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Frankie Rose on leaving bands and leading her own

frankie roseGet used to seeing Frankie Rose out front, not behind a drum kit. (Photo via New York Rockmarket)

By David Malitz

Frankie Rose used to be the drummer of your favorite indie-pop band. Well, there's a good chance, at least. She originally banged the skins for Vivian Girls, moved onto Crystal Stilts and most recently played with Dum Dum Girls. As each band gained buzz, Rose departed each one. "I get famous for leaving bands," she says matter-of-factly. She has her reasons, though. Rose is taking the lead with her own band (the Outs) and their debut LP will be out this fall on iconic indie-pop label Slumberland Records.

We chatted in March at SXSW after one of her performances with the Outs at the Slumberland showcase. Live performances are still somewhat rare at this point - one of the first was in November at Slumberland's 20th anniversary show at the Black Cat- but expect more once the album is released. The next one is Saturday in Brooklyn opening for reunited '80s Brit-rockers the Primitives.

So what made you decide to go out on your own?

I don't have a choice anymore. I like writing songs. I like playing drums for songs that I write. But it's now come to a point where I have to step it up and do something different and try to challenge myself. Being in the front and trying to be a frontwoman is completely terrifying. It's incredibly terrifying for me. I'm so comfortable behind the drums, being in the background. It's been kind of an interesting process of suddenly having to interact with the audience. Like, these are my songs! I'm going to play some crappy guitar for you! I'm still learning. I can write a song but I'm not virtuoso.

Do you feel extra pressure being female and fronting a band?

Well, my band - we're all women. We're kind of old. 30s!


That's a little old! But it's better than your 20s. I think - I don't know. Things become more clear to me. But I feel like my band in particular, we really want to be able to play our instruments well. And even if it's a slow process of me really getting to know how to feel being in front, we want to be good. We don't want to be, you know - "a cute, shambolic nightmare. But we're cute girls!" We're not. We're women. We're not old! We're thirty. It's the new 20! I feel like we're just learning how to play live at this point.

(On being called the center of the scene and leaving yet another band, after the jump.)

I read in this little paper called the New York Times that the whole indie-pop scene revolves around you.

That was such a weird article, I gotta say! They compared me, my band, to Dum Dum Girls. Said it's the same kind of music. In actuality it's completely different. And to compare the two is kind of ridiculous. It's kind of, like, because we're all girls you're going to compare us? And that's ultimately the most sexist - and this is what people talk about when they say, oh what's it like to be a girl in a band?

For example, let's think of a ridiculous bill here. Let's say ... Tom Petty and the Cure were playing on the same bill together, you wouldn't compare them just because they're all male. "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were much more well dressed than the Cure."

Well that would probably just be false.

(Laughs.) Right, probably the opposite! I don't know, I always think Tom Petty looks great! I didn't find that to be a very smart article to be honest. But I'm still flattered. My mom was happy.

So how are you going to allot your time these days?

This is where it's getting really tricky. This is the sad truth. I might have to leave Dum Dum Girls, at least for a minute. And I don't want to because they are really like my best friends but it's impossible. My LP is going to come out and I have to pick my own music or someone else's. My motivations are not - I'm trying to go big time. If that makes any sense. I just want to play my own music. Regardless of where it goes, or whether anyone likes it. But it's sad. Endings are so sad. I get famous for leaving bands.

Is that weird? This will be the third time.

I know! I'm getting quite the reputation. It's good. I like a scandal. I'm going to try to punch someone in the face soon. That'll be a real scandal.

Not to talk about myself - although it is my favorite thing to do - but if you want to create some scandal, last year I did this interview - do you know this band Psychedelic Horse[expletive]?

Totally - oh my god, that was you?! The scandalous talking [expletive] article! I remember that - it was kind of the talk of town for a little while! That was pretty awesome. And you know what? I appreciated that. I really did. Because, [expletive], someone's gotta tell the truth, man. There's a ton of bullshit. I feel like people have iPod shuffle brain now. Where you're in a cool band for one second then people don't have the attention span to stay with that same band for another album. It's just in and out now. And that's why you have to take it with a grain of salt at this point.

It's a machine. It really is a machine. It's a nasty machine. I just want to have fun and play music with my friends. And if we get to go to cool places and meet cool people and not be stressed out ... a lot of times on tour I felt like a slave. I felt like everyone around us, the entire time, was making money. Every band I was in that had a little hype. I felt like the tour manager was making money, the booker made money, the driver made money. I came home and I had no job, I barely made any money on the tour. I'm just not interested. I'm going to take it for what it's worth. I see how quickly things move. I feel grateful for what I've been given.

"Thee Only One" - Frankie Rose and the Outs

By David Malitz  |  May 3, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Interview  | Tags: Frankie Rose  
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