Meghan Rose and I Saw The Creature on the cover of Max Ink September 2014
One woman. Five regular music projects.
Meghan Rose may be one of the busiest artists on the Madison scene right now, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Meghan writes, sings, plays, records, edits, and teaches all styles of music; and those talents are highlighted in her various bands. I had the chance to ask her how she keeps it all going, and learned which group is getting ready to hit the road soon.
Maximum Ink: Do you remember when you started your musical journey?
Meghan Rose: My mom taught me piano when I was 4, and then I started classical lessons when I was 5. First thing I remember learning to play was “Beauty and the Beast”, of all things. My dad bought me a nylon string classical guitar from an antique shop when I was 14 and I taught myself some chords then learned the church songs for bible day camp, which was one of my summer jobs. I played piano for the early church service for years. I still love hymns and I use some of the ideas to write about God in my lyrics, though I certainly don’t write what anyone would call Christian music. But once that type of music is in you, you can’t shake it. My mom also had tapes of musicals, and Broadway is still an obsession for me. I was 8 when my parents divorced, and one of the coping methods I developed was to steal my dad’s C.D.‘s. He collected the newest “alternative” music—a lot of female-fronted 90’s stuff. Bjork, Sheryl Crow, Sleater-Kinney, Liz Phair, Fiona Apple. Fiona and Liz were really powerful to me.
MI: Your current projects are all led by women; some bands don’t like the reference to women or men in the band, but would rather just be called musicians, in a general sense. What about you?
MR: I’ve been doing a lot of research to get ready to go on tour with one of my projects and something like 1 in 15 bands has a girl in it. Right now, Madison seems to be really supportive for women on the music scene. There are so many female-fronted, or all-women bands and I think it says a lot for this area. Plus, being involved with Girls and Ladies Rock Camps, you get to start working early with some of those you hope will be the next line-ups. I love it!
MI: How do you find time to maintain, and push forward, all of your projects?
MR: I recently quit my full-time job at Epic to concentrate on my bands, my solo-project, and writing music for theater. All my paychecks went to instruments and recording equipment! My first purchase was my red Epiphone semi-hollow body electric I still play. Then came a mandolin, a dulcimer, accordions, a real piano, a Gibson acoustic, a trombone (not that I can play it), a cello (not that I can play it, either; I just use it to make scary noises for film scores), a DVD on how to play bones, and even a tambourine signed by Kenny Rogers!
MI: Cool! And the job supported your music habit…
MR: Yes, but I traveled so much for work, it left little time to really give this music thing a try. So it’s now music 24-7. I’m in three band projects: Little Red Wolf (which is alt-country; lots of harmonies), Damsel Trash (thrash/punk), and I Saw the Creature (classic rock edge, soaring vox). I’m also working on a solo album which will feature the music I don’t have room for anywhere else. I’ve convinced myself each one fulfills a different personality. And since I left my job, I’ve already put out albums with two of my bands; working with Brian Liston through Clutch Sound Studio to make it happen. Now, I also have the time needed to get organized and start treating this like a business.
MI: Treating this like a business must mean heading out on the road. Which project is going first?
MR: I Saw the Creature is starting its first tour this fall. I play bass in this group, and my band-mates include singer Hannah Ripp-Dieter, her brother and guitar player Jake Ripp-Dieter, and drummer Andrew Schroeder. We have the most traction and are probably the most able to be mobile right now. As part of this music-as-a-business idea, I’m doing all of our own booking from Wisconsin to Texas. It means a lot of research into finding the appropriate venues, bands to add on the bill, promotions, and merchandise. We’ll be starting the tour and new CD release at Funk’s Pub in Madison on October 10, then we’re off! And we can’t wait.
MI: Probably a good thing you aren’t working a regular job?
MR: I wouldn’t have time for it! The other interesting thing I’m seeing happen, is the relationships and friendships I’m developing because I’m able to get out to a lot more shows than I did before. I’m just finding this so valuable, especially knowing there are many of us here trying to make music. It’s a supportive scene here.
MI: So the Madison scene is alive and well?
MR: It’s better than that. While doing my research of other cities I was thinking I’d find far more organized, supportive scenes, and I can tell you there just aren’t. We’re all sort of at the same ground level. If you are in a band, and you want a show; you have to go out and do the work to make it happen. But here, there’s a little more personal nurturing of relationships between bands, music enthusiasts, and friends. And maybe it’s a fairly new effort that’s growing here. No matter what, it just feels really good to be a part of it.
More on Meghan’s various projects, and upcoming shows, via these links:
I Saw the Creature: http://www.isawthecreature.com/
New CD Release of “You Are Singer” and Tour Kickoff at Funk’s Pub, October 10 with Gabe Burdulis, Modern Mod, and Retro Bus
Damsel Trash: http://damseltrash.bandcamp.com
September 6 at Crystal Corner with Red Tape Diaries and German Art Students
September 12 as part of “Bubble Fest” at The Wisco
Little Red Wolf: http://littleredwolf.bandcamp.com/
September 11 as part of “Bubble Fest” at The Frequency