ROB ROWE Interview Guillermo Coronel 18/08/2013
FOR THE BEGINNING COULD YOU GIVE TO THE READERS A SHORT PRESENTATION ABOUT YOU, AND YOUR MUSIC CAREER.
I started playing music when I was about 14. My friends and I had a couple of punk bands that I played guitar in. We weren't that serious about it and I'm pretty sure I didn't even know how to properly tune the guitar. It was mostly an excuse to get together and skate half pipes in-between sets. It wasn't until a few years later when I was asked to join the first incarnation of Cause & Effect that I got more serious about it. After some changes to the line-up, I was asked to sing for the band and Sean Rowley and I started writing together. I would provide the words and Sean would write and produce the music. That led to a set of demos which lead to us being signed to an indie label in 1990. We released our first self-titled album in 1991 which was then picked up by a major label Zoo Entertainment/BMG and re-release in 1992 as "Another Minute." We toured the US with our new drummer/member Rich Shepherd and radio picked up the song "You Think You Know Her." That song eventually charted in the US at #24. While on tour in 1992, Sean suffered a severe asthma attack and passed away. Rich, our crew, and I returned to Sacramento uncertain about the future of the band. After some months we asked Keith Milo to join as keyboardist and we started writing for the next album. We eventually ended up in London to work with producer Martyn Phillips (Jesus Jones, Erasure). We lived and worked in London for 6 months and came home with an album titled TRIP that we are still incredibly proud of. The album was very successful on the college and alternative charts with the song "It's Over Now." The video was also picked up and played on MTV. In 1996, our label was sold and they dropped all of their artists except two. We were not one of the two so we decided to self-release, partially in an effort to regain and keep creative control. We have since released "Innermost Station" (1997), "The Sunrise EP" (2003), "Artificial Construct Part One" (2010), and "Artificial Construct Part Two" (2011). In early 2012 I decided to get serious about recording and releasing my very first side project. With a handful of songs written over the course of a couple of years, I locked myself in my Seattle studio and worked every day to sculpt them into something worthy of release. The original plan was a four song EP but during the course of those sessions I found myself inspired, more songs were written, and the project quickly doubled to eight songs. I'm releasing the album "An Elegant Exit" in late July under the name WHITEWAITS. The record was mixed by Ryan Coseboom (Halou, Stripmall Architecture) and mastered by Count. Because of their involvement and skill, it sounds great.
WHAT DO THE PEOPLE CAN SEE DIFFERENT BETWEEN CAUSE & EFFECT AND WHITEWAITS?
This is a hard question to answer. In some ways, it isn't that different because my songwriting and voice are still involved. Keith and I do have different production
styles though and I did challenge myself to write some songs with a much different structure than I might write for Cause and Effect. For instance, there are couple of songs called "Lost Boys" and "Down" that don't have my typical verse/chorus structure. I'm not sure they even have what you would call a chorus. I thought it would be interesting to try and make a song work outside of the usual pop arrangement.
CAUSE & EFFECT HAS BEEN IN ECUADOR. COULD YOU TELL HOW THIS EXPERIENCE IN SOUTH AMERICA WAS?
We had a great time, we loved the city of Guayaquil, and everybody was incredibly nice to us. The only problem I had was that our 2 day schedule was so full of interviews, TV appearances, and promotions, that when it came time to play the show at midnight, I was exhausted and practically falling asleep. It wasn't my most energetic performance ever. I'd love to go back though and see more of the country. I'll make sure to demand a nap before the show next time.
DO YOU THINK THAT CAUSE & EFFECT IS THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL SYNTHPOP BAND IN U.S.A?
No, I don't think we were the first successful synthpop band in the USA. By the time we came along, there were many others that had been around and successful long before us. Anything Box had a hit before us, as did Red Flag, as did others that I can't think of right now. Unless you're Neil Armstrong, you probably can't claim that you were "the first."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WITH YOUR NEW PROJECT WHITEWAITS?
I'm not sure what to expect. The reactions to the first two songs have been nothing but positive and the support I'm getting through the Kick starter campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1398801341/rob-rowe-of-cause-and-effectnew-project-whitewait) has been overwhelming. I didn't expect to reach my goal so quickly. I'm looking forward to the official release and then I hope to take the record on the road in the U.S. I miss touring and would like to get back out there in front of people. HOW COULD YOU DESCRIBE WHITEWAITS? That's a tough question. I always think it's best left up to other's to describe music. I'm way too close to it. It's probably a little different to what I've done in the past in one way though. One of the things I forced myself to do was to work quickly, not
over-think things, and to leave mistakes and imperfections alone rather than always fixing them. Even if the synths had the capability, I didn't use midi for any of the analog synth parts. They were played and recorded live and when I was programming midi tracks for software synths I stayed away from my usual routine of always reaching for the quantize button. Obviously if something was hurting the song, I'd fix it or re-record it but mostly I'd just leave things alone. I think the result is an electronic album that doesn't sound typically electronic. Ryan Coseboom's mixing decisions also added to that.
WHAT THE MUSIC MEANS IN YOUR LIFE?
Music has been incredibly important to me since I was a kid. I can remember Sunday mornings when my Dad would play his Beatles records over and over. I can't imagine growing up without music. The Smiths, New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen got me through my awkward teenage years. As a songwriter and performer, I've made music my priority. It's affected some major decisions. I gave up college for music, I've quit some very good paying jobs to focus on it and have chosen where to live by whether or not there was enough room for a studio. Other than my wife, my friends and family, music is the most important thing in the world to me. It helps keep me sane. If too much time goes by without writing a new song, I can get pretty unbearable to be around.
FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW HOW IS THE SYNTH SCENE IN NORTH AMERICA?
I can't really say. I don't really pay much attention. I do know that there's a ton of quality electronic music being made around the world today and that is a great thing. There was a time when synths went out of fashion but I love that once again they're being integrated into a lot of styles of music.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU COULD TELL US?
Every new album feels like the most important achievement. It takes a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of emotional energy to put together an album. Because I wrote and played just about every part on "An Elegant Exit" it was a real challenge for me. I wanted to prove that I could do it and to force myself to take on responsibilities I'd never had before. It was fun but it was also very hard work, with many ups and downs. There are some achievements from the past that I am
incredibly proud of. The fact that Cause and Effect was able to pick up the pieces after Sean's death and produce an album as good as TRIP is something to be proud of. The easier route would have been to stop.
PEOPLE IN ARGENTINA WANT TO KNOW WHEN “AN ELEGANT EXIT” WILL BE RELEASE. Right now, the official release date is July 30th. People can go to https://www.facebook.com/Whitewaits and like the page to keep up to date.
COMING SOON: WWW.EBMLOVERS.COM.AR