Typhoid Rosie

Typoid Rosie - Rosie Rebel

  • March 21, 2018
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Typhoid Rosie is Brooklyn-based punk/indie band. Since their inception, they have released 2 albums, The Music Album in 2013 and Hearts Bleed Goodbye in 2016. This Friday, March 23, they are set to release their third album, This is Now.

I had to chance to chat with singer Rosie Rebel recently about the band, the album, their songwriting, their influences and some other random nonsense.

First off, who is who in the band?

I’m Rosie Rebel and I’m the voice behind Typhoid Rosie. Phil Wartell plays drums, and he also produced this record. We also have the Steve Capecci on bass, Matt Kursmark on rhythm guitar and Christian DeMarco on lead guitar.

When and how did Typhoid Rosie get together?

For most of my life – I had no idea that I had any musical ability. I started Typhoid Rosie kind of on accident. I had been doing comedy for a long time and in around 2011 I wrote a joke song about a girl with a yeast infection who developed a genetic resistance to her medicine and had to resort to good-old fashioned garlic remedies, and before you know it, she’s fighting vampires and shit. Since many of my friends were in bands at the time, I convinced a few of my musician friends to play this song with me at one of my comedy shows. Not long after that I saw a bullfight in Spain which destroyed me so much that I became a vegetarian. I wrote my first serious song called “El Toro” which I showed to some of my friends who were musicians who were actually quite impressed. My friend Vic Ruggiero from the Slackers was like, “Yeah…keep making music.” At first I was just joking around – but then I realized I had some song writing talent that I didn’t even know about.  That’s when I  decided to start Typhoid Rosie.  My drumming husband who really is the backbone of Typhoid Rosie was like, “OK, fine, I’ll be in your band…but no joke songs!” Instead of making babies, we made 3 records. Being in a band is kind of like being in a relationship, people break up, people come, and go. One minute you’ll have a guitar player and then another band with slicked hair and sunglasses will pull up on motorcycles and before you know it, they’re combing each other’s hair and riding off into the sunset.

Most of our current line up came out of the NYC ska/reggae scene — even though we don’t play any ska or reggae at all.  For example on March 9th we have a show with the Pilfers, Full Watts and Reggay Lords at Brooklyn Bazaar. My drummer, bass player, and rhythm guitar player are all playing 3 sets in 3 different bands the same night. The only exception is our guitar player – Christian DeMarco. We weren’t even necessarily looking for another guitar player. I go to this crazy gym called Brooklyn Zoo, and one of these ninjas from my gym named “Adrian” who was teaching me how to destroy a punching bag, came up to me one day and said “Do you need a guitar player? He’s really, really good.” Christian came over, and I popped some home-made Spanikopitas in the oven, and we ate and drank like Kings and Queens. Then he went to play for us, and we were like, “Holy Shit, he’s really, really good.” And when he came into our band, he brought so much excitement and positive energy. He came over like every day to work on the songs. Our drummer would sit down and play guitar with him, and the two of them banged out all of the lead guitar parts before we hit the studio to record “This is Now.”

Where does the name come from?

I have a History degree, and I quite fancy stories like Typhoid Mary. Mary was a healthy carrier of Typhoid Fever. She had the disease in her cells, but her body was dealing with it, so wasn’t really sick at all. The only thing was Mary worked in kitchens, and the people around her would get sick. They tried to quarantine her, they might have put her on an island. If it was in the 19th century, I think there was probably no plumbing or hand-washing sinks. Somehow Mary would keep getting jobs  and sneak back into the kitchen. Like everyone trying to survive, she hustled her way back in. But in my head – for whatever reason, I think it would be hilarious like if she worked in a pizzeria. I picture her like this anti-hero throwing her dirty hands all over the pizza dough, and like maybe they catch her, and they’re chasing her and she’s really good at parkour… While I am the first one to wash my hands and to tell a place that they are out of soap – I thought wouldn’t it be cool if our music was that infectious that it spread in powerful ways. Typhoid Mary was taken. I wanted to keep my music separate from my comedy name, Rosie Rebel, so I chose Typhoid Rosie.

What do you all do when you’re aren’t playing with the band? 

Since music pays not even a penny per stream for something that it took years and thousands of dollars to make, we all have other jobs. I work on movies. I’ve done almost every job in movies except camera and not as much grip and electric that I’d like but my favorite is art department and prop master. Every thing you see in the background, and anything the actor is holding is all art department and props. When I’m not working on movies, I do a lot of trampoline, tumbling and roller skating. During the week, Phil Wartell puts on a suit and destroys people in the court room, and on the weekends he plays handball with our newest fill in guitar player Billy and plays in several other bands. Steve Capecci teaches bright young stars so that they can grow up to be healthy, vibrant bass players but he also plays in bands like the Full Watts and the Pilfers. Christian is also making his way playing music, I feel like last week you might have seen him shredding with his guitarbusking with a band in the subway. Matt Kursmark plays in like eighty-seven reggae bands and he’s kind of big deal working for some kind of millennial app where they send each other money and emojis.

For those who have never heard your music, how would you describe it?

