Denver based Rose Quartz has long been a staple in many of The Music Ninja staff’s music diets. Back in December, the now four-piece released their re-tooled, textured and evolved debut EP as a full four-piece, Leaving Now, which we fell head over heels for and most recently dropped a collaborative ‘TMN Premiere’ single with Brothertiger, “Pleasure & Pain”. Last weekend we had the chance to take in one of our favorite music festivals, The Underground Music Showcase, in Rose Quartz’s backyard of Denver, which this year featured headliners like DIIV, STRFKR, Tennis and of course, Rose Quartz themselves for one of the busiest three-day stretches we have the pleasure of consuming all year.  After taking in their Saturday performance on the Main Stage, we caught up with Ethan, Alex, Clay and Matt after an intimate and enthralling set on Sunday at the Hi-Dive to discuss the important things in life. Like disco, Schlitz Malt Liquor and loads more. Read our entire interview below.

TMN: First off, thanks guys for sitting down with us, we’ve been huge fans since it was just Ethan & Alex as FLASH/LIGHTS, and then of course to the debut Flashlights EP from Rose Quartz. We’re just going to keep it super casual, so let’s just get right into it.

So, now that you’re a full live quartet with the addition of Clay on bass and Matt on drums, there seems to have been a shift in sonic temperament from the Flashlights EP  to your most recent EP Leaving Now, which we loved. Can you talk a little bit about how that shift has affected the songwriting and recording process for you guys.

Alex: Yeah, we’ve done a lot of different things now that we’re a four-piece. We’ve been writing for the entire band now, and shifting our influences much more to a funky, disco kind of influence. We’ve been listening to a lot of the BeeGee’s, Hall & Oates, and Michael Jackson…

Clay: …The Gap Band

Alex: …Yeah The Gap Band, and a bunch of good 70’s funk and disco. And I think that just that has really helped out, and then having four people, whether it’s on stage or in the studio, just having three other people to smile at has made us want to play I guess, happier and more upbeat in regards to the music.

Ethan: And now that we’re a four-piece band, the writing style has changed. When it was just the two of us we had to write stuff that could be performed by two people and didn’t look shitty. *Laughs from the room* Which limits the kind of writing we could do in terms of our live performances. So now that we can do it as a four-piece we can write much more complex stuff with more layers, and more tasteful ways we could actually recreate live. So that was a big shift for us definitely. Just.. finding the groove.

Read the rest of our interview with Rose Quartz after the jump….


TMN: Awesome. So how is it now then, when you go back and rework stuff that was originally recorded as the two piece, like “Scarves” or “Haunt Me Forever”, and now play that within the four-piece structure? Have you gone back and retooled all those original singles

Ethan: Oh yeah, we definitely have. We toured all Spring on those songs as a four-piece, and it helped us out because we saw really what Matt and Clay could bring to the table when it came to our style. And then we took that and adapted it to our whole new writing process. So, now we have a good understanding of where we want to go as a four-piece group, because we’ve spent hours and hours talking about it.

TMN: Touching on the tour that you guys just mentioned. You were on tour with Generationals, which you had a van break down. *Collective laughter again* It seems like you guys have been playing with a lot of really talented bands. We’re going to go through everyone and ask, but are there any acts you’ve met or played with that you thought were pushing the envelope or that you might’ve drawn a little inspiration from over the course of the last year or so?

Ethan: Yeah, all the bands we’ve played with on tour have been really inspirational…

TMN: Yeah just to elaborate, you guys have played with Future Islands, Hercules & Love Affair, Cut Copy -I think we’re probably missing loads more- all in the last year.

Ethan: St. Lucia, Generationals… Yeah. We’ve found stuff that we all really like about these bands, and we’ve kind of taken note of it and used the influences where we see fit. And there’s definitely stuff that we’ve picked up on the road, stylistically where we think “that’s awesome”, we see them kill it every night doing whatever it is and let’s see if we can try that too.

TMN: Yeah, let’s bounce over to Clay now, who have you been listening to lately?

Clay: Honestly, over the last month before The UMS and with them headlining, I’ve been listening to a lot of STRFKR. And I’ve gotten into a lot of the bands that we’ve played  with. Like, !!! (chk-chk-chk) for me was a super cool band to be able to see up close. For me, they’re one of my favorites right now. They’re just really awesome. And I mean, getting to play with Future Islands and hang out with them, they’re just super inspirational people not just musicians. They were really great people and to see them get the notoriety that they’ve gotten in the last few years.

TMN: Yeah those guys have been working their asses off for the last decade at least.

Clay: I just love what they’re doing. They’re just true artists you know? They’re really genuine with everything they do and I think for me, just watching them was a hugely inspirational moment. And, it’s music that’s real and has a message.

TMN: What about you Matt?

