The Rogers Sisters Interview

The Rogers Sisters started as a party band in their Brooklyn neighborhood and are now, several years later, starting to make a name for themselves across the United States. The trio, consisting of Jennifer and Laura Rogers, plus honorary Rogers Miyuki Furtado, have a new album out called Three Fingers. After a series of emails, we managed to track down singer/guitarist Jen Rogers for a ten minute telephone interview. Somehow we managed to avoid touching on any scandalous topics- which was a bit of a concern as they are still very much a fun-loving party band- and instead discussed the logistics of their recent tour, The Rogers Sisters hometown of Detroit, and some of their favorite local New York bands.

Better Propaganda Editor Terbo Ted talks to Jen Rogers of The Rogers Sisters.

Better Propanda: How would you describe The Rogers Sisters?

Jen Rogers: Oh boy! This could take the whole ten minutes for me to think of a description! (laughter) We play music that we think is fun. We try to challenge ourselves, and bring a lot of different elements and influences into it. A lot of people call us a party band. I don't know if we're new wave or garage or what label you want to say, but, we're influenced by music from the 60s, and the 70s and the 80s and the 90s and we just put it together, and that's what happens.

BP: That's really interesting that you mention a party band before any of the musical trends that everyone's paying attention to right now. Do you think people socializing is the most important thing?

JR: Um, I don't think it's the most important thing in the world, but it's the way our band started (laughter). We started playing at parties in our neighborhood, and it was just a fun way to make music and have a good time with our friends.

BP: You guys have a new album out right now called Three Fingers, it's got some fancier production for you guys, and you're getting a lot more exposure. What's that like for you right now?

JR: It's exciting, the recording process was so much fun and so creative and it was great to take that step into, you know, just more complex ideas. In terms of the exposure, we have yet to see what's gonna happen. We hope people like it and we're really excited about it.

BP: You guys just finished a mini-tour of New England, and you played- I can see on your website- you played every day in a row for like two weeks, what was that like?

JR: It was hard, mostly because we tour manage and drive ourselves everywhere, and it was bigger shows than we normally play, so a lot of the load-in times were early. So, what was hard was, you know, playing, hanging out, finding a place to stay, and then waking up first thing in the morning and driving all day, rushing to get there in time to do the soundcheck. But it was the best tour we've ever done. We had a blast. The audiences were fantastic. It was the best exposure we've ever gotten. You know, we can't wait to go out again.

BP: Is that tough on your hands and your voice to be singing and playing every day?

JR: It kind of makes it easier. Um, kinda warms me up personally and I get better. My sister lost her voice halfway through, because she normally doesn't sing much, she does a lot of screaming, and that's kind of hard on her (laughter) and so she's the drummer, and she gets a lot of blisters from the drumming. But, for me, as a guitarist, and the way I sing, it actually makes it better for me.

BP: You mentioned you guys are kind of like a new wave band a little bit, and also a garage band. There seems to be a lot of people mining the 80s right now as a stylistic thing. What would you say about that?

JR: I can't really speak for other people, you know. Things come around in cycles always, and it's just- I guess- the time for that to reappear. In terms of our relationship to the 80s, it's just like some of the music we grew up listening to, and it's an influence for us. We had no idea it was gonna be a trend. We covered Cure songs- you know- we started four and a half years ago to go to a party, because we thought it was like a catchy, fun song that we always wanted to play.

BP: Do you still have that fun thing in your party mode, when you play your bigger shows, and do you still think you're playing to your friends in their loft or something?

JR: I think so, we make each other laugh, and we're really close, so, we just make sure we have a good time, and I think that always translates to any audience.

BP: So New York City has put out a lot of really memorable bands over the last several years and you guys seem like you're getting pushed through those gears right now. Who would you also see as bands from New York City the rest of us in the world might be encountering in the next couple of years?

JR: Up and coming band?

BP: Yeah.

JR: Um, we have a lot of friends that are in great bands here. I don't know if any of 'em are accessible or commercial enough to ever break huge, but one band we really love is called Sighting. They're kind of like a really noisy arty band. Another band is called Oakley Hall, and they're doing a really awesome West Coast country rock thing in the tradition of Gram Parsons and Neil Young. Another band that are friends of ours, are called Jah Division, like as in Jah Rastafari, and they do dub versions of Joy Division songs (laughter), and they play parties and everyone loves that.

BP: Wow. Hey, um, you're from Detroit. I was wondering if you felt any sort of musical kinship with The White Stripes, just like generationally, or perspective culturally, where you're from?

JR: I think being from Detroit definitely colors your tastes and moods, and I think it's unavoidable. I don't know them. I have met them, you know, once or twice casually, so I don't know how much I do relate to them, but I really believe that being from Detroit... Detroit's a really intense place that's very much unlike any place else I've ever been. And I'm not just saying that because I'm from there. Because when I went out to see the rest of the world, I was surprised that how different it all was from Detroit. Detroit's a really dark place, and I think dark people get interested in darker music, from being from there. As much as we're a party band, we always like throw a bunch of minor keys in there. One time I played music with this girl, and she's like "why do you play everything in a minor key?" (laughter) And I was like, (laughter) "I guess it's because I'm from Detroit."

BP: There's a lot of excellent music that's come out of there. What Detroit music would you say inspired you?

JR: Over the years?

BP: Sure.

JR: Um, you know, Iggy and Stooges, MC5, Patti Smith if she's counted as Detroit, although I think she's more New York.

BP: She lives there now though, right?

JR: Yeah, but she's actually totally New York. Let's see... Motown. I grew up listening to a lot of r&b.

BP: Have you guys gone back to play there in Detroit?

JR: We have, yeah, we've been there a few times. This past time was our very best trip, we were opening for The Raveonettes, and we played for a great audience, and it was awesome.

BP: Are you going to be continuing to play shows throughout the year?

JR: Yes, absolutely, we're planning a trip to the West Coast this Summer, but it's not confirmed yet, so I can't give you the dates. And we're gonna do a little more Southern touring, like probably in August too.

BP: And then, are you guys planning another set of recordings on the heels of this album?

JR: We are. We're demoing now, and we are working out new songs for the next recording. We love the songwriting process. And since we plan on touring a lot at the end of the year, we're trying to get some writing in now while we are home for a little while.

BP: So you guys don't show any signs of stopping right now, huh, we'll be hearing a lot of The Rogers Sisters?

JR: I hope so! (laughter) I hope so. We're working really hard and we're still making stuff, and we're still really into it, so, I hope so.

BP: And then, uh, one more question. If you guys are going out and playing all these fancy shows in these big halls and stuff, I mean, when you come back to Brooklyn, don't you just want to play a little party in your loft for your mates?

JR: Yeah (laughter)

BP: Do you guys do that at all?

JR: But, uh, sometimes we don't have that luxury. Actually though, the last show we played in New York was fantastic, we played at the Bowery Ballroom, which is, you know, like a little bit bigger of a room than we would normally play. It's not huge, but it's sort of medium sized, and we played to a lot of people that hadn't seen us before in our home town. New York is really so huge, that every time we play, we play for like a whole room of new people, that's really great for us. So they were really enthusiastic, and it was exciting, like they saw us for the first time, so it felt more fun for us too.

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Rogers Sisters, The
song:Freight Elevator
album:Three Fingers (Troubleman Unli…
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