The first two singles from Roseneath—a Richmond, VA duo consisting of Jason R. (also of Breaths) on vocals, guitar, bass, and engineering/production; with Brian G. (formerly of Cosmonaut) on guitar and bass—immediately cemented the project as one of my favorites for 2022, not to mention one of the active bands that I'm most excited about following. Their debut five-song EP, Shine, will be available digitally and on limited edition cassette or disc through Trepanation Recordings in mid-July (pre-order now), and continues to serve up "grungegaze" excellence. Packed with densely distorted rhythmic hooks and lush singing accented by post-hardcore textures, the approach forms a wide-spanning brand of generally designated "alternative rock" that—while obviously influenced by the '90s—is delivered through a crisp and polished sound that boasts a much more modern punch.
Streaming everywhere next Monday, May 16, single #3, "Say Never," offers a slightly slower and more soaring side of the duo's style, utilizing rise-and-fall atmospherics aplenty. Take an early listen now, followed by an interview with the band regarding how things came together, and how things might unfold from here...
I don't really know the story on how Roseneath came together, I'm just aware of scattered details. From what I recall, Brian moved to Richmond and ended up practicing with a potential live lineup of Jason's other band, Breaths, and then I think you both were jamming with some musicians from ExKnives for a bit. How did the two of you connect in the first place, and then eventually land on working as a duo for what became Roseneath?
Brian: Jason and I are both members of the Carytown Yodelers. After one of our rehearsals, during the pancake social, I noticed his Converge Jane Doe tattoo. I said, "You down with Doe?" No, actually, I think I said, "You dig the Doe, bro?" He said he totally did, and the rest is history.
Jason: As vaccines were becoming available and things seemed more promising with the pandemic, I put up an ad on Craigslist here in Richmond looking for band members to take Breaths live. Brian reached out and we talked a bit, but it was a while before we really got together. I also talked to a few of the ExKnives guys, and though I had originally thought about taking Breaths live, I was really into the idea of creating something new that would focus on my clean vocals rather than Breaths' mix of clean singing and screaming. We all met up last summer and decided to jam and see what happened. We went back and forth for a while playing with new ideas and then jamming on Breaths songs. Ultimately, we went down the path of creating something new, so we started demoing and working on new songs. With everyone's busy lives, kids, etc., it just became difficult to get together regularly to practice/record, so Brian and I just decided to take the project in a more studio direction.
Having been a huge fan of Brian's prior band, Cosmonaut, and then digging into the Breaths discography after Roseneath surfaced, it's interesting that—while different from each—Roseneath does tend to represent a fusion of your two styles, or at least aesthetic characteristics from each of those projects. Is that just the obvious result of the two of you working together, or did you set out with some direction in mind to aim for your own take on this type of wide-spanning "alternative rock"?
Jason: I really wanted to go in a more grunge/shoegaze/rock/alternative/whatever direction, rather than the more aggressive/metal direction of Breaths. I think ultimately it's what Brian naturally writes stylistically, mixed with songs that I wrote with the intent being to go in that direction.
Brian: The joke is that I play the pre-chorus to Slaughter's "Up All Night" three different ways and call it a song, but it's kind of true. Not much has changed there. The only difference is now it's Jason telling me the chorus is actually the bridge, and the drummer isn't nearly as much fun.
Every song on the EP achieves its own identity without lacking cohesion, and the track we're premiering, "Say Never," is kind of the "grungegaze" equivalent of a "ballad" or something—a surging, ebb-and-flow love song with lyrics that seem more direct and personal. Share a bit about this song in particular.
Jason: "Say Never" was originally written to end my latest Breaths album, Though life has turned out nothing like I imagined, it is far better than I could have dreamt., but it just didn't fit stylistically. I was listening to a lot of Nothing, Slow Crush, etc.—all the grungy/shoegaze bands I could find—so that song was just a natural result of those influences. I shelved the song and it just made sense when we started working on Roseneath ideas. Honestly, the way Roseneath works is one of us basically brings a fully-formed song to the table. So, typically, you have either a "Brian song" or a "Jason song." We each contribute things to the other's songs (lead parts, whatever), and my vocals tie it all together. "Say Never" is a Jason song, whereas the first two singles were Brian songs.
As for the song's meaning, the latest Breaths album was super personal, mostly dealing with traumatic experiences. This song and another, "The Matriarch," were meant to be the more positive songs. "Say Never" was originally titled "The Kindred," and it's basically a love song to my wife and children.
Since Breaths was at one point flirting with the notion of a live lineup for shows, have you considered the same possibility for Roseneath?
Jason: It's a possibility, but would take a lot of work and other people to make it happen. Brian has some ideas, but only time will tell.
Brian: I would say that if we don't create the demand for some live shows, we have failed. Is failure an option? Come to think of it, is Failure an option? I could definitely pull something together to play some shows with them!
I always get ahead of myself when I'm super excited about a band, so I can't help but ask: what's next? Do you already have new material cookin' up, etc.?
Jason: We're working on a full-length at the moment. We have four songs in some state of recording (drums/guitar/bass, etc.) with another four or five in the demo stage. We'll be building on that more, so hopefully we'll end up with eight to ten (or more) tracks for the finished album.
Available in mid-July, pre-order Shine digitally or on limited edition cassette or disc through Trepanation Recordings. Hear more from Roseneath via Bandcamp or Spotify. You can also find them on Instagram.