Cause & Effect - “Inside Out” from Trip
ROB ROWE - THE M4TS INTERVIEW
EPILOGUE - FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
Toward the end of our conversation, Rob Rowe managed to flip the script, and somehow we wound up with a short interview of me. Don’t expect any Whitewaits or Cause & Effect content below, but if you want to know a little more about the guy behind the keyboard over here, read on!
Alright, I think that’s really about everything that I’ve got. Is there anything you can think of that you wanted to talk about that I didn’t mention?
Ahh, not that I can think of. I’m really out of practice with all this stuff, talking about things. What kind of law do you practice?
It’s corporate stuff, I oversee a document review team. It’s discovery work, if you know anything about how the legal process works.
I know some. My brother-in-law is a corporate lawyer.
Let me give you the short version. Say two big companies sue each other, or the federal government is investigating a company or something. There’s a process called “discovery,” where both sides have to turn over all their paperwork related to whatever the matter is in question. And when you’re talking large companies, that can be literally millions upon millions of emails, spreadsheets, marketing documents. Everything you can think of. Right now, the project I’ve been on the last two years, is I’m working for an insurance company that’s suing a bank. I’ve spent two years overseeing a team of ten-ish people who are going through everything we had to turn over, to figure out what we needed to turn over and what was privileged or whatever else, and then looking through everything that’s been turned over to our side to figure out what’s important.
Oh I see. Wow.
So that’s what I do during the day.
Like needles-in-haystacks kind of stuff.
Yeah, it really is. But those needles are what cases get built out of, and what billions of dollars swing on, somehow.
Right, right. How long have you been in New York?
Whitewaits - “Lost Boys” from An Elegant Exit
ROB ROWE - THE M4TS INTERVIEW
In his 25-year career fronting Cause & Effect and Whitewaits, Rob Rowe has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows that the music industry — and life itself — have to offer. From multiple Hot 100-charting singles to the tragic death of C&E co-founder Sean Rowley, from being unceremoniously dropped to touring the world independently, Rowe has weathered it all with a warm croon and a singular vision. In the final part of our interview, we look to the future of Whitewaits and Cause & Effect — touring, recording, and surviving in an artist-unfriendly age.
OK. So let’s talk about where Whitewaits is going now. Actually, let me jump back a little bit. You used Kickstarter to fund the album. And you’re selling it on Bandcamp. So clearly you’ve embraced the new way of doing things, the new technology that’s out there. How do you feel about those platforms? Do you feel like things are finally at a place where there’s something sustainable, or do you feel that there’s still a ways to go?
Sustainable from what, from what perspective?
Is it possible for musicians to create and sustain a career using these tools and operating on their own rather than working within the bigger system.
I wish I had that answer. I know… I’m not making a living at this. It breaks even. Which is great, I’m not spending money or losing money. You know, I haven’t figured out how to make a living at this. Which is fine — I have a design business, and I’m freelance, and I get to stay at home and work when I work and work on music when I want to work on music. So that’s fine. Was it Frank Zappa who said that if you want to be a musician… It was basically something like… I’m trying to remember the quote. I’m not even a Frank Zappa fan, but it’s something like “the way to be a musician is: decide to write a song; at some point, decide to stop writing that song; and then get a part time job so you can keep writing songs.”
[Laughs] If it wasn’t Zappa it should have been!
It’s something close to that. It took me a long time, but I think I’ve finally got to that point.
I was going to say, presumably when you were signed to the label, Cause & Effect was your full-time thing, right?
Was it a rocky transition for you?
Whitewaits - “Blackbird Spies” from An Elegant Exit
ROB ROWE - THE M4TS INTERVIEW
In his 25-year career fronting Cause & Effect and Whitewaits, Rob Rowe has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows that the music industry — and life itself — have to offer. From multiple Hot 100-charting singles to the tragic death of C&E co-founder Sean Rowley, from being unceremoniously dropped to touring the world independently, Rowe has weathered it all with a warm croon and a singular vision. In Part 2 of our interview, we dive in deep on An Elegant Exit, the debut full-length from Whitewaits. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of our interview.
