Rule 62 Revisited
Prolific Whitney Rose doesn't take things too damned seriously
Originally from Prince Edward Island in Canada, singer-songwriter Whitney Rose has been releasing delightfully diverse country-tinged Americana since 2012. Now happily settled into the creative enclave of Austin, the strikingly attractive artist has been enjoying a particularly productive year.
Last month, Rule 62, her latest album was released, quickly following an EP issued this past January. While she's currently readying material for yet another collection of songs, the soft-spoken Rose is also crisscrossing North America on a tour that brings her back to town for a show at Eddie's Attic.
Speaking by phone from a day off in Cleveland, the prolific performer spoke with INsite about the album and its inspirational title.
Your latest record is new to us but you must be tired of it by now.
It's always exciting to get new music out there and a relief too, because we did it back in January. So it's good to finally have it out but I'm already thinking about the next album.
What's the backstory on how this record came be called Rule 62?
It's a saying from AA, actually. I had no idea about it before we were in the studio. A member of our production team is a recovered addict and sometimes on lunchbreaks he would go sponsor someone at a meeting. He came back one day and he had a pin on and it said Rule 62. For whatever reason, it caught my eye and I asked him about it. He told me the story of what it is and how it came to be. It really resonated with me because it basically means, 'Don't take yourself too damned seriously.' When I was writing the material for this album, that is what I'd wanted to portray anyway. I'd wanted to approach shitty situations but put a bit of a comedic twist to them. It's like, 'Yeah this happened and it's bad but it didn't ruin me and now it's actually not all that bad, really.' As soon as he told me about it, I said that's the name of this album! I don't know if he thought I was actually gonna do it until he saw early drafts of the artwork. I think he was pleased with it.
That's a great attitude to have for enduring the problems of everyday life.
Yeah, absolutely. Pretty much every song on it reflects that, too. It's so important and so often ignored. I know so many artists who take things way too seriously. Man, you're gonna kill yourself; why don't you just relax a little?
There's a distinctly defiant tone to the album as well.
Yeah, looking back at it, I was thinking there's a lot of not really sad, but sort of mad songs on there. I think we have to stand up for the betterment of ourselves and the country and the world.
Lately everything seems to hinge on what's happening in America.
Yeah, I've had the pleasure to tour the world and it's funny how obsessed, particularly in Europe, people are with America and the culture. It's so important what happens here.
You recorded "Can't Stop Shakin'" on a pretty important -and controversial- moment in the USA, Inauguration Day.
Yeah, it was crazy because there were so many different energies happening around the studio that day. Some people were really mad and some were deflated and kept to themselves a lot. It was very much like a day of mourning.
But the result is a strong and defiant anthem, which has turned out to be my favorite track on the record.
It wasn't even supposed to be on the album! I had no intentions of ever recording it. It wasn't even a song at first. It was basically just something I used to sing to myself when I felt anxious about going on stage. Sometimes - not all the time â€“ but sometimes I get pre-show jitters and I physically tremble. So to kind of calm myself down and talk myself out of it, for I guess a couple of years now, I'd sing that line over and over to myself and dance around the dressing room like an idiot until I calmed down. I was telling [album producer] Raul Malo about that one day. He said, 'Man that's a song! You need to write the whole song.' I was like, 'Ok, give me a couple of days.' He said, 'No, you have 20 minutes!'
Talk about pressure!
Yeah! But it wasn't that hard, actually. I put myself in a corner and made a list of things that made me feel anxious and that's how it came to be. It was really fun to record because everyone got to sort of let loose a little bit. There's only one note in the whole song so it was kind of fun to sort of masturbate all over.
And it definitely had a happy ending! It's rare for a social commentary song to be based on a panic attack, but whatever works, right?
Yeah, usually I don't really like my anxieties but I'm glad that tune came out of it. I think that's what art is all about.
You mentioned working with Raul of the Mavericks. It's gotta be a blast working with those guys. Every time I've ever been around them we have fun - maybe too much fun.
Exactly. Yeah always too much fun! I absolutely love working with them. I'm actually meeting up with them soon, up in Canada for six shows.
Right, just before the southern U.S. leg of the tour. How does it feel to return to Canada with a great new record and all this whirl of interest and attention?
I always love going home, but I don't like the cold. That's a reason why I left, but I'm really lookimg forward to going back and kind of showing off what I've been up to for the past couple of years. It's nice to go back and feel a little more appreciated than I used to feel when I played there all the time.
You've settled in Austin, which is one of the most arts-appreciative cities in the USA.
It's one of the best cities in the world! Pretty much as soon as I moved there, I was welcomed into the musical community. Not only by musicians by music lovers. I play the Continental Club every Thursday when I'm home and I have people who don't miss a show. They've made me feel at home pretty quickly. I've only been there a couple of years now but it very much feels like home.
It's so different than Nashville which can feel so jaded.
Absolutely. I think Austin abides by Rule 62 maybe more than Nashville does. Though I do love it there, too - but in terms of making art, it's different.
The Continental Club is like a little community.
It's so familiar. I'm good friends with everyone there. Walking in, you feel like walking into your living room. It's pretty incredible. And people who go there appreciate the arts, so it's such an inspiring place to be.
It's a great listening room.
Oh yeah, people get pissed off if there are people are not paying attention. Loud talkers are not tolerated.
That's very much the original mindset of Eddie's Attic.
I've heard so many good things about it; I'm excited to get down there. A girlfriend of mine is from Atlanta and she says I'm gonna love playing there.
You should record it.
You know I've been toying with the idea of a live album. I've been requested by some fans to do a live record. I get the sense that they are not trying to insult me, but they imply in not so many words that the live show is actually better than all of my recordings.
The live show really brings out the diverse styles of your music. It's definitely not traditional country.
Yeah, totally. It's a shame people feel the need to put things in boxes like that. When I submit my albums to iTunes I have to choose a genre and it always ends up being in the country genre. I love country and it's a huge influence on what I do, but I'm glad there are people out there who do try to broaden or make the boxes a little bigger, or maybe even create different boxes, with the Americana movement or the Ameripolitian and all of those. I'm very grateful for all those communities because if they didn't exist, I'm not sure if I'd have my own place to be.
Whitney Rose plays November 8 at Eddies Attic. For more information, please visit eddiesattic.com.