In Conversation with Roses & Revolutions

Vortex Music Magazine

Prior to their opening set for Gin Wigmore at the Wonder Ballroom, Matt Merritt and Alyssa Coco of the band Roses & Revolutions chatted with Vortex about tour, their influences, and what’s to come for them.

Roses & Revolutions outside Wonder Ballroom before their opening set on June 23, 2018. Photo by Emma Davis.Roses & Revolutions outside Wonder Ballroom before their opening set on June 23, 2018. Photo by Emma Davis.Summer had finally hit Portland, and a crowd of people outside the Wonder Ballroom were soaking in the warm weather, getting ready to make their way into the venue for Gin Wigmore’s tour supporting her latest album, Ivory.

Inside the venue, Wigmore and her band wrapped up soundcheck with only a few minutes til doors were to open. This forced the opening band for the night, Roses & Revolutions, to do a quick check of their instruments before the crowds swarmed in. After a quick runthrough, Merritt and Coco made their way outside to meet up with Vortex for a quick conversation before the show began.

Roses & Revolutions have been making music together for over four years now, but their debut EP is only due to drop this summer. They’ve done a lot in those four years though, writing singles and songs that have made their way to MTV, touring with many other established musicians, Wigmore herself included, and finding their niche and inspirations in the scene.

With four years under their belt, Merritt and Coco are ready for the next step. With only a short time before the next rush to the stage began, Vortex and Roses & Revolutions discussed those next steps, and what got them to where they are.

How’s tour been so far? You’re actually just wrapping up, aren’t you?

Alyssa Coco: We are having so much fun! This is our third to last show.

Matt Merritt: We’ve got San Francisco, and then it ends in LA.

Alyssa: Yeah, we’ve been having a blast. I wish I could do this, literally, 365 days a year. Well, actually, 364, because Christmas. We’ll take that off. Just that one day. That’s all we need. [Laughs] But it’s been so fun. We’ve been exploring. We’ve really been taking advantage of every city we’ve been in and the crowds have been insane. Last night in Seattle was unbelievable!

Matt: That was my favorite one by far. People were rowdy and having fun, so we’re hoping that tonight people can match that.

Oh, I have no doubt Portland will top it. So you guys formed in 2014 after being in a larger multi-instrumental band. What was that band and how did Roses & Revolutions form out of it?

Matt: So, we’re both from Rochester. I was playing in an instrumental, jazz funk band. Alyssa was, like, 16 at the time and just doing a lot of vocal stuff. So she started singing for that project and it was fun. We did a lot of shows. But then the two of us started writing a ton of music. So, we formed Roses & Revolutions as a name to write under. We were writing a ton of singer-songwriter music, mainly for TV. Then we started to develop our own sound, and kept the name, and went off and did that.

One thing I found interesting was that you were [Matt] a jazz guitar major and you [Alyssa] were doing some 90s-style pop, yeah?

Alyssa: [Laughs] I was, yeah.

So what brought those styles together? You said you were doing singer-songwriter, but were there still influences of those styles in the music?

Alyssa: Oh, for sure! You’re never gonna lose those influences that you’ve had since you were younger. Like Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Vanessa Carlton. All of those were my inspirations. The harmonies in Backstreet Boys. And Hanson, I was so into. Still am. But yeah, they still come through. Especially with our carefree stuff on stage, just having fun. So yeah, they come through. That’s kind of what brought Matt and I together, was just how much fun we had mixing those influences and seeing what we’d come up with.

So aside from music, you said that TV, movies and books all heavily inspire you in your music. What specific shows or books or movies have you been gaining inspiration from lately?

Matt: It took me a while, but I finished The Stand by Stephen King. I spread it out. We went on vacation last time I started it, then I hadn’t touched it since then.

Roses & Revolutions outside Wonder Ballroom before their opening set on June 23, 2018. Photo by Emma Davis.Roses & Revolutions outside Wonder Ballroom before their opening set on June 23, 2018. Photo by Emma Davis.Alyssa: Mr. Mercedes

Matt: Mr. Mercedes, It, all those. And then we watch pretty much every show on Netflix of Amazon.

Alyssa: Twin Peaks

Matt: Any of those big shows that everybody watches, we watch them all. It’s fun because we live pretty happy lives and we’re pretty happy and upbeat people. We write a lot from our personal experiences, but if you read a book or get caught up in a TV show, it’s a good narrative. Like you watch Breaking Bad, and all of a sudden you feel for Walter White.

Alyssa: Oh, and back to that 90s thing. I’ve been watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch this entire tour.

Matt: [Laughs] Not much inspiration in that.

Alyssa: No, there’s not much inspiration, but I’m loving it. It’s such a comfort. It makes me so nostalgic.

You have a very rootsy sound to you, but it blends really well with modern pop and it has some electronic elements. And you’ve cited artists like HAIM, Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift as influences. For your newest songs, “Get that Feeling” and “Big Bad Wolf,” would you still cite those influences or do you have some new influences that have made their way into the sound?

Alyssa: Definitely some newer ones. We’ve been really more into the alternative world. Billie Eilish and Bishop Briggs are really more in our theme, and St. Vincent.

Matt: There’s a lot of awesome women. We just did a quick tour with K.Flay.

Alyssa: VÉRITÉ. All these women. Gin [Wigmore]. Gin’s awesome. That’s literally what we listen to day in and day out.

Matt: There’s just so much good music, and it changes week by week.

Alyssa: It does change so frequently, but like two of my favorite artists are Bon Iver and Lord Huron. So with them two, that’s where some of our singer-songwriter, rootsy stuff comes from. Plus the alternative.

You just mentioned Gin. Were you a fan of her before the tour?

Alyssa: Yeah, she’s awesome. And she’s like the sweetest person ever, too. Which makes me like her even more.

Matt: Yeah, she and her whole band are so nice.

Since you’re wrapping up, what are you planning after this? Looking at your itinerary, the tour wraps up and then it’s just a question mark.

Alyssa: [Laughs] Yeah, it is a question mark.

Matt: Our first EP comes out at the beginning of August. So that’s the next big thing we know.

Alyssa: Yeah, and we’ve got a festival back at home and some shows back at home for a little bit. And then once we get the EP going, we’ll have some fall stuff. But yeah, just chillin in the summer [Laughs]. Maybe we’ll gain some new inspirations.

Listen to Roses & Revolutions' latest single, “Big Bad Wolf,” below, and look out for their debut EP, due out early next month.

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