“I don’t see any contradiction between playing a loud rock ‘n’ roll song or a quiet acoustic ballad, if it’s all coming from a place that’s real and honest,” says Cold Roses singer-guitarist Rob Clancy.
Indeed, Cold Roses’ new album Escape to Anywhere makes it clear that this is a band that’s too busy making dynamic, personally charged music to recognize musical limitations or genre restrictions. The Philadelphia-bred sextet deftly merges forceful sonic punch, crafty melodic hooks and emotionally forthright lyrical content, while taking advantage of the varied sonic and textural palette provided by the band’s expanded instrumental lineup.
The level of commitment that drives Escape to Anywhere has been deeply ingrained in Cold Roses since the band’s scrappy beginnings on Philadelphia’s highly competitive live music scene. Clancy was still in his early teens when he began playing drums and guitar in other bands, but it wasn’t long before he embraced the urge to write his own songs and play his own music. Clancy assembled Cold Roses, and almost immediately, the new outfit established itself as a presence on the local club scene. Although they briefly gigged as an acoustic trio before adopting a standard two-guitars-bass-and-drums format, Clancy’s restless creative spirit eventually drove him to add keyboards, saxophone and trumpet to the band’s lineup.
“I love ’60s R&B and soul, so I looked to that stuff and thought, what would happen if we bring in a horn section?” Clancy recalls. “We brought them in to rehearsal, just to see how it would sound, and they just kind of stuck. Once we got them in the band, the whole vibe just changed. Having those additional elements to draw on gave us the ability to stretch out and make unpredictable choices.”
Despite the band’s lack of a mainstream record deal, WMMR jumped on board, naming Cold Roses Jaxon’s Local Shots Artist of the Month and giving airplay to songs from the band’s independently released album No Silence in the City. Eventually, stations across the country were playing Cold Roses tracks as well.
While Escape to Anywhere demonstrates Cold Roses’ credentials as a world-class outfit, Clancy is quick to note the role that the band’s hometown has played in developing the band’s music and character. “This band has definitely been shaped by where we’re from,” he states, adding, “Philly made us a working band. In Philly, if you’re a band playing original material, you really have to bust your ass, and that was a big lesson for us. All of the people in this band come from very different musical backgrounds, but we’re all from this area, and that common ground is a big part of the band’s foundation.
“Philly has an underdog quality, and it also has such a rich R&B and jazz heritage,” Clancy asserts. “It’s a town with a lot of heart that doesn’t put up with BS, and it’s a working-class town with a strong work ethic. It also has some of the toughest crowds in the country to win over. We’ve played to such a wide variety of people and found a way to connect with each one of them.”
The lessons learned on the band’s home turf proved invaluable during the making of Escape to Anywhere. The band recorded the album for indie label Recorded Records at Los Angeles’ Cactus studio with veteran producers David J. Holman and Roger Paglia.
“We approached the whole thing very organically,” says Clancy. “We recorded everything analog, and we recorded all of the rhythm tracks live, because it was important to us to capture the feel and keep the human quality. The whole thing was really exciting… It was also the first time we’d worked with producers, and it was good having someone who had a different perspective and could offer an unbiased opinion of what we were doing.”
That restless sense of adventure runs through Escape to Anywhere, and marks Cold Roses as a band to watch.
“It’s been a long process getting this record out, but I feel like it’s been worth it.” Clancy concludes. “I feel like this band now is a well-oiled machine that’s firing on all cylinders, so we’re looking to getting out there and seeing what it can do.”
Check out the exclusive premiere of the video for “Divine Lorraine”:
See the band LIVE at Milkboy on Saturday November 25th with Soraia, Lito and the Shepherds, and the Hess Brothers – Get details HERE
Hear even more Philly-based music on Jaxon’s Local Shots Podcast!