The acclaimed indie artist went to school with "Glee" star Matthew Morrison.
Pop and indie rock are co-mingling more than ever in 2013, and Frankie Rose proves that, if it seems the indie rock world has a problem with mainstream pop music, that's a common misconception.
On Sept. 24, the Brooklyn native will release "Herein Wild," her third album and another an ethereal collection of indie-pop songs, on Fat Possum Records. The full-length, which arrives 19 months after her last solo effort, often sounds like a spiritual soundtrack to the waning days of summer or the first early sunsets of fall.
"It's about dreams, and death, and being a human being on the planet," Rose tells Billboard while hurrying around New York, trying to pull together a backing choir for her Sept. 23 record release show at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom. "The lyrics are pretty sorrowful."
Yet throughout “Herein Wild,” Rose’s glistening pop doesn’t sound overly melancholy. The music is moody enough to lyrically recognize life’s struggles and the passage of time, but beautiful enough to evoke vast bodies of water and clouds meandering by (as in the record’s cover). And for that pop appeal, Rose's voice sounds gleeful no matter what she's singing about, and can wrap itself around a great melody, as heard on the album’s first single, “Sorrow”:
With stints with bands like the Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, Rose possesses a predominantly punk/indie fanbase, though the roots of her stagecraft lie in a very different place – musical theatre. The singer/songwriter attended Los Angeles’ Orange County High School of the Arts, where she played the lead role in “Annie” no less than four times, and her classmates included “Glee’s” Matthew Morrison and actress Taryn Manning.
“I kind of got kicked out of the arts program I was in,” Rose remembers. “I just didn't like it. I thought it was corny. As I got older, I didn't want to do musical theater.” Soon after, she found that punk rock was what truly empowered her as a performer. “It all changed. I was like, ooh, I can play the drums! I can play guitar! If there had been a rock camp for girls, or a rock camp at all, I probably would have begged my mother to put me in.”
Rose first entered the indie sphere as a drummer in the late 2000s. As a member of Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls, Roses anchored all three groups' developmental stages and wrote what is arguably the latter group's most enduring song, “Where Do You Run To.” In 2010, she first ventured off on her own by forming a backing band called the Outs, and recording a girl group-influenced debut album, "Frankie Rose and the Outs." Rather than tie herself to the retro 1960s trope, however, Rose shifted gears for her next album, a true solo effort called “Interstellar.” There, she first zeroed in on her current sound of glistening, mystical pop, and "Interstellar" has sold 10,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
She may have chosen a wildly different path than her musical theater classmates, but Rose's ear for hooks has come in handy just the same. Catch Rose on the road later this year, with more tour dates expected to follow her Sept. 23 Bowery Ballroom show.