A new rose blooms, in Louisiana. Out of the ashes like a phoenix rising, the Blonde Roses are in line for a meteoric rise. The new band formed out of the Wooden Wings takes on new challenges, new sounds, and new feelings as they furiously work on their forthcoming debut EP. If their recently released single “Bullet” is any indication of what’s to come, this newly christened band is sure to blow you away. Singer Molly Portier shared a few minutes with us at Libro Musica, and gave us a little insight into the group.
Libro Musica: What is it like being a musician in New Orleans, with the insane amount of musicians and where the music is so ingrained in the roots of the city. How do you rise above other artists to be seen?
Molly Portier: There’s a lot going on here, and a lot of incredible artists come out of New Orleans, Louisiana in general, so in a sense it is easy to get lost in the mix. But what I think is really cool about the rock community down here is, that it is kind of smaller. It’s very strong and we all help each other out and it’s kind of like a big family. A lot of the music down here lends more to the jazz, brass, and zydeco musicians and rock can actually get overlooked here. I think a lot of people don’t realize there is quite a lot of it. People have this perception of New Orleans being jazz heavy. It can be harder for rock bands to get in and book the venues or to even play on Frenchmen Street, which is one of our biggest music strips. They mainly book jazz musicians and it’s kind of hard to sometimes push through the stereotype of New Orleans and the music scene here.
Libro Musica: Who have been your biggest music influences?
Molly: We pull our inspiration from the 60s and 70s. Joni Mitchell is one for me when it comes to lyrics, she’s incredible and she always has something to say when she writes. I grew up listening to her, she is probably one of my biggest influences on that end. Also Stevie Ray Vaughn and Led Zeppelin, Muddy Magnolias, and Grace Potter who’s an incredible female vocalist. And more recently Gary Clark, Jr. has been a huge inspiration for us as a band.
Libro Musica: What artist would you love to collaborate with?
Molly: I said his name before, and I’ll say it again, Gary Clark Jr. hands down. We are all huge, huge fans of his and especially our guitarist.
Libro Musica: You recently went through some change, you went from the 5 piece band Wooden Wings to the current quartet of Blonde Roses. What led to the change and how has that transition been for you?
Molly: We started Wooden Wings 9 years ago. It started off as an acoustic duet, the boys didn’t join that group until a couple years after it started and it’s something I grew up doing. Outside of it just being a band it was also a huge part of who I am. And I think it was time, it was rough when it happened. We went through a lineup change, the other co- founder of Wooden Wings decided to pursue other interests. I think looking back on it, it was kind of time for us to press the reset button and do something fresh. Because of the change it didn’t feel right to continue on as the Wooden Wings anymore, we felt like that was something we needed to leave in the past and shake things up. We decided collectively to rename the band and move forward and go into a different direction. Things have been incredible recently for us, we only switched over the name a couple of months ago, we released a single, a video, and were picked up by some pretty big press. It’s been really exhilarating for us. It has been some of the most creatively inspired months we had as a band.
Libro Musica: How much of your style carries over from Wooden Wings to Blonde Roses? Is this a chance to break new ground and experiment?
Molly: At its core it still has our roots from the Wooden Wings. We’ve been writing together for so many years it’s kind of hard to completely to change your writing style, but we’ve been going more into the southern-bluesy kind of territory which is something we haven’t ever really done. Our guitarist is influenced by that genre and musicians who play like that. And now he’s been taking a lot of the lead on writing, which is new, we have been collaborating more on our writing. It has a tinge of the Wooden Wings, it would be hard to not to, but it definitely has a totally different vibe.
Libro Musica: How did you come up with the name Blonde Roses?
Molly: *laughing* ah, band names are hard to come up with, that’s for sure. We sat on a long list for a couple of months and played around with different ideas. We originally were going to go by the name, Natural Blonde, which we found out was already a band down here. We really liked the concept of blonde, I am blonde. So, there’s really not a huge story behind that portion. As far as roses, my middle name is Rose, we have a lot of people in our families that actually carry the name Rose as well. So it felt like a nice tribute to our families and the people that we love and support us every single day doing what we do, it was nice to carry that in our name.
Libro Musica: If you had one word or phrase to describe you sound, what would it be?
Molly: I think our stuff is raw and unfiltered, it’s the more honest stuff we’ve ever written. We decided as a band in moving forward if we were writing a song and it ever felt at any point like it was forced or it wasn’t coming naturally that we would completely scrap it and move on. We wanted all of this to feel really genuine.
Libro Musica: Your new single “Bullet” is out, off of your upcoming EP. What was the decision behind making this your 1st release?
Molly: We actually started “Bullet” awhile ago, and we never really did anything with it. We decided that we wanted to go back and hit that reset button. It felt natural for else to start with it, because we were comfortable with it. And it is a song that has a lot of influence from the Wooden Wings, but also has a tinge of where we’re going to go. It felt like a really good transitional song.
Libro Musica: I like how you use the symbolism of the cherry tree in the song. The short cycle of this beautiful flower and how it mimics life. How did you come to incorporate this into the lyrics?
Molly: That is actually how the lyrics started for me. The drummer, who is also is my boyfriend of 7 years, he’s very big into Japanese culture. It seemed like-something that was very beautiful to me, I was at this point in my life where I started to to feel stuck and I kind of lost a spark that I normally have in my creative life. The symbolism of how short life is and how fragile and beautiful it is at the same time, just really stuck with me. It kind of forced me out of this suffocating routine that I was in, and kicked me into high gear to pursue what I loved.
Libro Musica: The video for “Bullet” is very intense and cinematic. Were you involved with the creative process?
Molly: The 1st time we met our director, John Paul Summers, we were at a bar in Lafayette, LA which is where we shot the video. We immediately decided we didn’t want a video where all of us were playing in a field, we wanted something totally different and to push all of us out of our comfort zone. Which led to the idea to play this out as a min-film, we played around with a bunch of ideas and we kept coming back to this concept of a black widow type character who preys on sleazy men. And it”s interesting because the lyrics, when I initially wrote it, had nothing to do with that.
Libro Musica: I was going to ask you about the meaning behind the song, that’s surprising because the lyrics fit very well with the video.
Molly: It does and I think that’s the beauty of music, you can write something that means something to you and it can be totally different to somebody else. The director saw the lyrics as this dark, cynical tone and I was wowed. I never really thought that way, and it was interesting and really wanted to follow that. Beyond that, we left the entire story and plot in his hands. The crew was incredible, we trusted them with the project and we were super, super happy with how it came out.
Libro Musica: What’s on the horizon for Blonde Roses?
Molly: We are finishing up our EP in the next few months, and will be releasing that in early 2017. Our main focus is on that right now, to make it the best that it can be. And beyond that we’re hoping to book a tour to support it and get on the road and meet all of our fans and make new ones. We haven’t been on the road for a couple of years and we’re excited to get back at it.
The Blonde Roses are:
Molly Portier – Vocals/Guitar
Albert Moliere – Bass
Harry Rosenberg – Guitar
Anthony Mikhael – Drums
Stay tuned for what’s in store for the Roses, follow them on Facebook and watch for that EP to drop next year. In the meantime, download “Bullet” from blonderoses.bandcamp.com.