Interviews

From the Ashes | An Interview with Leah Lane of Rosegarden Funeral Party and Album Premiere

Today marks the release of Dallas, Texas based post-punk band Rosegarden Funeral Party‘s third album, From the Ashes, via Young & Cold Records. We’ve always adored the band’s cathartic, yet vulnerable energy and have been following them closely since their inception in 2017.

From the Ashes marks a few significant changes for Rosegarden Funeral Party, including both a lineup shift and a welcome sonic evolution. While the band’s knack for razor-sharp guitars and high octane rhythms is still intact on tracks such as “Pillar of Salt” and previously released single “Almost Heaven,” the album also features warm synth pads, clouds of horns, and more reflective, wistful passages. Songs such as “Love Like Goodbye,” “A Different Kind of Carnage,” and “Like the Rain” are bold and beautiful steps forward for the band, tapping into similar nocturnal atmosphere as Bryan Ferry, Icehouse, or even Joe Jackson.

Band architect, guitarist, and vocalist Leah Lane bares her soul across the album’s ten tracks, a phoenix shedding her skin and leaving no stone unturned during the process. The album’s lyrics are deeply inspiring and show a newfound confidence and resilience, a letting-go that’s deeply inspiring to see play out on tape.

We’re honored to premiere From the Ashes in full, and also had the chance to catch up with Leah about the genesis of the record, the evolution of the band’s sonic palate, the upcoming Obituary Festival in Dallas, and how it feels to perform so openly on stage. Please press play on the Bandcamp link below and enjoy our chat!

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So, these are truly exciting times for Rosegarden Funeral Party. From the Ashes is out today, and it always seems like you’re pushing the band forward with such impressive energy and productivity. What inspires that? 

I think that a lot of us in the post-punk scene, we all struggle with depression. I think for me, always having something coming up on the horizon helps me to get out of bed in the morning and keep doing my thing. If I have an active project that I’m working on, I get very committed to those goals that I set in place, and that stops me from succumbing to it. It’s not a foolproof system, but I think the reason why I’m so dedicated to always having something new on the horizon for Rosegarden Funeral Party is because it’s what keeps me sane and keeps me here.

The reason that it’s such a such an energetically charged and inspired time for us right now is because we wrote and recorded this record very quickly, over about two-and-a-half months in total. It’s jus been this whirlwind of creativity. I kind of thrive in in a pressure cooker, and I knew I had to get the album out before the tour with Night Club. It’s nice to write, demo, and record an album and then immediately go on tour, all in the course of three months. That feels really good.

I’m exhausted just thinking about all that! It’s impressive that you have that energy to get up and do it!

Well, I’m lucky I got December off, you know? We went on tour for all of November, but then I came back and took the holidays off, and then just immediately started writing this album. My booking agent really wanted to have a new record to support on this tour with Night Club, and I was really excited to have that fire under my ass to help me thrive. It’s nice to have a a brand new album of songs that were written so recently. Because, you know, I’m still feeling these songs, like everything that these songs are written about are issues that I’m dealing with right now. That charges up the inspiration, I think.

Well, that’s precisely how I wanted to kick this interview off, honestly. Your work is always so autobiographical and from the heart. What are you feeling on this record? 

I feel like I always ride this line of too honest, so I don’t know if I should answer that question honestly…

The confessional is open…

Well, I think the record in general is about my inability, through the last six or so years of Rosegarden’s career, to really let go of people that have hurt me, or circumstances that have hurt me. I’ve spent a long time wearing the the bad things that I’ve gone through as like this kind of purple heart, and I’ve spent a long time glorifying my pain and thinking that was healing. But really what I was doing was building an altar to tragedy. I took two years off from writing for the band, and we started changing a lot. When I came into the studio to record this album. I realized that I was a different person and that I had learned a lot. One of the main things that I discovered is that I spend a long time really believing that if you love someone, even if you let them go from of your life, you still hold them really tight in the center of your chest forever. That’s how you can love them, even if they’re not in your life. Sometimes the best way and the most pure way that you can love someone is fully letting them go.

