Too Cool for the Pool & Too Hot for the Hot Tub: Q&A with Rose Quartz
Written by Lanny Lieu on May 29, 2015
What has tour been like for you guys?
Clay: It’s awesome. We all get along very well. We try to do fun stuff in between shows just to keep it not monotonous. We try to take advantage of the places we get to go to.
Alex: It’s been very centering. When we started playing together as a full band, we were all very excited and I think, we were all curious as to what that would sound like. It’s been great getting to know these dudes – they’re some of the best dudes. It’s affected our sound and it’s very focused. We’re all looking at the same picture and we know what we’re painting. We’re very excited to record a record together.
Ethan: I can say it’s been all smiles. I don’t think I can say that I’ve ever been in a band where I’ve smiled or laughed this much with. We just make jokes and have a great time. During the set, no matter what set, there are always exchanges of smiles and reaffirming glances. We’re all in this together and when we played a set like, Treefort, those glances didn’t just come from the band, they also came from the audience and that just adds to the energy. Whether there’s 12 people or 800 people in the room, we’re still getting a lot of smiles.
Is tour everything you guys expected it to be?
Alex: A few of us have toured with other bands before so we know what to expect with life on the road. It’s like having three or four other relationships where you know each other inside and out. We’re very comfortable with sleeping on the floor, in the corner, or in a van so there’s no real stress about anything else. It’s just, how much fun can we have? How much fun can we have playing music? How much fun can we make people in the room have? We want people to walk away from our show and be like, ‘I had a really good night.’ That’s what we’re going for. We want people to walk away and be stoked that they decided to go out.
Ethan: It’s simple and obvious but it’s also not that obvious. We see a lot of shows and sometimes people aren’t having fun. And sometimes you’re not having fun. To do it every day, you have to be enjoying yourself to keep doing it and being away from home.
How do you guys keep up the energy to perform night after night?
Alex: Yoga and singing together. It’s part of our warm-up routine which is what I was talking about with the centering and being on the same level. Whether it’s two people there or a hundred people are there, we’re going to bring the same energy and those two people are going to dance.
Ethan: It helps us sync up before we go on stage. We do our own thing during the day.
Alex: Sometimes we have alone time, sometimes we hang out together. We’re all in a certain mood before the show. We have about an hour before the show where we do our own thing and then 20 minutes before the set, we get together and find that center. We sing the same songs every time that make us laugh and that’s how we warm up our vocals. By having a laugh.
How long was Rose Quartz a duo before it expanded into a full band?
Ethan: We [Alex] and I have known each other for four or five years now. I didn’t know Clay or Matt at all before 6-8 months ago.
Alex: So we started Rose Quartz a year ago and we started it with the intention that someday, we’ll have a full live band but we didn’t know who and we didn’t know how so we did six months of heavy lifting in the beginning. We tried figuring out the vibe we had and the kind of vibe that we wanted to have. I’ve known Clay and Matt for 6-7 years because we went to school together. After college together, we were all in separate bands. I recorded Clay’s band and Matt and I had always talking about playing together so when Ethan and I got to the point where we knew how to do it, these two were our first options and it was a simple text and phone call. The whole idea was to just have as much fun as possible. I can’t think of two people I’d rather have in a band because it’s literally everything we said it was going to be.
You guys seems to have a very strong bond with each other and your music is very much centered around the idea of having fun and making everyone feel good.
Ethan: …and making us feel good… making each other feel good. [laughter]
Alex: Everyone’s a big boost of confidence to everyone. It’s a fantastic way to go about this shit.
You definitely need that to go on with so many tour dates and shows that are so close by.
Alex: We only have six songs. All we want to do right now is head in the studio and pump out this record. we’ve been talking about since we got together.
What inspires your synth pop sound?
Alex: Oh man, my obsession with synthesizers. I’ve played in so many different bands and coming to this kind of sound was just by way of touching a synthesizer for the first time in college – this analog thing with a million knobs and just making noise with it. I realized that with the synthesizer and the noise I could make with guitar pedals – that’s where I want to start electronic music. The obsession grew into writing pop songs. We love pop music. It was just writing structured pop songs with the elements of instruments that we love to play.
Ethan: It’s fun to plays songs that people can learn the words to. It’s an engaging experience where a bunch of people can just spit their feelings out and engaging in such a human way.
Alex: Every time I write a song it just ends up being poppy, no matter which way you look at it. I love chord progressions and repeating stuff. We’ve being diving into the past as far as listening to music.
Ethan: When it was just Alex and me, we were lacking a little in the bass department – the groove. Performing as the four-piece, we’ve been bringing up the groove level.
Alex: I never felt comfortable playing bass guitar when we were just a duo. If I were to play bass guitar, I wanted a drummer. There were so many times where I was like, ‘am I gonna play the drums in this band?’ As soon as started having more of a focus on live sound with drums and guitars, I was just like, ‘okay, I’ll play bass.’
Ethan: There are times where Alex will literally play every instrument on stage. It can go from bass to keys to drums to cow bells.
Who inspires you guys, musically?
Ethan: Whitney Houston, Hall & Oates, the Gap Band
Alex: We listen to a lot of DJs, house music, and dark, deep techno. Anything with groove, really. !!! is a huge influence of mine. I’ve known about them for at least 12 years. There’s this other band called Holy Fuck and there are no vocals and they just play noise. They have a drummer and a bass player and these layers of noise as the lead instrument and that’s just so inspiring to me because I love to create layers in unconventional ways with reverb and delay on my vocals.
Is there anything that inspires you guys, non-musically?
Matt: Steam rooms, swimming, and anything that involves hot tubs.
Ethan: pretty much anything that has to do with relaxing and having a great night.
Clay: We really like Jurassic Park a lot too.
Ethan: I also like touching on extreme human emotions such as love and loss and friendship and talking about those things in a way that makes you feel something.
Rose Quartz currently has an EP out called Axis of Love. How did you go about recording this?
Alex: That one was just Ethan and I. I have a shed in my backyard that I have converted into a recording studio of sorts and that’s where we practice and do all of it. We did a lot of analog synthesizers, sample drums, drum machines, and more electronic elements. We had it mixed by a guy named Jean Jacobs who performs as Brother Tiger and he did an excellent job This was one of the first things we put out that had the name “Rose Quartz” on it.
Besides the new record you’ll be working on, do you guys have any other interests you’d like to pursue?
Ethan: Oh yes, we will be camping a bunch. We need hot springs and casinos.
Clay: I want to play Treefort every year and if I don’t play, I’ll be here. Maybe I’ll even get a Treefort tattoo.
You guys are currently located in Denver, do you have any plans to relocate soon?
Clay: Boise, maybe?
Ethan: San Antonio?
Clay: Nah, we’re not moving anytime soon. We all love Denver. It’s an awesome home base.
Where can people find you guys online?
Clay: Everything is @RoseQuartzMusic. If people want to see pictures of us swimming and hanging out in hot tubs, they can follow our hashtags #swimacrosstheworld on Instagram. If they don’t care about us swimming, then we don’t want them… Our long term goal is to transition out of music and into a pool-centered travel blog.
Ethan: The takeaway from all this is that we are very serious with what we do. It’s all pre-calculated. We run this as if it’s totally a business and our goal is to make a lot of money.
Alex: We only wear khakis in the studio.
Ethan: …raise taxes, get more corporations involved, and get those corporate sponsors…
Now, I got a question for you: are you too cool for the pool or too hot for the hot tub?
Uhhh… that is a hard question.
Ethan: The correct answer is just, yes.
Rose Quartz’s Axis of Love can be streamed on SoundCloud.