Ok, let me get back to Whitewaits. In listening through An Elegant Exit, it’s a bit of a sonic departure from Cause & Effect’s older stuff, but not really a huge one. I can listen to songs like “Island” or “Down” or “Lost Boys,” and I don’t think… like, especially Innermost Station, I think a lot of them fit into a similar groove as that album. And I know you’ve never really been afraid to pivot Cause & Effect in one direction or another, following wherever your muse seems to be leading you. So why the decision to do this as Whitewaits and not make this another Cause & Effect album, or put it under the Cause & Effect name somehow?
Basically, because as I’ve gotten older, one of the things I’ve noticed is I’m less patient. And Cause & Effect records take a long time to finish. And so, rather than wait for Artificial Construct Part 3 to be done, I decided I wanted to release more music and try to do as much as I can in the next two to three years. Just to see what it’s like to put more than one record out every four years.
Ok, I guess that leads me to another question. With Cause & Effect, I guess I always kind of envisioned it as your band, with you being the songwriter. It seems like maybe Keith [Milo, keyboards] is more involved than I had realized in all of that. How do you conceive of that band, and what parts do each of you play?
Even though I’m the original founding member, Cause & Effect has been very much 50/50 since Rich [Shepherd, drums] left after Innermost Station. Keith and I had a discussion after that, when we were talking about doing the Sunrise EP, and he really wanted to take over the role of producer. Innermost Station kind of got away from us. It was our first record that we did by ourselves. We recorded it all at Keith’s house, and the technology, although it was good, wasn’t like nowadays. And we just… there are a lot of technical things on that record that we all cringe at now. It just kind of got away from us. In a lot of ways I blame myself, because it’s just my personality, if anything fails, it’s my fault. So I happily stepped back and said “well I’ll keep doing the writing, but you just take the songs and do whatever you want with them.” And that’s how we’ve worked ever since. It works well, it works well. But at the same time…
It’s a slow process.
It’s a slow process. Keith is so talented, but he’s also a perfectionist through and through. The production is much more refined so the process takes a lot longer. I’m more of a “just throw everything against the wall, see what sticks,” and then kind of peel things away, strip it back down.
So with Whitewaits, were you really interested in doing production and producing it yourself, being on that side of things as well? Or was it more just, if you produce it yourself, you can get those ideas done and out as soon as possible?
Cause & Effect - “It’s Over Now” from Trip
ROB ROWE - THE M4TS INTERVIEW
In his 25-year career fronting Cause & Effect and Whitewaits, Rob Rowe has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows that the music industry — and life itself — have to offer. From multiple Hot 100-charting singles to the tragic death of C&E co-founder Sean Rowley, from being unceremoniously dropped to touring the world independently, Rowe has weathered it all with a warm croon and a singular vision. In Part 1 of our interview, we discuss the pitfalls of going fully independent in the ‘90s, the fracturing of popular taste and the return to fashion of that long-maligned genre, synthpop. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of our conversation.
M4TS: I guess first off, how are you? How are things in your world?
Rob Rowe: Things are pretty good. I’m just sitting in my studio today, messing around, and looking out at a very cliche Seattle. It’s raining, of course.
It’s got to be better than the snow we’re having here yet again…
You’re in New York, right?
Yeah, and it seems like it’s never going to stop. I feel like I moved to Alaska and nobody told me. At least there’s a bit more to do than in Alaska. Alright, so let me start with, you had mentioned to me when we were corresponding a little bit, that you had to back away from the promotion of Whitewaits right after it came out, and that you’re just getting back into gear now. Is that something you can talk about, what happened there?
Yeah, I can. I’m originally from England. My parents are retired, and my dad’s health is not that great, so they decided to move back to England, where my mom still has a huge family. I spent a couple months helping them organize and then went down to California and got them moved over there, and went over there for a couple weeks and got them settled and stuff like that. I was happy to help but it was emotionally all-consuming.
I can imagine.
So I had to put work and the promotion and all that kind of stuff on hold.
Sometimes life gets in the way.
It sure does.
Was it hard to let go of Whitewaits at that crucial moment?
so as I alluded to earlier, I wrote a feature on Being As An Ocean for Alternative Press Magazine. You can pick up issue 311 / June 2014 starting tomorrow; if you’re a subscriber, you might already have your copy. I hope you read it — I had a lot of fun, and put a lot of work into, writing it.
(also, it’s a real kick seeing my name alongside Evan Lucy and Bob Ham, two writers whose work I greatly admire)
POZ Interview: No Somos Marineros
PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman sat down with No Somos Marineros at SXSW a month ago. We chatted with the band about SXSW, new recordings, their relationship with Topshelf, growing as a band, and more. Check out the interview below!
