Frankie Rose is blazing a trail and leaving no prisoners. Every band she plays in turns to gold. She is the original drummer and part time bassist/vocalist of the wildly popular Vivian Girls. In addition to playing drums in her current band Crystal Stilts, Frankie has a single of her own coming out on Slumberland records in the Fall. I met Frankie around 2004 when she was living on the West Coast and touring with her band at the time Shitstorm. Watching her play then in my living room at The Woodser in Brooklyn was inspirational. Watching her play drums now is jaw dropping. Her drum beats are graceful, poised, innovative, hard-hitting and hard to forget. I caught up with Frankie in Williamsburg Brooklyn right before she took off for a 40 day European tour with Crystal Stilts.
Hometown: San Francisco
Location: New York City
Bands you are drumming in currently: Crystal Stilts
Bands you were drumming for in the past: Vivian Girls, Shitstorm (now Grass Widow)
What you do for a living: Bartendress
Something outstanding about you: I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like.
“I just sat down behind the kit and it was decided that I would be the drummer.” – Frankie Rose
Tom Tom Magazine: Why did you start playing the drums?
Frankie Rose: Well, in my first band no one except the guitar player really knew how to play anything so I just sat down behind the kit and it was decided that I would be the drummer. Still don’t really know how to play actually.
Frankie Rose: I always prefer a simple kit really, just a kick, a snare, a floor tom, one cymbal, and a high hat.
Frankie Rose: Maybe a 64 Slingerland or something.
Tom Tom Magazine: Do you remember how we met (me and you!)?
Frankie Rose: It’s a little fuzzy but i think it was when i first moved to New York and you were putting on a show at your house…But maybe just maybe Shitstorm and Taigaa played together at The Woodser.
Tom Tom Magazine: What was it like drumming for that band (Shitstorm)?
Frankie Rose: It was a beautiful thing… we mostly just laughed a lot. Those people continue to be like my family. I love them.
“…a drummer however is a key player, the drummer brings the party, so to speak.” – Frankie Rose
TTM: What do you do to get better at the drums / Best way to get chops?
FR: Man. I almost never practice playing drums. Thats the truth. I may never get better.
TTM: What is your favorite drum warm up / what do you do to warm up before playing?
FR: I don’t!
TTM: Have you experienced any setbacks as a female drummer?
FR: Not so much.
“I love the physicality of it.” – Frankie Rose
TTM: What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about the drums?
FR: Having stamina.
TTM: What’s your favorite part about playing drums?
FR: I love the physicality of it.
TTM: What do you think the role of the drummer is in a band?
FR: This is a strange question for me because I suppose I don’t really identify as being only a drummer anymore. I often found it difficult to be a drummer in bands where I wrote songs or had a big part in the songwriting process. It can be tricky to hand over something you have written for someone else to play on the guitar…a drummer however is a key player, the drummer brings the party, so to speak.
“I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like.” – Frankie Rose
TTM: What is your songwriting process?
FR: I write all my songs on a little electric guitar with a practice amp or an acoustic. as of late there is an organ in my house so I have been playing that a bunch… I’ll usually record a rough version, then I’ll re-record after everything is worked out.
TTM: Do you play any other instruments? If so, how does that effect your drumming?
FR: I think drumming has made me a much better songwriter. I think you get a sense of timing for things you wouldn’t necessarily get otherwise.
TTM: What’s your favorite part about playing drums?
FR: Its good exercise.
TTM: Who are your favorite drummers?
FR: Paloma from The Raincoats, Jaki Liebezei, and Mo Tucker
TTM: Where do you shop for your drum gear?
FR: I almost never do! But I buy drumsticks at Main Drag most of the time.
TTM: Crystal Stilts has gotten a lot of attention lately…why do you think that is, and how does that feel?
FR: Its really nice to put work into something and have other people appreciate it. What more could you ask for?
TTM: What is the most stressful thing you have overcome at a show and how did you do it?
FR: Oh man…maybe being direct support for TV on the Radio in front of 2000 people. at the time , that was the biggest crowd I had ever played to.
“…drumming has made me a much better songwriter. I think you get a sense of timing for things you wouldn’t necessarily get otherwise.” – Frankie Rose
TTM: Best piece of advice you ever got as a drummer?
FR: Someone once said to me ” why don’t you try hitting the snare and the crash at the same time?” I found that helpful.
TTM: Who are some of your favorite lady drummers right now?
FR: My favorite drummer of the moment is from a band called Grand Ole Party from San Diego. She sings lead vocals and plays the drums. Brilliant.
TTM: Who are some of your favorite bands right now?
FR: Harlem, Dum Dum Girls, Reading Rainbow, Glass Widow, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Sic Alps