Interview: Frankie Rose and the Outs

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Bursting onto the Brooklyn scene in 2008 as the drummer for the Vivian Girls, Frankie Rose penned "Where Do You Run To," the biggest hit off the band's self-titled debut, and then promptly split. Next she took turns behind the drum sets for Crystal Stilts and the Dum Dum Girls, never sticking around long enough in either to be considered a full-fledged member. Now it seems as though Rose might have finally settled down in her latest role: calling the shots as the frontwoman of Frankie Rose and the Outs.

With their self-titled debut scheduled for a September 21 Slumberland release, a string of October tour dates and each of their new girl-group--inspired singles attracting buzz, Frankie Rose and the Outs are poised for a takeover. In one of the debut's standout tracks, "Must Be Nice," Rose playfully asks, with the help of her backup singers, "We're so happy to be careless and free, aren't we?" Sure, it's a fun-loving anthem, but in an interview with TONY this week, she gave a hint as to what she might have really meant when she told us, "I'm really happy being the captain of my ship."

Click past the jump for the Q&A.

Time Out New York: So the first question that we're asking all of the bands in our Fall Preview is, do you think albums are still important in an age of digital singles and downloads?
Frankie Rose: I think so, absolutely. What other people think, I'm not sure. I'm not sure how much of the population does care anymore. I think now, most people just hit up iTunes and spend 99 on the single. I feel like an album is an entity—it should be a piece of artwork, including the album art. It's a complete package, and a lot of time and effort should be taken. I feel like you should take as much time with all of it to make the album from beginning to end its own entity, including like the track listing: why this song goes after that song.

Your press release says you were going for a more hi-fi quality with your upcoming album. What led you in that direction?
Yeah, the thing is, there's this idea that I was interested in this whole idea of lo-fi in the first place, but it was more just because I never had money to record in an actual studio. I mean, there are some elements of that that I can appreciate. I like fuzz, I like reverb, but I feel like if I can get the sounds I want and have them not sound like they were recorded in a garbage can, that's more interesting to me. But unfortunately, it takes money to record in a studio.

So how did you take advantage of the studio this time?
Well, this time I actually had a label that was able to help me out with the recording. So I was able to go into the studio and take my time. One of my friends owns the studio, so I was able to spend even more time and have everything miked properly. It was completely different than recording an entire record in, say, eight days or something. I think I spent 21 days on the record, but I could have spent another month. I wish I could have.

What would you have done with more time?
Oh, I don't even know—so many tweaks...

So a lot of technical things?
Yeah, technical things... I don't know. I guess it was good that there was a deadline. It's like a painting—some people could just work on a painting forever, and that's probably like me. When someone says, "It has to be in by this time," I say, "Well, I guess it's done."

So you've spoken about how your goal is to evoke a mood with this album. Where do you imagine it being played?
I feel like it's a surprisingly mellow record, but I'd like to think that it's not tiring to listen to. I'd like to think that you'd be able to put it on in your house and not want to pass out or something. [Laughs] It is pretty moody, so I don't know if it's party jams necessarily...

What drew you toward Arthur Russell's "You Can Make Me Feel Bad"?
Oh, I just love that song. I just think it's a beautiful song, and it really, really meant something to me. I wasn't sure that it was going to be possible to do it. It's really simple, but it's so moody and nuanced. His version of the song is so heartfelt, and I didn't know if I'd be able to capture that. But I thought I would try, and it came out pretty good, actually. I just love that song.

When did you write the other songs on the album? Were you still with a different band?
No, not at all. Most of it I wrote just during this last winter. It was so cold—there was not much else to do, really. Some of it I was writing as we went, too. A couple of them were really last-minute, actually.

Like which ones?
Like "Memo," which is one of my favorites on the record, but it was totally a sketch—I knew I'd have to build it in the studio. So we just played with it, and we did it really last-minute, and I really like how it turned out.

What were you listening to when you wrote the songs?
Man, what was I listening to... Oh my goodness... I was listening to a lot of Deerhunter, actually, which is funny. I really like how some of it was recorded. But I like to keep my influences pretty classic, too. I mean, always the Beach Boys. Over and over again I'll refer to Brian Wilson, like, "What would Brian Wilson do?" Of course, he has natural room sounds to work with, and we certainly don't. But modern stuff—Panda Bear. I really like the way he treats his vocals. But yeah, mostly Brian Wilson. Phil Spector, of course.

With which band have you had the best experiences on the road?
Well, coming home is always the best part, for me. [Laughs] I get really homesick. I'm sort of known for not liking touring, which is the truth. So coming home is always a joyous occasion.

Do you have plans to work with any of your previous bands again?
Yeah, I hope so! My goodness, Crystal Stilts is coming out with a new record and I hear it's amazing, I'm a huge fan. So I hope someday they'll clear their schedule for me to play with them. Dum Dum Girls, that would be amazing. They're on tour with crazy bands right now, so yeah that would be nice.

What about recording plans?
Oh, probably not. I'm really happy being the captain of my ship.

Right, that was the last thing I wanted to ask. How does that feel?
Awesome. [Laughs] I'm so happy. I really am so blessed, and more blessed that people seem to be liking it. And I love my band, they're so great to work with.

Frankie Rose and the Outs play at JellyNYC Rock Yard Saturday, Aug 14.

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