Culture Corner: Of The Roses

May 9, 2023

Culture Corner

Episode 2: Of The Roses

In this episode of Culture Corner, Terry talks to the founders of the alternative rock band Of The Roses, a group from Austin, Texas, which features a blend of alternative rock and power pop. The founders and guests for this episode are Josh Delarosa and Serenity Autumn Hernandez Bogert, who have provided singing, songwriting, and multi-instrument playing for their group since 2020 before adding more members. (The current line-up consists of bass player Will Lord, keyboardist Aly Hicks, and drummer Alex “Wilhelm Scream.”) The pair sit down and discuss their background, influences, and the creative process they’ve gone through in the past and how it compares to the work put into their latest EP, Mirror’s Always Round

How Mirror’s Always Round Was Created (2:42)

According to Bogert, these were the first songs that she and Delarosa wrote together. Back in 2020, they would come up with a concept or a lyric that they would then bring to the other person to finish. This allowed them to create the unique songs that are now featured in their latest EP.

Bogert: Yeah, many of those songs we wrote in about 2020. Me and Josh were living together and we wrote a lot of those songs during the pandemic. We were shut in, so we just played everything on the record. We had an electronic drum kit to play in our little bitty apartment and not wake up neighbors or dogs. Everything else went directly into our little home studio. We wrote all those songs in 2020 and then recorded them in early 2022 after playing them for maybe a year.

The Songs Themselves (4:57)

With the title coming from a line in one of their tracks, Mirror’s Always Round encapsulates the songs on it as it explores the topics of paranoia and control. It features a combination of pop hooks, dance rock, and psychedelic noise and showcases Of The Roses’ ability to create powerful and stylized alternative songs. Each track has its unique style and features an ethereal blend of vocals and distorted guitar. They differ from the songs that were written during the same period but were released earlier. Their previous singles, “Leave Me Alone” and “Love & War,” had a more post-punk attitude. On the other hand, the EP’s songs are more power pop.

Bogert: We wrote all these songs around the same time, those just happened to be the most complete and we felt they went together really well. So we just threw that out as singles and then worked on the other ones while we were finding a band to perform with.

The Songwriting Process (6:09)

The members of the band constantly search for new ways to write songs. They believe that there is no single method for creating music. Delarosa said that sometimes, he just starts riffing around and writes from there.

Delarosa: Throughout my life, songwriting just comes as a riff or maybe I’ll mess around and like a certain part and you just write from there. For me, lyrics have always been something that I’ve tried to work on because usually, it’s the music first and the lyrics second. So making something that makes sense has been something that I’ve personally been able to do. It’s been easier.

Bogert: You’re very good at attaching lyrics that match the feeling of the song, though. I think that’s the most important thing. It’s how things roll off the tongue more than what you’re saying most of the time. Not that lyrics don’t matter, but I always focus on enunciation and syllables first, rather than what a line means. I think a lot of songwriters work this way where you don’t know the meaning of the song you wrote and it won’t come to you until like three years after you’ve been performing the song and it’s already out. You’ll think, you know when I was going through this particular time in my life, and that’s what that song was about. I couldn’t admit it to myself, but that’s what that song was about.

Experimenting (11:32)

The band finds it crucial to experiment with their musical style due to how it heavily influences the way they play and how they write. Their love for various music, such as Motown and Brian Eno, has led them to explore new territories. They also don’t bother themselves too much with long songs and are always open to suggestions for sweet and short pop songs.

Bogert: I think first and foremost, that’s just kind of inherently who we are as songwriters and musicians. I mean, that’s one thing we bonded over when we met was that we have such an eclectic, yet specific taste in music, I guess.

Delarosa:  It’s just whatever comes to you. You’re gonna be inspired by different things. Like, I don’t think anybody really can just listen to the same band or the same genre.

The various styles they each possess and get inspired by contribute to the constantly changing sounds that they produce.

Bogert: I mean, personally, like I worked in a record store, and there’s a jazz guy there. There’s a classical guy there, there’s a pop guy there. There’s an 80s rock guy, and there’s a 70s rock guy. They all have these eras that they kind of focus on and so they’ll play all these records. So you just hear all these gems that I never would have discovered otherwise. So hearing all that, it’s influential on me, because I hear all these sounds that I like. I’m like, “Oh, I like the way he enunciated that word,” or “I like the way that guitar sounds. I love that guitar tone,” or “The drum sounds sick on this. That’s a sick drum solo!” So you get all these ideas and that’s what I love about art and music. You can never get to all of it. That’s kind of what’s so beautiful about it.

Mirror’s Always Round: A Concept (20:14)

As previously stated, Mirror’s Always Round explores the subjects of paranoia and control. There’s no need to try to force things to work together. The band members stated that the songs on the EP all carried these themes, in one way or another.

Bogert: I think Mirror’s Always Round is a concept EP. All the songs sound different, but I think they all kind of hinted at a similar theme, which is “I’m scared of something,” as we all are, we all have fear. Sometimes that fear stems from maybe inside myself. Maybe I have to look in the mirror and see the circle of patterns that are happening here. Sometimes it is another person’s fault and that’s also explored on the EP. But yeah, I think that’s why that line, the title of the EP, actually stems from the song called “Fear.” So yeah, that’s the concept for that EP: fear or dealing with fear manifests in different ways. That’s why I thought as a concept, that all sounded good, even though all the songs sounded different, if that makes sense.

Recording Sessions (23:40)

One of the most important factors that a band should consider when it comes to creating their music is not forcing two things to work together. Having a good listen to the song after it has been written can help the band realize what works and what doesn’t. For instance, a verse riff might work against a chorus, but it doesn’t need a big one because the song wants to stay as is. It is all about what you hear during the recording sessions, even if it’s not exactly what you want to hear.

