"I like things that make me feel like I'm falling into a disorienting, cinematic dream that wakes me up and lingers all day," says lead singer Gina Barrington.
The lush, dreamy vibes of Rose Of The West feel like they are about to envelop you. Risen from the ashes of lead singer Gina Barrington’s previous band, Nightgown, this new iteration incorporates a notable cast of Milwaukee musicians like Erin Wolf (Group of the Altos, Hello Death), Thomas Gilbert (formerly of GGOOLLDD) and Jake Brahm (formerly of Canopies) with the only other Nightgown holdover Amelinda Burich (Group of the Altos and Winter Bear). On its debut two-song EP, the band discovers a semblance of light in the darkness, growing a bare flame into a magnificent fire.
In advance of Rose Of The West’s Cactus Club performance on Monday, October 2, with Jenny Besetzt and LUXI, lead singer Gina Barrington dishes on the humble attitude of the new outfit, poring over the U2 lyrics her dad printed out and posted on a wall when she was young and the band’s future.
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Other than the line-up change, what’s the biggest difference between Nightgown and Rose Of The West?
I would say the most obvious difference is that Rose Of The West is true. In the sense of where my music sat in my heart and mind originally, and everyone contributes in their own way thoughtfully and whole-heartedly to maintain the integrity of it now. ROTW is an actual joy for me.
You’ve admitted to being the least experienced member of the group. Does that affect the songwriting process?
I may have the least experience being in a band and performing, as everyone else in ROTW has been in multiple projects for a long time, but I have been writing songs forever. I used to be alone in the process of it, and now I have Thomas [Gilbert] to bounce things back and forth before going to the band with the idea. A lot of these songs have been in my vault now for a long time, and are just now being realized. I am looking forward to getting them all out there and making more music with these magical people.
Do you remember what kind of music was playing in your house when you were growing up? Do you think that had an influence on the band’s style?
Honestly, in my immediate family’s home there wasn’t much music playing, and when there was it was usually coming from my room or a blaring program on MTV or VH1. I spent a lot of time with my grandparent’s home where I would frequently hear baroque, classical or traditional Italian folk music. I would see my father on weekends and he was always listening to music and had a small record collection.
One impactful memory is seeing the lyrics to some his favorite songs printed out in old school computer paper and taped to the walls, usually U2 Joshua Tree songs. I remember being very young and spending hours pondering what the true meaning was behind those very specific lines he hung up and how it actually related to my dad, and life: like what was the meaning of a line like, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for?” If any of this had any influence at all, I’d say that’s pretty much why I keep it heavy with mood.
Shepherd Express‘s Evan Rytlewski compared your dreamy voice to that of David Lynch’s oeuvre and I tend to agree with that characterization. Do you find yourself interested in art that is more surrealist?
That is a welcome comparison for me. I find myself mostly always attracted to art, film and music that lend themselves to the surrealist vibe. I like things that make me feel like I’m falling into a disorienting, cinematic dream that wakes me up and lingers all day.
What are the future plans for Rose Of The West?
Simple: let the music guide us, we go where it goes. We are looking forward to sharing another single this January and a record in early spring.