Interview: Josh Rouse
Published on October 18th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
He may have left his home of Nashville, Tennessee for the sunny climes of Valencia several years ago but singer/songwriter Josh Rouse has not used a siesta-punctuated existence on the Mediterranean coast as an excuse to rest on his laurels.
Last month saw the release of his ninth album Josh Rouse and The Long Vacations, a typically sun-kissed collection of ’70s-infused folk-pop lovelies, and he is scheduled to return to the UK with a show at The Sage Gateshead on January 22nd (click here to book tickets for this).
Rocksucker fired Josh over a few questions, as we are wont to do when an artist that we like brings something new out, and he answered thusly…
Congratulations on the release of a fine new album. Was it a conscious decision to keep the album so concise – only nine tracks long, none over four minutes – or did it just turn out that way?
It just turned out that way – this particular set of songs were pretty 1950s in length. It’s a short record but it seems that attention spans are quite a bit shorter these days so perhaps that’s a good thing.
Going by the music on the album, it sounds like you’re in a good place right now (I mean in terms of your life, not Spain!). Is this a fair conclusion to draw?
Yeah I’m in a good place, it could be worse! Still making a living from the music and I have a nice family so I can’t complain.
I like that the picture accompanying your Wikipedia entry is of you playing in São Paulo because I first became aware of your stuff when I spent a month there in 2003 – I had a Ryko compilation there that came free with a magazine and “Slaveship” was my favourite track on the CD. Have you spent much time there over the years? “Fine, Fine” from your new album has that tropicalia kind of feel about it…
I’ve just played over there twice but I have quite a few fans. I’m a big Brazilian music fan as you can tell from my past few records so it’s always a pleasure to drop in and drink the water.
Who are The Long Vacations and how did you come across them? Did they exist as a group before you teamed up with them?
I named them The Long Vacations, they played in my band and they play with other people so yeah they existed, just not with that name.
Were the songs on the album all written close together or do some of them date back further than others?
Some of them are a few years old but a majority were written in the summer of 2010.
Premature question perhaps but do you have material in mind yet for the next album? Or indeed any other projects you might have on the horizon?
I have quite a few songs recorded and am always working on new ones. Don’t have a particular concept in mind…. except SELL!!! I’ll probably release another one in a few years.
Are there any journalistic clichés/buzzwords that you’re sick of seeing/hearing as a description of your music?
No, not really. I used to get tired of the Americana tag ten years ago but I’ve done so much since then that I might be hard to pin down.
Which is your favourite album of yours, other than the new one, and why? And which album involved the biggest workload?
My favourite might be the first as it was such a new and interesting experience with touring and promotion etc. I’d have to say my third record Under Cold Blue Stars was a long process as there were lots of musicians involved and the label made me start over after I turned in the first five songs.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
I’m producing an artist named Alondra Bentley – she’s English but has grown up here in Spain. It’s a folk project.
Finally, if I asked you right now to name your top three albums of all time, just off the top of your head, which would you pick?
Hmmmm…how about my favourite British albums: Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter, Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Morrisey’s Viva Hate.
Josh, thank you.