Roses is a band based in Los Angeles. Members include Marc Steinberg, Victor Herrera, and Juan Velasquez.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Well, my name is Juan Velasquez and I play guitar in Roses. I used to play in another band called Abe Vigoda for quiet a few years and Roses is a band that started at the tail end of Abe Vigoda’s run.
How has living in Los Angeles affected your music? I’m not sure how Los Angeles has influenced us other than our friends who also play music here. I think there is a nice community of musicians and like-minded folks who have interesting ideas about writing music and playing as well. I think we all have a similar relationship with playing music, we all come from DIY/punk beginnings and I think that translates to the ethos of the community. The support of other bands and the “we are all in this together” mentality is an amazing environment to be creative in. Doesn’t feel like people are competing; everyone watches each other’s bands and we are fans of each other.
How long have you lived in Los Angeles and what brought you there? I have lived in Los Angeles for about nine years now. I grew up in the Inland Empire but was born in Mexico and moved to the US when I was two years old. I moved to LA because of music mainly. I made lots of friends in bands back when my old band Abe Vigoda started. I was always coming to LA (only a 40 minute drive from Chino where I grew up). It seemed like the logical choice since the suburbs weren’t really cutting it creatively and entertainment-wise lol.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? I think it’s a wide array of things. Like I mentioned before being part of a community of bands that all appreciate and like each other is really influential. I think we are always discovering/re-discovering music. I’m lately very influenced by The Cars, The b-52’s but also bands like AIR. I think everyone in the band is coming from their own influences. I think we are constantly sharing music that we like to each other and geeking out over things like synth sounds and drum sounds in recordings. Hard to pinpoint exact touchstones.
The cool thing about being in a band is that other than the actual music we can also express ourselves through other outlets (poster design/flyers/cover art/music videos). I think those are things maybe not all bands talk about. I don’t think we have an exactly noticeable aesthetic but we are all pretty into Memphis Milano design and incorporate that into our flyers and shirt designs. It’s cool to be able to be influenced by something like that and be able to express that visually. I think it’s just as important as the music often. I think there is something to be said about how a band presents themselves visually. It’s not like we have stage outfits or anything but its always cool to give the audience/people who are buying your tapes, shirts, LP’s something interesting to look at. Even the flyers that I make for our shows are not carelessly put together.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Roses are currently recording/demoing/writing songs for an upcoming future full length. We have an EP out that came out last summer and are ready to put out a full length record. No plans on who is doing it but we are just working on the music. We are constantly playing shows and just got back from a West coast tour with our friends Moaning from Los Angeles. We released a split cassingle with Moaning for the tour which is our most recent release.
How did your interest in music begin? For me it was pretty early. I have older cousins that introduced me to bands like the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana when I was pretty young. But before that I was really into Ace of Base, Madonna, Elvis and was obsessed with Sugar Sugar by the Archies and made my parents get me the tape of it. There was always music being played at my house. My dad was/is a huge Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Steve Miller fan and my mom always played lots of Rock en Espanol in the house. I was always trying to get CDs and stuff for X-mas, birthdays etc. And made lots of friends in elementary school around bands and interest in music. I was in the band for a little in Jr High but was terrible at trumpet and gave it up. Got into playing the guitar just from being obsessed with Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins, took lessons and got super bored and put that away until I met my band mate from Abe Vigoda my sophomore year of high school, who let me know that I didn’t need lessons and the ability to read music to write music.
What other musicians/bands are you interested in right now? I think our fav bands from LA are Dunes and Moaning. Never tire of seeing them play and just went on a tour with Moaning and I watched them every night and was constantly impressed and had a blast. Our new favorite band is Lithics from Portland; we played with them on this west coast tour and are amazing! They are a mix of Devo, the Slits, and Suburban Lawns but totally new and different. I’ve been listening to Lower Dens a lot recently and love them!
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? We have oddly enough never been asked this question but we have done a small collaboration with our friend Stephanie Chan who sings and plays guitar in Dunes. We wrote a song for her to sing and she did it live with us in November. Since then we do it with Marc our singer. But it was fun to write a song with a different singer in mind. I think we would be into doing that again. Not to sound like I’m obsessed with Dunes but it would be rad to work on a big collaboration with them.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after hearing your music? I think I want to them to not think its boring or been done before. I hope they think its fun and want to listen to it again LOL. I’m not sure 100% since I feel like we write music that we will enjoy and have no idea if anyone else will. It’s strange to think of someone listening/analyzing our music. I just want them to feel good or want to listen to it on a drive. When I listen to music I feel like I do it in a cinematic way where it conjures up visuals and emotions. It would be cool if someone else felt that connection with something we created.
What were you like in high school? I think I was pretty nerdy, about music not necessarily academics, although I did really well in school and was in AP and Honors classes LOL. I didn’t party really, I didn’t drink till I was about 20 years old. I think I was sort of a nervous dude mainly because I was out to some friends but not everyone. I never was bullied mainly because maybe I kept to myself when I wasn’t around my close friends. I had a really good time in high school though, I went to shows all the time and played music with Michael Vidal from Abe Vigoda and towards the end of HS started that band. I didn’t go to ragers or even get invited, but wasn’t totally unpopular but because I was so into music made some friends I might have not really had anything in common with otherwise. It was cool to have that outlet and that community with other music geeks.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your music? One time on tour with my previous band, this guy in Dallas came up to me and told me he listened to our music when he was in Iraq in the army… it was pretty crazy. I would have never thought that our music would be something someone wanted to listen to when they were in a tank! It was cool that he came to the show and was a really nice guy! It took me by surprise but it was a good surprise.