Whitney Rose's approach to country music is welcomed and novel.

On her recently released “Rule 62,” Rose continues the tradition that is prevalent over her previous releases. Rose is a fan of traditional country music. The influences of Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, June Carter, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and more of that golden era can be heard in Rose’s work.

Rose plays Club Cafe on Oct. 17.

The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with Rose about her busy 2017 (where she released an EP and LP), recording the vocals for “Can’t Stop Shaking” on this past January 20, the lost art of the story song and much more.

Whitney Rose: It has been a pretty good year. I like years that have both studio and road time. 2016 was, oh jeez, 2017 has been a very good one so far (laughs).


The Swerve Magazine: That is understandable, 2016 and 2017 seemed to have run together.

WR: Time does fly.

SM: And the older you get, the quicker it seems to go.

WR: That is becoming more and more apparent as I get older. I was thinking the other day about when you are four years old, and it seemed like summer was forever. It was, like, a lifetime. Now, it just flies by so quickly.

SM: Keeping busy the way you have makes time go even faster. You recored “Rule 62” in January of this year. Did you start recording in January or was it a continuation of recording as there is a shorter turnaround from recording to the release of the album?

WR: It was made in Nashville in a week in mid-January.

SM: In a week?

WR: We got right down to work.

SM: It is relatively quick.

WR: It is really how I prefer to make albums. I don’t like dragging them out. I find, at least for me, I work best when I have a task at hand. You could spend a lifetime trying to perfect an album. Or you can make the album that you are supposed to make right now then and get working on the next one.

SM: Making the album you’re supposed to make right now, it plays into the timeliness of “Rule 62.”

WR: Yeah, that was another thing. (We) wanted to get it out while it was still relevant.

SM: Although there is the wish it might not need to be relevant (laughs).

WR: It would be nice. Unfortunately (laughs).

SM: You recorded the vocals for “Can’t Stop Shaking” on the day of the Presidential Inauguration that had to be surreal.

WR: That whole day was surreal. All of us were trying not to feel too down in the studio. There was a plenty solid mixture of emotions. Some people were deflated and sad. Some people were just angry. There were so many different emotions floating around, we all channeled that energy into the music making.

I’m glad I was in the studio.

SM: If you want to, you can consider yourself lucky to have captured that day in a way not too many others can or could capture that moment in time.

WR: It was kind of cool. It was helpful to have somewhere to put those feelings. I’m glad that happened the way that it did if it had to happen at all.

SM: Was there plans to have the EP “South Texas Suite” (which came out in January) and “Rule 62” come out this close to each other?

WR: It wasn’t the original plan. When I signed with my current record label, and this would be in January 2016, I was told when looking at their current release schedule that they would not be able to put out a full-length album for me until late in 2017. I was just chomping at the bit to make a new album. I had just moved to Austin in 2015. I was writing all these songs. I had a bunch of new material. I was feeling inspired.

I asked (the label) if it would be cool if I made an EP. I’m glad that they agreed to do the EP because another thing that we decided when I signed with them was that I was going to be making my full-length album with them in Nashville. I had recently met so many incredible musicians in Austin, and I wanted to do something with them.

I got to record some of the songs with them that I had written since I moved to Austin. I got to record with my Austin band. I knew that I would be likely using Nashville guys (for the LP), so that part was really important to me too.

SM: The move to Austin was important for you musically.

WR: Very much so. I’m so glad that I moved here. It originally was supposed to be a temporary thing. As soon as I moved to Austin, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere for awhile. I absolutely love it here.

SM: Being from Canada, was there much of a culture shock moving from north of the border to almost south of the border with Austin?

WR:
Not really. I guess a lot of people would think that it would be a tough transition. Before Austin, I was living in Toronto. There are a lot of similarities between Austin and Toronto. The music scene in Toronto is incredible. A lot of people don’t know that. The Queen West in Toronto is a very cool roots, almost like a country, scene. There is a lot of different kinds of music. If you walk down Queen West, you are going to find some incredible music. Not a lot of people know that; it is not necessarily known as a music city. It could be.

SM: People have their views, as stereotypical and wrong as they may be, of what Canada and Texas are like even though there is so much more when you dig into them.

WR: Totally. I grew up on Prince Edward Island, which is a tiny, tiny little island on the east coast of Canada. It is 80 percent farmland. I’m not a stranger to rural territory. I was just telling someone the other day that when I’m in small towns throughout Texas or throughout the whole country, it is where I’m most reminded of where I grew up.

SM: That leads into my next question, which is your music with “Rule 62” and earlier work echoes old-school country music, not the pop music that is passing for country today.

WR: That is the country music I am drawn to, and it is the music I grew up listening to. I grew up with my mother and my grandparents.

My grandparents grew up in the total boondocks. My mother grew up with an outhouse. They moved before I was born, thank God (laughs). What my grandparents listened to was all kinds of country music. When I was growing up, they were listening to current country music. My grandmother still does. They also listened to the classics like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Keith Whitley, Kitty Wells. It is the music I was drawn to. I was signing Hank Williams when I was two I’m told.

I love it. It is the music that spoke to me the most, and it still does to this day. It is like the love of my life.

SM: Those influences are very evident in your music. There are a lot of people that invoke those names and then churn out whatever is considered country music today. It is more pop-rock than country.

WR: Pop-rock with pedal steel.

SM: Yes!

WR: It is not exactly my bag. To each his own, there is obviously something popular with that kind of music. A lot of people really like it and go really nuts for it. There is something that speaks to people. That is wonderful; it certainly doesn’t speak to me.

SM: In keeping with that classic country feel, you recently released “Trucker’s Funeral.” It is a song that if I didn’t know was written in the past couple years, I would think was from back in the 1950s or 60s.

WR: I’m a huge fan of story songs. One of my favorite songs is “Harper Valley PTA.” I think it is a little bit of a lost art. You don’t hear too many story songs anymore. I have written a few of them, but “Trucker’s Funeral” that made the record. It is one of my favorite songs on the album.

SM:
It is a lost art.

WR:
It used to happen a lot. I think it is an amazing way to tell a story with a song. Obviously, love songs are awesome too. I just think there is something special about a story song. There is no chorus, just telling a story.

SM: “Trucker’s Funeral” is based on a true story.

WR: Not too long after I moved to Austin in 2015, I was setting up my bank account. I was in the bank office with the bank officer. I don’t even really remember why he started telling me this or how it came up. He started telling me about his grandfather who was a trucker. At his grandfather’s funeral, he and his whole family met this whole other family that just showed up.

His grandfather had this completely different family on the West Coast. Neither family had any idea that the other one existed.

He is telling me this story, and I have my (banking) contract in front of me. I still have it, as I have all these lyric ideas written down as I was writing ferociously as he was telling me this story.

SM: They say that truth is stranger than fiction.

WR: Yes. You can’t make that stuff up.

SM: It is a standout track on the album.

WR: Thank you, It was a really fun song to write. It is one of my favorites on the album.