Bogert: So sometimes we’ll write a verse and then the next week we’ll write a chorus not knowing if they’ll go together. Then we’ll say, “Oh, maybe this chorus will go against this verse. Let’s see how that sounds.”

Delarosa: I’m my own worst critic, so I think that listening back is hard. It’s probably not a good idea to go back and listen to things that you’ve recorded before because then you’ll hear things that are different things that you’ve released. Like, “Oh, well, I play guitar a little differently now,” or “I sing a little bit differently.”

Bogert: That’s just the natural growth, which is good, but you don’t want to listen back to stuff that’s already been released mostly. Plus, it’s just kind of narcissistic.

The band has had an interesting journey in choosing recording studios that help the quality of the sound that they create. Having the right facility can help them maintain their consistency and keep their songs interesting. Bogert and Delarosa knew this from going to different recording facilities in Austin after recording from home.

Bogert: We recorded “Love and War” and “Leave Me Alone” in our apartment. We lived on slaughter lane, which is an actual road in Austin. I loved the name of that road so much that we just decided when we put out our music, we had to have like what’s called an imprint. So it had like “On what label are you releasing this under?” Well, it’s just us, so let’s name our label Slaughter Lane Records. Slaughter Lane Studios is just our apartment. But it’s nice to record at home because you can do it over again and not have to pay for the session. But where we went to record the EP is Ice Cream Factory Studios, which is an amazing studio in Austin run by Matt Parmenter. He’s the engineer and runs everything and produces. I can just focus on my playing when I’m at an actual studio.

Delarosa: Absolutely. We just go in and someone else can do all that engineering and hard work. We can just focus on what we’re playing, which is really how it should be.

Bogert: It’s fun to go to new studios and get new sounds because you don’t want to sound the same. Because that’s just no fun.

Live vs. Studio Music (29:09)

Regardless of where the band is recording, the energy they put on stage is what sets them apart from the rest. While various techniques can be used to get a certain sound, live performance is more about the energy that the members of the band are putting on stage.

Delarosa: It’s that static in the air that you don’t necessarily get in the studio. I like the energy of playing live and I think that a lot of the songs sound good live. But I also see that in the studio, some songs are better, or you can kind of hear the different dynamics that are happening.

Bogert: Yeah, so definitely on the next recording that we do, I would like to just capture everything at once because usually the way we have done it before is we’ll do the rhythm section and then me and Josh will finish guitars and overdubs and vocals another day. But I think what I’d like to do next is just capture everything live and just perfect it live and not have to worry about too many overdubs, which are like when you go in and play the guitar solo over everything after everything’s been recorded, stuff like that. I’d like to just get everything there and have the whole band vibe, rather than being more experimental with it.

Promoting Their Music (34:49)

One of the main reasons the band prioritizes enhancing the onstage experience over promoting their music is that it is the most effective means of disseminating their content. Nevertheless, as they have gained more popularity, they have realized that they must learn how to properly promote their work. Even if they solely want to focus on playing and writing songs, they must deal with the demands of managing their accounts on social media, booking events, and marketing themselves. Nevertheless, they are committed to doing so.

Bogert: We’re DIY right now. All I can say is if you’d like to manage us, please reach out to our Instagram or email!

Touring (35:57)

Of The Roses has been attempting to tour various cities outside of Austin, where they usually perform in. One of the most anticipated stops on their tour was San Antonio, as both Bogert and Delarosa grew up in this area. They were both very excited to perform in this city, and it was also a great opportunity for their loved ones to see them play for the first time. 

Bogert: I know, a lot of my friends and family are finally like, “Oh, you’re playing a show here. Finally, we can go.” Most of our shows are in Austin. So they’re very excited. I have a lot of friends [in San Antonio] that haven’t gotten to see us play yet.

Touring can be tiring and long, but it also offers some fun. Josh was aware of this due to the other bands he’s worked with, which bonded over these extensive “road trips.”

Delarosa: I’ve toured with other bands before, and yeah, it pretty much is a road trip. It’s nice. I am very excited to tour with Of The Roses. I think that out of anything, you sort of bond over long trips like that because you get to know each other a little bit. A little better. And that’s why it’s always a good idea to find musicians that aren’t only good at what they are playing, but also that you can get along with.

Bogert: Yeah, that’s what’s difficult. There are people you get along with, but maybe they’re not very good, or they’re not as interested in the music that you like. Then you have the people that you don’t get along with but damn, they’re good. Luckily, we haven’t had that issue. The people in our band are very lovely, and also very frickin good at their instruments.

Next Steps for the Band (38:55)

The future of Of The Roses looks promising as the band is constantly working on new songs to play. According to Bogert, they hope to establish a band house where they can practice their craft and create more music.

Bogert: We’re hoping to move into a band house. So like, it’ll be us, and hopefully our drummer. Still, in the works, but that’ll be fun. We’ll have a lot more time to write and hammer some stuff out, you know?

They prioritize honing their craft as it is the best way for them to reach their full potential as musicians. It’s all about preparing for the opportunities that may come their way, as Delarosa puts it.

Delarosa: I think if, if you want to, you know, go to the next level, then that’s kind of what you have to do. So, you know, practicing, like once a week, like that’s not progress. You should be practicing every day. That’s kind of what we want to get to. So that’s next as well.

Please watch the full interview with Of The Roses, available here and on our YouTube Channel.

For information on the band’s tour dates, merch, and more, please visit their official website or Instagram