I thought The Punk Site did a sweet job of describing us – “Punk and Indie Grit with Pop Hooks.” I completely agree with that. To me the most important part is the hook. We want to make songs you can sing along to. So maybe I’d like to build on what the punk site said by describing us as “Punk singalongs, with Indie Grit and Pop Hooks.”

What musicians got you all interested in playing music?  What bands would you consider to be your core influences?

Everyone in the band has such a wide variety of influences that its hard to really pinpoint what bands influenced us musically. When we write songs, we sort of just write what we write organically without trying to sound like a particular band or trying to force the songs into a particular style or feel. I think that’s why we tend to straddle the lines of various types of music and as a result I think people have a hard time trying to categorize our music. There is one band that did have an influence on our upcoming record though. Not necessarily from a musical standpoint but rather from a songwriting one. Our drummer grew up with the singer from Iron Chic in Long Island and he took me to see them right around the time that we were writing songs for the new album. When I saw Iron Chic, what was so incredible to me was the energy of their songs. Just seeing the way the crowd reacted to them really blew me away. I thought it was so incredible to see how deeply Iron Chic’s music resonated with their fans. In that way, as a lyricist and singer – I started to write new songs with that in mind. This record is different in that way. I wrote something that we could all scream our hearts out to, and when I sing these songs, I can feel the energy of a crowd singing along with me.

Your new album (This is Now) is scheduled to be released on March 23rd.  How was the recording process on this album and how did it differ from the process on the 2015 album Hearts Bleed Goodbye?

When I wrote Hearts Bleed Goodbye, I was in a different place: My Mother died leaving my Grandmother’s funeral. So I had the unexpected tragedy, and lost two women I loved the most 3 days apart. I was run over by life. I would cry in my dreams, and would wake up saying “Is she really gone?” I wrote that album at my most broken and vulnerable, which in some ways is one of the greatest things you can do as an artist, is to be so honest and raw. Hearts Bleed Goodbye was very much a tribute, I built something to so raw – so that maybe I could make enough noise to put the speakers outside Heaven’s Door cause I love her so much.

But with this record, I’m in a different place. This record has more fight in it. This is the record, where after life gave me a knock out punch I got back up. It’s more about survival and using the energy to get us all moving. I even put it a little badass punk army of gang vocalists on the record. Some of my friends from Hub City Stompers (Jenny Whiskey, Rob George, and Travis Nelson), and also Scott Vesey, and Eric Abbey from J Navarro and The Traitors sang along with us. It was so cool to have our friends in Jersey and Detroit sing on this. This is the kind of record that will where you’ll see me in the circle pit with the microphone dancing with you. These are like the punk songs I grew up listening to.

How do you typically write material?  Lyrics first? Music first? Collaborative jam sessions? 

Most of our songs start out like a seed of an idea. Sometimes, I’ll be walking my dog and a song will come to me. I’ll record it and show it to our drummer, and if he likes it, he’ll take the guitar out and play with it, arrange it, and he’ll bring it to our band. We’ll record something, and I’ll meditate on it and bang out the rest of the lyrics. As far as our band goes, they’re so quick we can show up with a song at rehearsal and they’ll have it in no time. Sometimes they’ll add a suggestion, or their own style on their instrument, and that’s usually how a song is born. Because I have so much inspiration, I have no problem throwing a song out the window. Occasionally, I’ll fight with the drummer if I really love a song, but that’s rare. He’s very good at quality control, but sometimes I will have it out with him.

Do you have plans to tour in support of the album? If so, where will that tour take you?

We have two shows coming up both here in Brooklyn in the next month.  One on March 9th at Brooklyn Bazaar with our friends the Pilfers, Reggay Lords, and Full Watts, and of course we have our Record Release show on March 23rd at Kingsland with HypeMom, Bike Thiefs, Vassals, and Briscoe. We have no tours booked at this time, but we are hoping to begin planning some shows up and down the East Coast soon and expect we will make our way to the Midwest later this year.

What are some of your favorite cities and/or venues to play?

Many of the great venues I loved are gone now: The Swamp, The Wetlands, Coney Island High, ABC No Rio, Gas Station and CBGBs. I want to play Reggie’s in Chicago and do some shows in Detroit with our friends the Traitors, and some shows with HCS. I really want to play the cities where people around the World have helped get our music out there. I want to meet the DJ’s who play our music, and people who write about our music because I’m so grateful to them, and I want to put them on the guest list. The top places that I can think of are England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Greece, and Bosnia. We have a friend Asaf who wrote about us in Sarajevo, and a friend in Lyon France, Remi, and we have so many friends in England. I’ve toured England a bunch of times.

This question is not music or band-related. What are your top 5 favorite movies and/or books?

I love this question.

My top five books:
The Odyssey (Richard Lattimore translation)
Plato’s Symposium
The Glass Castle
The Giver
Still Life With Woodpecker

Top Five Movies:
Easy Money
Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind
Throw Momma From The Train

You can learn more about Typhoid Rosie at the following links:

Official Typoid Rosie website
Typoid Rosie on Facebook
Typoid Rosie on Twitter
Typoid Rosie on Bandcamp