bit braver to try different things than I would when it was just me with my acoustic guitar. The new songs are going to be a bit louder, a little rockier than the first album. Yeah, much rockier than the first album. It’s due to the confidence. I think the first album was my heart, and hopefully this next one will be my development.

Are you still writing everything on your own, or with members of the band?
I don’t like writing with anyone else. Just because….

Are you a bit of a control freak?
I’m a huge control freak! I like getting people’s ideas, I like to ask them for advice, what do you think of this song. But there are things I like. That’s the thing with music, there is no wrong or right so if one person thinks the bass should go up to an A instead of C, that’s not necessarily better, it’s just different. So I think it’s important to stick with what feels right for you.

Who are your musical influences?
They are changing all the time. The first albums I was like a sponge taking in were Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Joan Armatrading, Carole King. Discovering all this stuff. I had just moved away from home, stopped listening to the radio and what was current and went into the past. That was massively influential to me. Now it’s looped on a full 360 and I’m listening to a lot of new indie stuff like the Maccabees, the Foals’ new album, Arctic Monkeys’ new one. So my influences aren’t just from one place. My collection has grown of what I listen to and what I can use.

Who would you like to duet with if you could sing with another woman?
There are so many brilliant women artists out there. I love Feist. Feist is like my hero. I would hate to meet her though because then she would see how incessantly uncool I am. She’s awesome.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year when you get back home? More touring, in the studio?
I am flying back just in time for my sister’s wedding! And then hopefully jumping straight into the studio. I’d like to get as much of the next album done before Christmas as possible.

Thanks for talking with me and good luck with the rest of the tour.
Brilliant, thank you.

Thank you to Lucy for taking the time to chat with us, and thank you also to Victoria for helping sort this interview.

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