Photo by Adela Loconte
We caught up with Jose Boyer, guitarist for one of our favorite bands, Brooklyn's Las Rosas, while out on the road in support of Shadow By Your Side, their newly released, sophomore LP. Recorded in Nashville and NY, the album came together mostly spontaneous and under pressure of a looming deadline. Mix that with head-shakin' melodies, refined songwriting, relatable lyricism, and nostalgic influences, it's a record that's worthy of playing until the grooves start to crack.
Read our interview with Jose on recording the new album, writing songs, creating because you have to, and what's coming up for the band. Get a copy of Shadow By Your Side, here, and go see Las Rosas when they come to your town.
By Liz Earle
Photo by Marco Petrilli
How’s tour going? What’s been a memorable show you’ve played so far?
Tour’s pretty good! We’re in Austin and it’s our midpoint of the tour. First half we played lots of places we’d never been, so it’s a paving-the-road situation. That said, Portland and Denver stood out just because of the crowd and enthusiasm. We’d never been, but people knew the words and and were singing along.
That’s cool! Do you feel more creative when you’re on the go, always moving—or would you rather be at home with a routine?
At home with a routine. I’m a creature of habit, so whenever anything takes me out of my routine it’s a challenge, but also an opportunity to grow. Though, at home in NYC, the habit is always to be moving! But with my own bed at the end of the day. I have a home studio that’s cozy and I can really get creative in there. It’s all about balance!
Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type?
It’s been awhile since I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but I think I’m a SMDH.
We’ve been fans of Las Rosas for a while, what motivates you to keep making music—even when times are tough, or personal dramas like breakups happen, or whatever?
I think it’s innate. Maybe if I began doing pottery, or dance, or painting, I would feel drawn to it the same way, but I can’t not make music. I’m lucky we have this awesome band that can take that music, improve it, record and play it live. But it would be there regardless, even just in my bedroom. There’s definitely a sacrifice you make when you decide to commit to doing art, so there’s always, for me, that FOMO for a style of life where there’s stability, relationships, money, maybe some offspring, etc. But that feeling can be funneled back into the work, so it balances out.
What was it like recording in Nashville? Where did you do it? Who did you do it with? Why Nashville?
We had a friend who was working at the Bomb Shelter, and we’d been interested in going down there for a while. We loved it, we felt really at home and I think that really helped us get the takes we needed. The songs were really new, so it was important to feel comfortable.
Is there anything about writing songs for this record or recording that you did differently—or that you’d never done before—from the past?
Yeah, most were written after we booked the studio time. The previous record was all written well ahead of time, and we took our sweet time. In this case, part was recorded in Nashville and part in upstate NY. But in both cases, I was scrambling to get material together. It worked well, I think the pressure was a good thing.
When it comes to your songwriting, what comes first, lyrics or melody? Or both?
Melody always. It’ll be a strum of a guitar, or a note on the piano that unfolds a melody in my head, and then it’s a scramble to write it down, or record a snippet of it before it disappears. Once I have it pinned down, I start fleshing it out and lyrics pop out of the random mumbling that I do while I’m distracted with the melodies.
When did you first pick up an instrument? What was it? Were you self-taught or were you encouraged to take lessons?
My little friend in 2nd grade started violin lessons. I couldn’t figure out how the smooth bow hairs made the strings ring, and he wouldn’t let me touch it. I mentioned it to my mother, and bam, ten years of forcible violin lessons.
What was the first song you learned to play?
I picked up my sister’s acoustic guitar she left behind under a bed, when I was like twelve. I learned the A, E and D chords which meant I could play "Wild Thing" AND "Louie Louie."
What band or artist would you recommend to someone who is just starting out playing music?
When I first taught myself the drums as a teen, I picked the most simple album to play along to: AC/DC’s Back in Black. Later, worked up to Weezer, etc.
Are you already writing songs for the next album? Do you ever write songs while on the road?
It’s tough to write on the road. The only time you have is soundcheck and you don’t want to waste the sound staff’s time. I have lots of songs on the back burner. Some might work for this band, others won’t, and others we’ll probably work on together until they fit the band’s sound. We’ll be recording something like an EP this summer. Can’t wait to see what it sounds like.
If you could pick anyone in the world to produce your next record, who would it be?
Are you a New York lifer? Do you think you’ll stay there forever?
Doubt it! Sounds crazy! I’m from the south and there’s always this little idea in my head that eventually I’ll move back and trade the van for a pickup truck and have a real backyard. We’ll see!
Sometimes, Liz Earle writes. See more of her contributions, here.
This interview is brought to you by Original Fuzz Magazine. Find more articles in this month's magazine, here.