So I think that this album is as a whole is about genuinely realizing when it’s time to let go and when it’s time to let go in a loving way. It’s about forgiveness and this kind of self-reflection and self-ownership and self-awareness. I feel like a lot of my albums in the past have been very confused and desperate and very, very broken, in regards to the lyrical content. I think the biggest difference on From the Ashes is that I’m not confused or broken. I’m sad, but I’m resigned and I’m very deliberate, and I think that’s reflected in my personal life, for sure. There’s a lot of acceptance, that this is the way things are gonna be. You know, just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it’s not right, you know? Sometimes things in life hurt. But that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. Sometimes things are just gonna work out in a way that you know you wish were different. It’s a lot of self-preservation like that.

Image by Vera “Vicious Velma” Hernandez

Well, hearing you say all this, the album cover seems to be very reflective in a way. Really, it’s so different than the last few albums, the photo of you on the motorcycle, which is usually a symbol of freedom. Does that factor in at all?

Well, I’m glad that you asked about that, because the the album cover is actually an extremely personal image! I’ve always told my friends that, when I was really able to heal and was at a good point in my life, there would be signs. One of the signs was that I would bleach all my hear blonde to signify the total rebirth that I had always planned on…

Well, check!

Yeah! I’ve always paired emotional transformation with physical transformation. I’ve done that my whole life. It’s just a way for me to bring the nonphysical into the physical world, to cement it a little bit more. So, another thing I said, another sign, was that I’ll get a motorcycle. When I said that, all of my friends recoiled in horror because they all know that I’m insane, and I’ve always been a hard partier, but what I explained to them that I don’t see it as a sign of recklessness, it’s a sign that I can handle it, finally. Now that I’m not destroying myself with partying, that irresponsible nature is is gone. The motorcycle is such a kind of universal sign for recklessness and self-destruction, but for me, I would only ever get a motorcycle if I knew that I wouldn’t kill myself on it.  So, the image of me on the motorcycle, with my blonde hair, is exactly what I’ve always imagined my fully healed self would look like. That’s why I chose that image specifically for the album cover.

It’s funny, because when I told folks in my close creative circle what this cover was going to be, they all knew what it meant, but they wondered if it really encapsulated the vibe of the album, or if anyone would get it without the backstory. I don’t know if it does exactly, but for me it does. This music and the visual representations of my art have always been first and foremost like a tool for me and for my processing and my healing. And I’ve just been, so lucky and and so blessed that it’s also gone on to to help others. With that in mind, I wasn’t really concerned with whether or not other people would get it. But I also was hoping that I would have a chance to explain it.

So how much of the album was demoed in advance, vs. say, writing it in the studio? 

We spent a total of eight days in the studio, I think. I spent a month demoing the songs out, but very, very little of what was recorded on the demos actually made it onto the album. Maybe a few synth pads for convenience and a couple of guitar tracks. Other than that, everything was re-recorded. The recording process really did fly by.

It’s my first album with this new lineup of guys. It’s Scott White on bass, who I’m also in a shoegaze band with called Deep Red… Then I have Dean Adams on drums, who is just an exceptional musician. Not only on drums, but he’s a great piano player… Really both Scott and Dean have incredible range. So, this is the first Rosegarden record that was a full collaboration between all three of the members, we  all worked out the arrangements together, you know? Scott and I both tracked guitar and we all played keys at some point.It was the first record that was entirely collaborative like that. I loosened my vice grip on the on the music a little bit, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision, because I really feel like it serves the songs.

I was able to go places with the music that I used to be afraid to go to, even though I’ve always known that Rosegarden is not like a typical goth band from the beginning. I’m hyper-aware you know? I have an understanding of the genre and there was a long time where I was  afraid to do anything that kind of touched on my other influences, like Japan or Bryan Ferry, or even say, Genesis. I didn’t want the goth scene to turn on me or lose interest. I didn’t want to disappoint the people who first started listening to my band, first and foremost. I was afraid. But the guys on this record really encouraged me to pursue different avenues than I had in the past and not be so worried about the way that the songs would be perceived or whether or not the songs were goth enough, or dance-y enough, or energetic enough. They reassured me that this is Rosegarden’s third album and the fan base is going to stick with you because they like you, and that it was more about the lyrical content and your voice and that kind of personal connection to the band.

