Rosalie Cunningham is an incredibly interesting human being and picking her mind about the power of rock and roll was an honor. The story she told at the end though was a highlight… a truly magical experience that but rarely foisted upon us by the gods of rock and roll.
Rosalie: We hung out for a while in Central Park so I’m a bit tired.
Is this your first time in New York?
Rosalie: Yes, first time with Purson. I was here twice before though – once with my first band and once when I did session guitar with another band.
How does it feel to be on the road with the most happening band in metal?
Rosalie: It’s pretty exciting. It’s kind of the perfect band for us to be going on the road with right now. Even though it’s quite different I think the crowd is enjoying.
You’re very much a part of this return of rock and roll…
Rosalie: Definitely moreso than there was before. We’re not really part of a scene and I don’t think there’s anyone doing what we’re doing but there’s a general shift towards transitional rock and roll. I think people are bored of the trick and just want to hear music.
What triggered that boredom?
Rosalie: It happens with everything doesn’t it? Music technology went as far as it could go without improving music so it’s best to just get a guitar and do it!
So in the States we’ve been talking a lot about sexism in rock and metal – to what degree does that impact you?
Rosalie: Not as much as it used to. It’s shifted even within my career. When I started I was in a crappy all girl band and it was pretty bad but now I barely sense it. With this I don’t feel treated that way.
What sparked that change for you?
Rosalie: More women in music which is always a good thing. It’s not a novelty anymore. I still get it from people who don’t know me. Like when I go to a guitar shop and ask to try a guitar they are overly helpful and kind of condescending because they haven’t seen me play. When people know what I’m about they don’t doubt me.
I don’t get offended by it though. It’s just the way the world is and a lot of people are very respectful – people are going to be idiots.
You mentioned being a session guitarist – what’s your musical background like?
Rosalie: I’ve been playing all my life. I did session work for a while but it wasn’t for me – it was pretty soul destroying, it was good money but I hated it.
Who were you doing it with?
Rosalie: I don’t want to say. You can find videos on the internet but it’s really embarrassing. I did a few TV shows like Jay Leno.
To what extent do your connections in the pop world help you?
Rosalie: None whatsoever. It’s a different world. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. That was just a job and this is a career.
Is Purson your full time thing?
Rosalie: Yeah. I have a side project and one or two of the others do too – but we’re on the road so much we don’t really have much time to spare. Every now and then when I’m off for a week I’ll record some stuff.
I really like your aesthetic… what’s the symbolism of the necklace?
Rosalie: There isn’t any really! It has stars so I guess… space…
I’m not sure how to describe the rest of your attire but is it meant to reflect a hippy vibe in the music?
Rosalie: To some degree. I just enjoy dressing like this. I made the pants. That period of fashion and music is something I admire and try and recreate. We just really love dressing like that. People stop us for photographs on the street which is pretty funny.
Do you make a lot of your own clothing?
Rosalie: Yes. If I want something I’ll just make it. I paint some of the artwork too because I just like to get things done.
So you have a sort of artistic blessing?
Rosalie: I guess so. Not in any one way and I’m not saying that I’m good at any of them but I like to try!
Have you always been an a professional musician?
Rosalie: Pretty much. When I left school at 16 I left to London to be a professional musician and got a gig straight away. Then I joined a band, ended up stealing the bass player to start another band and we got signed on our second gig. So from there on it was pretty much… I’ve never made much money from it but enough to get on by.
Well you can live in London…
Rosalie: I live just outside of London now since we were priced about but it’s definitely good. We all grew up there which is cool.
Does that sort of reflect returning to your roots?
Rosalie: Sort of. Londons’ cool but it doesn’t have a lot of space. Life is too fast and too expensive. I live on my own I like my own space I live by the sea I like to have breathing room.
I want you to finish this sentence for me “I’ve never told this story and probably shouldn’t but…”
Rosalie: We were kidnapped once on tour in Belgium. Our van broke down on Halloween in the middle of a tour. We were picked up by the Belgian AAA and they drove us for three hours and we were like “No way the garage is this far away!” And they locked us in a compound and they said they wanted five thousand Euros and the van was worth about two thousand. They weren’t letting us go. They just left us there over night. Eventually we found a place in the compound where one of us had phone signal and we called the police. We had hardly any battery. They had fled because we didn’t have the money. I don’t know what they thought we were going to do.
Then when we called the police they said they would come help us. But then we realized we had loads of mushrooms on us since we had just come from Amsterdam. So we were like “They’re going to be a couple hours” because the police had to come from the UK because the Belgian police wouldn’t help. I don’t know what’s up with that country… but the UK police were like 5 hours away so we had time to trip and it was a large amount so we were tripping balls. And we smashed up the place then. We found a crowbar and destroyed that garage.
We quit the tour after that because our van was destroyed and it was a shit tour.
Do psychedelics impact you a lot?
Rosalie: Yes. The next album is loosely a concept album based on the trip experience. It’s not super linear but neither is a trip.
What do you love so much about music?
Rosalie: That it allows me to be in touch with myself and be praised for it and do it as a job. Not just my music either – I’m a massive fan. It’s kind of my entire life. I wouldn’t know what I was without it. One time that occurred to me while I was tripping I was like “What am I without music?” and it was the most hollow feeling I’ve ever felt.
Any final words of wisdom?
Rosalie: Don’t do drugs!