POZ: Just to start, can I get your names and what you do in the band?
CGS: I’m Carlos [González Soto], I play guitar and [I sing].
AP: I’m Andrés [Pérez], and I play drums.
OR: I’m Oscar [Rubio], and I play guitar.
GF: Gustavo [Farfán], bass.
POZ: So let me start this off by saying, I actually saw you guys last year at SXSW, at the Pearl St. Co-op, when you played over there. And I was really blown away — I thought you were fantastic. I went online to find more info and the one thing I discovered is that — probably because you’re Mexican — everything out there is in Spanish, and there is very little in English about you guys. So to start out I just want to ask the basics. How did you get together? Where are you from? How did you start playing your music?
I haven’t been posting my interviews from SXSW here — you can find links to all of them on the clips page, almost all of the interviews I did are online now — but I’m particularly excited that this one is running. No Somos Marineros are an awesome emo/post-hardcore group from Mexico City, and we had a really wonderful conversation about the state of the scene down there: small, but growing, and exceedingly vibrant.
NSM, along with their photo/video/creative collective Light & Noise, are a big part of making that happen, and of getting the word out about the goings-on in the Mexican/Spanish language underground. Language barriers can be tough to surmount, especially when it’s cost-prohibitive for a lot of these acts to tour the US, but there’s a lot going on down there that I think kids here would be into. I’m hardly an expert, but NSM have been great tour guides. I’ve included links to pretty much everyone they name-check, so click through and you can hear for yourself why I find this all so exciting.
POZ Interview: TEAM
TEAM is Caleb Turman of Forever The Sickest Kids' new band with a rotating cast of other musicians you know and love. We've been hearing about the supergroup for a while now, so PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman decided to sit down with Turman from the band and Will Pugh from Cartel, who has been involved in writing and producing the new EP, for a new interview at South By South West this past month.
We spoke with Caleb about the birth of the band, finally a date for a new release, a hiatus time for Forever The Sickest Kids, and more. Will also spoke up about taking the year off for Cartel, a ten year Chroma tour, and future plans. Read up on everything below!
Can I get your name and what you do in the band?
CT: I’m Caleb Turman, I play guitar and sing.
WP: I’m Will Pugh, I guess I produce and play guitar.
The first of my SXSW interviews is up. There will be something like 14 more of these coming in short order - keep your eye on the Clips page and I’ll keep it updated.
POZ SXSW Blog: A Wrap Up, From Us
Our team is still recovering from South By South West, but we thought it would be great to do a wrap up blog from Jesse Richman, Erik van Rheenen, Ali Killian, and Ashley Aron. We had a great time this year in Austin, and we can’t wait for next year. Check out the wrap up blogs below!
POZ SXSW Coverage
From Jesse Richman:There’s a debate raging in the blogosphere this week as to whether SXSW has gotten “too big.” It’s actually been a topic of discussion since many years before I made my first trek to Austin. Some people feel that the event should stay small, focus strictly on independent music, and be about discovery. Others believe it should be big, showcasing all that the world of music has to offer, from baby bands to superstars, a celebration of all the things we love and the way that, whether it sounds like rap or country or emo or pop, whether it comes from a major or an indie or a kid in his garage, it all shares a common heart.
Welp, I’m back from SXSW. (Actually, I’ve been back for a few days, but I guess maybe today is the day I’m mentally back?) I didn’t really have time to keep my socials updated this year, so below are links to all of my content. There will be one more playlist, of new SXSW finds, running presumably this weekend, and then eventually all of the fifteen interviews I conducted down in Austin will run as well. As always, if you keep your eye on the Clips Page, I’ll keep it current with whatever’s new, and I’m sure I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking about it as well.
SXSW Must-See Showcases (3/10/14)
SXSW Survival Guide (3/11/14)
SXSW: Calm Before The Storm Playlist (3/12/14)
SXSW Day 2 Recap (3/12/14)
SXSW Day 3 Recap (3/13/14)
SXSW Day 4 Recap (3/14/14)
SXSW Day 5 Recap (3/15/14)
SXSW Day 6 Recap (3/16/14)
SXSW Wrap-Up (3/20/14)
EDIT: Here’s that post-SXSW Playlist (3/25/14)