Someone else reminded me that The Smiths aren’t goth at all, but somehow are a band that goths tend to love, outside of that.

Exactly! All of these bands you mention have darkness and beauty in there, and honestly, I find it more interesting when bands don’t stick to the traditional gospel of what is or isn’t goth in that way… With that in mind, let’s talk about the saxophone! Obviously we talked about sax and outside influences a little over text the other day, so let’s get into it. Who’s playing sax?

So that’s Alyssa Gallagher from Trigger Discipline, out of the the Boston area. They’re a duo that we took on tour with us in November and I just fell in love with both of them, and when I fall in love with bands, man… I’m just so big on collaboration and I just want everybody to work together.

So yeah, while the sax on the album obviously can remind someone of say, Bauhaus, Sad Lovers and Giants, or Theater of Hate, but it also finally delivers on your secret love of yacht rock… 

Hah, you mean my not-so-secret love…

Well, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt…

*Chuckles* So, yeah the saxophone on “Doorway Ghost” stems from wanting to involve Trigger Discipline on a track. I wrote that song when we were on tour – it was the only one I wrote while out on the road. I asked Dean, who was on tour with me, if there was room on this song for Alyssa to collaborate on, and he said absolutely. When we demoed it I intentionally left space for her. I sent the track to Alyssa, and then booked Trigger Discipline to play New Year’s Eve with us in Dallas so that they would come down our way. That’s when we recorded the track.

I knew that I’ve I’ve wanted to put saxophone in our music for a long time, and sadly I was always vetoed.

Well that’s just odd to me – even if you were intentionally aiming for more post-punk or goth influences at the time, it’s not like Bauhaus, The Cure, Essential Logic, etc. didn’t have saxophone galore! I could name a bunch of bands who use it

Exactly! I knew that it wasn’t that far off. When it came time to record the full album I knew I wanted more horns on the album, and that’s when Dean brought in his friend named Miles Belvin, who’s a really really great jazz trumpet player, and he’s the one that did the rest of the horn work on the album, whether it’s trumpet or flugelhorn on songs like “Like the Rain,” “First to Cry,” and “A Different Kind of Carnage.”  I started putting it everywhere. A lot of that influence for me was from The National. I’m a really big fan of the band, especially Boxer and High Violet. I love the way they use horns. So yeah. this was just another wonderful way that my toolbox was expanded by the encouragement of my bandmates.

I mean, you have to evolve. If you made the same record over and over again, that would be letting people down in a way.

Right. entirely and like, and I kind of felt like I had gotten into a little bit of a rut with In the Wake of Fire. I really did not like that album. I mean, I liked some songs on it, but I came away from that album, and I look back on it back at it, and I know that will forever be the worst album I ever make. That’s not to say that it’s a terrible album and nothing against people who like it, I just don’t ever wanna make an album that feels that contrived again. I wanna keep pushing the boundaries. Now, with From the Ashes, I genuinely feel like I made an album that’s representative of my influences, whether it is like yacht rock, night rock like Bryan Ferry, or Nick Cave, or bands like White Lies. I feel like this is probably the album that, so far, is the most indicative of my direct influences and the music that I listen to all the time, and I’m excited about that, because I haven’t been able to say that about any of my past releases.

Well, now that you feel comfortable in your own skin, will you be continuing down this path, or is it too soon to say?

Yeah, I have no idea what what I’ll do next. But I’m I’m really excited about it, especially because I have these players with me. They’re kind of limitless in their ability, and that’s showcased on the record, especially if you get closer to the end of the record, on tracks like “A Different Kind of Carnage” and “Like the Rain.” Those are my two favorite tracks on album, but are also the biggest departures from what we’ve ever sounded like. I remember when we were recording “Carnage” – I was thinking about Bryan Ferry and trust me, one day when the budget allows, I am just gonna start wearing suits. We’re gonna have a horn section and a percussionist and like, three backing singers. I was poking at that dream with that song. I came up with the lyric idea when we were on tour. Dean and I were talking about all of these people in my life that have taken advantage of my vulnerability and my kindness. I was waxing poetic in a silly way. All of these vultures are just circling a dying thing, and Dean told me that I needed to write that dow and to write a song about that. When I sat down at the piano to write, it came out sounding like this kind of late-Roxy Music melody line and I got really excited because I loved the juxtaposition of this like very brutal, goth lyric with this different kind of sound. It sounds like it’s gonna be a romantic piece of music, but it it’s totally not it.