Matt: Well right before I joined the band I saw these two at one of their last shows a two-piece when they were on tour with St. Lucia. And St. Lucia was really cool to see because they write a bunch of really great stuff. Then one of my favorite shows we’ve done was with Holy Fuck and Inner Oceans; and Holy Fuck is one of my favorite bands ever.

TMN: Where was that again?

Matt: It was at Lost Lake in Denver. It was just super intimate and insane that we put that show on in a venue like that, and it was a really special night…

Clay: Yeah it was packed in there, I thought Lost Lake was going to fall over that night.

Matt: No one was ready for that!


TMN: Awesome, well we heard some new stuff from you guys first on Saturday on The UMS Main Stage and then again Sunday at Hi-Dive. What’s coming down the pipe release wise for Rose Quartz?

Ethan: So, we got off tour in early April, and we’ve been playing together as a live band since I think last October so we had about 6 months to talk about what we wanted to do. So when we got off that tour, in the 6 weeks after that we wrote a full album. We had talked about it every single day on the road, just what we wanted to do.

TMN: And that was all four of you?

Ethan: Yeah, all four of us.

Alex: And if we had an idea then it was easy to bring it up and just be like “Hey I had this idea today, what does everybody think?” And then someone would be like “Hey, It’d be cool if we did this instead…”. And so when we got home it just went really fast.

Matt: Yeah, it’s all about the sound. It’s like we don’t care who plays what. If you have the idea let’s just get it down on tape. Sometimes Alex will play drums, and then I’ll play keys. And then, Clay will play bass or make beats

Clay: It’s kind of cool how fast it all came together. Because for me the whole album is a total representation of where we are as both a band and as people you know? We got off the road and with all these songs, when I play these new songs I think about the experiences we had together on tour and it completely just sums up the last 6 months of our lives.

Alex: Yeah it’s a pool party. We’re a pool band. *we all laugh again* Yeah this next album is actually quite pool themed I think. It might be subconsciously in there …

Ethan: Oh, it’s literally in there. I talk about a swimming pool in one song, I did sneak it in. But we took those 6 weeks, wrote the record, and then we spent about the next four weeks being harshly critical and thinking “what do we really like about this? Is there anything we could do better?” And we went through every single song and nitpicked it until it sits in a very good spot four all four of us and then we went and laid it down. And, we have a bit more work to do on the production and a bit more on the actual recording, just little bits and pieces here and there. But for the most part, we know what we’re going to put out now.

TMN: That’s great to hear. Well, we can’t wait to hear it. So that’s enough with all of the usual shit. We’re gonna ask some fun stuff to close it out. Let’s go down the line on all of these. First up, what’s your drink of choice, alcoholic or otherwise, while playing?

Clay: Schlitz.

Matt: Umm… Schlitz.

Alex: Definitely Schlitz.

Ethan: I’ll have a sparkling water.

Alex: I’m actually going to go get a Schlitz right after this interview….

Clay: Yeah, now I’ve got Schlitz on the brain.

TMN: If you could open for one act in the history of time as Rose Quartz with all four of you, who would it be?

Clay: Michael Jackson.

Alex: Hall & Oates.

Matt: Gorillaz

Ethan: Maybe… Hot Chip.

TMN: Nice. Okay, do you have a favorite record store in the history of your life that you maybe used to go to and discover music or just have fallen in love with over the years?

Ethan: One of my favorites that we’ve been to recently was in Nashville at The Basement. There’s a record store above that venue, and it was awesome. It had like an old attic kind of feel. That was one of the coolest stores we’ve been to lately.

Clay: I really love Graveface Records & Curiosities in Savannah, GA.

Matt: I like Graveface a lot too.

Alex: Yeah so Graveface is in Savannah and it’s a record label as well as a store and an oddities shop. So they just have a bunch of weird stuff; it’s not only records, but the records they have are choice. They don’t have any crap, and they carry everything from 80’s trading cards to bitters. But for me definitely, Wax Trax and Twist & Shout in Denver I hold very close to my heart. I grew up going to Wax Trax at least three times a week, and Twist & Shout I would go to at least once a week. And I would always be scouring for new cool stuff. I even worked at Twist & Shout for a few months.

Matt: And I have to give a shout out to Independent Records in Denver growing up. That place got me through some shit.

TMN: Oh yeah we used to love Independent! Now it’s an Angelo’s or some chain?

Matt: Yeah man. Angelo’s…

TMN: Alright last one. What was the last record you spent your own personal money on going out and acquiring?

Clay: The last vinyl I bought was either Darkside or !!! (chk-chk=chk) I can’t remember.

Matt: It was Holy Fuck actually.

Alex: I bought Museum of Love and The Juan Maclean -both of their new records at the same time.

Ethan: I bought The Antlers – Live in London.

TMN: Alright, thank you guys so much for taking the time to sit down with us. We’re gonna cut you boys loose to go enjoy the last day of UMS. We can’t wait to hear the album, and you know we’ll be on top of it! Thanks again to Rose Quartz.


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