On paper, it’s hard not to compare Of The Roses to the White Stripes. Both bands love experimenting with different musical styles and have romantically involved dual singers — well, at least Meg and Jack White started that way. These bands also have one other crucial factor in common: they produce damn good music.
“While the White Stripes are amazing in their own right, and we would like to be as unique as them in our own type of way, we don’t aim to copy what they’ve done,” begins Serenity Autumn, singer-songwriter and musician for Of The Roses. “I can see how our dynamic — musicians who also happen to be a couple — can draw that comparison, but I hope when you listen to us, you hear Serenity Autumn and Josh Delarosa.”
Autumn’s hope is affirmed. Of The Roses doesn’t sound like the White Stripes at all; in fact, depending on which member is singing, the two-piece band is more likely to remind you of indie favorites, such as The Strokes and the Japandroids, or punk legends, such as the Misfits and Gorilla Biscuits. They’ve got this innate ability of bringing together different genres in a way that’s pleasing and undeniably them — or, as Autumn describes it, a beautiful, musical whiplash.
“With previous projects, we were limited to whatever genre that band wanted to be. With our project, we can make it whatever we want,” she says. “All my favorite artists are not necessarily consistent across the board, but they’re consistently great: David Bowie, David Byrne/Talking Heads, Pixies, St. Vincent, just to name a few. We want people to know right off the bat that we enjoy mixing it up. With every release, we want to do something different and be better.”
For more than 12 years, her bandmate Delarosa’s been a prominent figure in the south Texas music scene. He’s an accomplished songwriter who’s also toured with big-name artists, such as Soul Asylum, and buzzed-about up-and-comers, such as Wayne Holtz. Like her partner in music and love, Autumn’s a wildly talented singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Additionally, from studying at San Antonio College and Austin Community College as well as working at Waterloo Records & Video, she brings a wealth of music knowledge and audio engineering experience to the table. Together, they’re creating music that Autumn says is “exciting” and “really us.”
“This is the first project in which I’m focusing on songs that I can really call mine,” Delarosa adds. “Serenity is a talented producer and helps me create what I’m hearing in my head. I’ve never worked with anyone who has been able to do that so accurately before.” It helps that both Of The Roses members are talented, of course, but he says the band works so well because of the deep connection that he and Autumn share. After meeting in 2019 while performing in a cabaret band for a small theater production, Delarosa and Autumn knew they wanted to make music together and began dating shortly thereafter.
“In order to have a songwriting partner, there needs to be a connection, whether that’s romantic, friendly or another kind of bond. We share all those connections,” he says. “When we collaborate and compromise, it’s just like any other aspect of our relationship; we talk things out and decide what’s best and, in this case, what’s best for the song and the performance. And actually, we’re both very competitive, so we try to one-up each other and make each other better.”
Of The Roses are already producing intense and inspiring music, so that competitiveness and collaboration are clearly a winning combination. Their debut singles “Love & War” and “Leave Me Alone,” which dropped on Friday, October 14, are each impressive and, frankly, treats for anyone who’s been listening to the same old tunes throughout COVID-19 lockdown.
Sung by Delarosa, “Leave Me Alone” is a cathartic, straight-to-the-point, pop-punk track. It’s catchy, exciting and somehow feels both very 1980s and today. If you’re a fan of John Hughes’ coming-of-age films and Catfish and the Bottlemen’s finding-yourself tracks, Delarosa’s offerings will definitely tickle your fancy. On the flip side, the Autumn-sung track “Love & War” is a longer, more musically charged in-your-face track. It’s got funky guitar, on-the-money snare drums and passionate yelling/singing about lust. It’s also punk as hell. “Fuck me right,” she commands, while going on to assert that if she can be easily replaced, so can her disloyal lover. Both songs command your attention and are wildly impressive, especially for a newly formed duo. But, really, would you expect anything less from this talented super couple?
Not only are Delarosa and Autumn great music-makers, but they also know when and whom to bring into the fold so their final products are superb. They produce all of their music themselves, Autumn explains, but they invite other creatives into the studio so they can make smart adjustments and calibrate their sound. “Sometimes in the studio, it’s easier to have someone just doing the engineering so Josh and I can focus on guitar playing and singing. We had Matt Omelanczuk, a former student whom I met in one of my audio engineering classes last semester, engineer the drum recordings on both singles,” she begins. “Additionally, when it comes to mixing, we like to have a third pair of ears listen in and, in this case, we were lucky to have had Katie Alice Greer of Sister Polygon Records and Priests help us out.”
With “Love & War” and “Leave Me Alone,” Of The Roses are entering the music scene in a fierce and ferocious way. Both band members admit that the global pandemic has made launching this project more difficult, but that they’ve been more than up to the task. “It’s been challenging, but we love a challenge,” Autumn says. “The biggest thing that we miss is playing shows and having fun — that’s the whole reason we make music.”
In the next couple of months, Of The Roses will be launching an acoustic performance video inspired by the format of NPR’s Tiny Desk series, so stay tuned for that. They’re also on the hunt for Austin-based supporting musicians who can help them bring their music alive on stages — once it’s safe to have live shows, of course. In the meantime, head over to Of The Roses’ YouTube channel or SoundCloud page to feast your ears on their two impressive debut singles.
Featured Image: Courtesy Of The Roses, captured by @JojoDancerPhotos<[wordads]