I love parallels, I love when things sound one way and say another, and so that that was really cool. Also, because we share a title, I also started to revisit the Nick Cave and Warren Ellis album, and that’s how “Like the Rain” formed. I wanted to do a song that was an homage to late-era Bad Seeds. I know it’s kind of an unpopular opinion, but I love his later work.

Oh, me too! I can’t really hang with the early stuff as much anymore. Of COURSE it’s great and iconic and there’s lots of gems, but I’ve grown alongside the band, and I’m more moved by Skeleton TreeGhosteen, and I’ve always said my favorite record of his was No More Shall We Part, which is not really a popular opinion either. I dunno, I was so put off recently when he was touring Skeleton Tree and played “Stagger Lee” as an encore. I know he has to play some of those murder ballads, that’s part of his brand, but it just felt so… performative in a way that was distasteful after basically being moved tears by what, for all intents and purposes, is pretty much a requiem mass for his son. Long story short, I’m all for listening to and channeling those latter-era Bad Seeds albums… 

Dude, I totally agree with you and I really wanted to write an homage to that sound. I’m glad we got to do it. I’m so lucky to have the people that I make music with now and that’s nothing against the previous lineup of Rosegarden. They are my brothers, and we’re still all really good friends.

Sometimes you just need explore different paths with a new group of musicians…

Exactly! No one was sacked. It was just that circumstances change in people’s lives and I had to keep the train rolling. With that personal change comes change to the music, you know? I’m really excited about where it went, because I get to do something really different. Changing lineups takes away some possibilities, but it also gives birth to a whole bunch of new ones, and I feel like we really leaned into the strength of change rather than kind of trying to repeat what we’ve done in the past just because we knew it would be safe. That’s not to say that there aren’t songs on the album that are kind of quintessentially Rosegarden.

Yeah, this record is still you at your core, it’s still your voice and your lyrics and your passion. This kind of reminds me in a way of that band Blitz who pretty much made a New Order record that alienated all their punk fans – I mean those original punk kids HATED it, but all us post-punk kids prefer that record. While some of the old fans turned their backs on the bands, a lot of them embraced both sides of the band. It’s proof of concept that sometimes it pays to evolve and try new things, if that’s what you need to do… 

Absolutely! I’m glad you get that…

Image by Vera “Vicious Velma” Hernandez

So you mentioned Deep Red earlier, and I’ve always liked that project as well. You just put out a few singles last year, right? What’s next for that project?

So, Deep Red, perhaps as the name implies, is deeper. We’re never not working. We have about 40 unreleased songs that are like completely demoed out. Scott and I get together every week and and work on Deep Red. Scott is kind of the antithesis to me in the way that he runs that band. In Rosegarden I am very go go go – close enough to rock n’ roll, let’s get in the studio, let’s get on stage, let’s go on tour, let’s just GO! But Deep Red is extremely methodical, and everything has to be perfect and meticulously prepared before anything happens. I’m sure that the correct way to run a band is like somewhere in the middle of what we both do.

That said, Deep Red is gonna be putting out an EP this year and we’re going to be recording a full-length album. We’re gonna be putting out a few more singles. I think, later in the summer, we’re finally going to start playing live shows after six years of being a band. It’s insane that we’ve never played a show in six years, but Rosegarden feels like we’ve played a thousand shows at least! Deep Red has never been on stage before, and I know we’ve built up a lot of anticipation for it. I was originally gonna put Deep Red in place of Rosegarden on Obituary Fest – the festival that I’m throwing in Dallas in July, but we’re not going to be ready by then, so Rosegarden it is! Alas, maybe next year…

Well, tell me more about Obituary Fest, then! 

Yeah, so it’s in Dallas, and Rosegarden will be playing alongside a lot of great acts. As soon as I get back from this tour with Night Club, all of my energy, every single bit of my soul is going to be in Obituary. We’ve got Lorelei K, Astari Nite from Florida, Trigger Discipline of course… House of Harm, Forever Grey, Urban Heat from Austin, and Deceits from Los Angeles. Also, we have Sean Templar and Dave Bats DJing!

Nice! A bi-coastal family affair!

Yeah! I just wanted to throw a big party with a whole bunch of people I like… That’s the coolest thing about the festival. It feels like a fully national goth festival since we’ve got just as much east and west coast flavor here in Texas, it just feels very inclusive and fresh. There’s no legacy acts on it, either. We’re really encouraging the younger bands of the scene to stake their claim. We’re also trying to encourage older folks who might not be in touch with what’s happening now to come out and see these new bands and see where the scene is these days. I’m really excited about it and will be pouring all my energy into it when we get back, making sure it goes off without a hitch and hopefully creating the possibility for it to it to happen again. I’d love to keep doing it for years to come. It was a dream of mine before Covid hit. Now I know so many more people, and I think it’ll just be ten times more fun than I originally planned. It’s at a really beautiful historic theater in Texas.

Well, while we’re here, I’d love to talk about your live show. The way you perform on stage has so much passion and vulnerability in it. Has that always been the case?

I mean, I kind of grew up on stage! I  started playing in bands when I was 12 – I played keyboards and percussion  and sang backing vocals in a psych band.

How Texas of you!

Yep, so very Texas! We were all obsessed with 13th Floor Elevators, of course. Those are my roots! But growing up, I was one of maybe two girls in the scene, playing in a boys club. All the guys I knew were in bands, and it was kind of weird being not only one of the only girls, but also being in sixth/seventh grade. I performed my ass off just to compete with the boys. When that first band I was in split, I went with one of them, and he really encouraged me to start playing guitar live. It was always my first instrument, but he encouraged me to start playing it more on stage, and pushed me to write my own songs. I started doing that, and wound up performing two of the ten songs of our set.

That band lasted until I was 19. After that, Rosegarden Funeral Party was born, and that was really the first band where I was the sole writer and director of of the group. It’s the first time I’ve ever been a front woman. I was super lucky and I really do thank God for all of this when I have a reflective moment. I look back on the way my career has gone, having been every member of a band other than a drummer, working my way from the back of the stage to the front. I feel like I very gradually got to grow as a performer.

I dunno man, I have this kind of philosophy that when you sing you’re not allowed to lie…that singing is something that’s really sacred, so I’m at my most honest, my most vulnerable, and my most unguarded when I’m when I’m on stage. That’s why I always get weepy and emotional. Being on stage is the only time that I’m not protecting some part of myself.

So between always being on stage and always feeling very at home up there, I don’t feel like anything could hurt me. It’s a safe space where I can express myself the easiest. I think that that’s probably why I’m so performative. It’s actually not performative for me, but it’s the only time in my life when the mask comes off…

I feel exactly the same way – it’s always been about exorcising my demons when I play on stage… So, let’s finish by circling back to the record. I’m just so happy to see a band making the music they want to make without trying to chase trends. In this day and age, that seems so rare, and I commend you all for it!

Yeah, this isn’t at all a fame grab. People give me all kinds of advice about how they think the band could be much more successful if I would just do X, Y, or Z. I’m just not really interested. The only goal that I have ever had with Rosegarden Funeral Party was to lead as an example of kindness and healing. That’s all I want. I just want to be regarded as a nice group of people who have a positive influence on their listeners. All I wanna do is make music that helps me heal and and pray to God that it helps somebody else heal.

I’ve always said this and I’ll say it till the day that I die: If it never gets any bigger than this, I’m happy. I just am so thankful that people are enjoying our music and are getting something out of it. There is no part of me, that is, is, you know, clamoring to to be bigger than anybody else. I don’t view myself in any sort of competition with any other band. I don’t get jealous of other band’s successes. The goal is just to to be a nice person and to encourage other people to be nice people as well.

Hopefully we can aid in making people feel less alone with those feelings that isolate us the most… §

Check below for the full list of tour dates for Rosegarden Funeral Party’s tour with Night Club and be sure to pick up a copy of From the Ashes via Bandcamp!

Header image by Vera “Vicious Velma” Hernandez

Frank Deserto

Bassist of The Harrow, curator/writer at Cherry Red Records, and blogger at Systems of Romance.

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