Saturday 13 April 2013 | Eileen Rose & The Holy Wreck | Little Rabbit Barn
Eileen Rose Giadone was born in Saugus, Massachusetts, a blue collar suburb north of Boston that the city’s many first and second generation Irish and Italian immigrant families called home. With a Sicilian father (Eileen speaks Italian) and an Irish mother, Eileen was second youngest of 3 brothers and 6 sisters. She remembers growing up in a small house which was a former hunter’s cabin – “…3 bedrooms, one bathroom, one phone and LOTS of noise.”
Eileen’s musical education started early. “There was always music on in the house. My mom is a big music fan and, now that I think about it, had pretty eclectic taste: Dean Martin, Irish traditional music, Johnny Cash, Kate Smith, polka music, country, big band… My dad was a great dancer and he and my mom would get dressed up and go dancing every Saturday night at the Moose Lodge. We would have big family cook-outs that always involved my aunts and uncles having a few highballs and sitting around in lawn chairs for hours singing – silly songs, Irish songs, patriotic songs, songs from popular movies – they had a blast. Music looked fun.”
“I was lucky, growing up how and when I did, when radio was still great. We’d ride the bus to school with the radio blaring and on the way you’d hear Bowie, into the Ohio Players, Jessi Colter into Sweet, War into Elton John and wrap it up with a Glen Campbell, Linda Rondstadt… or maybe a little Disco Tex and The Sex-O-Lettes. All that incredible song writing…radio and music was exciting – how could you not want to start a band?”
Inspired to play and sing by her older brother Tony – “He had a real nice voice and touch on that acoustic guitar. Who wrote good songs too and took me out to a couple coffee house shows where, I guess, I got the bug…”- Eileen borrowed his guitar and wrote her first song at the age of 14. “It was predictably about a boy I thought was dreamy…”, she laughs. Around the same time, she discovered Kate Bush, and taught herself to sing by trying to emulate her and started sitting in with local bands here and there. When she finished high school, Eileen went off to college and began to study criminal law. But the inclination to write and sing was too strong, and she quit to pursue her passion. Using just her first name, which is Eileen-Rose ( “Giadone is hard to remember and tough to pronounce”) Eileen started a band and cut her teeth in the Boston music scene. Her first musical venture was a self-released acoustic folk album with her band, Daisy Chain which would eventually grow into her first signed band, Fledgling.
“We did fairly well, for a local band, though not as well as some. Still, I remember walking into Tower Records on Newbury street and seeing a big poster for our record on their wall. Pretty thrilling the first time that sort of thing happens to a musician. Makes you think your songs might actually be REAL songs”.
In 1991, Eileen moved to London and Fledgling signed deal with the now defunct TVT records. The band released one self-title album to great reviews. The label would eventually go bankrupt.
“I finally got that coveted record deal, made an album, went on tour…and learned all that crummy stuff we all learn with our first record deal. Then I had that typical, disheartened, I’m-quitting-this-awful-business phase. But, if you’re a lifer and not a tourist, you rub some dirt on it and keep going.”
In the mid-90s, Eileen split up the band, moved out of the city into an old cottage on a dairy farm in Essex and wrote songs. She started playing solo gigs around London, anywhere that would have her. One night she opened for Larry Love of techno-country mavericks Alabama 3, who was so impressed he offered his band to back her. Maverick Geoff Travis, head of the legendary Rough Trade label, saw one of their first gigs and offered Eileen a deal.
Eileen released 2 albums on Rough Trade and that’s when things really started to happen. Her 2000 debut, “Shine Like It Does”, recorded with members of Alabama 3, had the British press reaching for superlatives like “sensational” (The Sunday Times), “a gem” (The Guardian) and “mesmeric” (Uncut). Time Out concluded that “few debut albums arrive so fully formed, so laden with wisdom, pain, magic and loss”. Songs from the album were featured in a Disney movie and major television shows. The follow up, 2002’s “Long Shot Novena” – which features members of Del Amitri, legendary British punk band The Ruts and sometime Sex Pistol Glen Matlock – was even more rapturously received. The Times found it “stunning”, while Uncut marveled at the “rare power, polish and perception”. During this period, Eileen toured the UK and US with the likes of Ryan Adams, Eddie Reader, Beth Orton, Ron Sexsmith, Frank Black and Tanya Donnelly.
BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME
In 2003, after years of touring, playing and living in the UK, Eileen returned to Boston.
“Everything changed for me after 9/11. It put things in perspective. My parents weren’t getting any younger and I wanted to spend time with them. I just felt I needed to be home.”
Eileen taught herself to play the piano and set to writing her third album, “Come The Storm” over a long, cold winter spent on Martha’s Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod. She played a gig opening for 60‘s legend, Judy Collins who was so taken with her, she released “Come The Storm” on her own label, Wildflower Records. Bloomberg called it “an exceptional album that deserves to make Rose huge.”
“Yeah, but it didn’t!” Eileen laughs, showing a flash of her typical self-deprecating humor.
She next took herself to Detroit, to record an album with producers Al Sutton and Eric Hoegemeyer who’ve worked with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. “At Our Tables” was released in 2008 on UK label, Floating World records. Critics lauded this as her most accomplished to date. By now, Eileen was regularly touring Europe with her band The Holy Wreck and had expanded her loyal fan base to Italy, Germany and Holland.
In late 2008, Eileen moved on again, this time relocating to Nashville, TN:
“My publishing company encouraged me to move here (from Boston) and to work with some of their younger songwriters and artists to help them develop their songwriting. I was quickly (and luckily) offered several weekly residencies on Lower Broadway playing classic country. So, not only have been able to make a good living playing traditional country, but I’ve had a great time working with lots of young artists AND some of the best musicians in the world. Learning and performing all these old songs – countless times – really moved my songwriting forward and deepened my understanding of the craft of classic songwriting and I think the albums I’ve recorded here reflect that.”
Her 2009 album ‘Luna Turista’, recorded with her band The Holy Wreck (“A phrase stolen from my mom, actually. ‘I’ve got to clean up this kitchen it’s a holy wreck!’ – as in this is such as mess it’s BIBLICAL. Always made me laugh.”) reflected the influence of the city in its loose country-rock sound. As with each album before, ‘Luna Turista’ was widely received by critics and fans as her strongest work to date; a rare feat for an artist 4 albums in to her career.
It was then that she began a fast and steady working relationship with the mainstay of The Holy Wreck, guitar hero/multi-instrumentalist, The Legendary Rich Gilbert. “The moniker is tongue in cheek”, admits Eileen, “but he is pretty damn amazing.” He is a fellow Bostonian, best known for playing guitar with much lauded 70‘s/80‘s Boston new wave band Human Sexual Reponse. He later became a member of Frank Black & The Catholics and toured for years with them as well as Tanya Donelly.
“The first time I saw Rich play I was a teenager and I was stunned by his originality and fierceness. We’ve known each other for years and years, watched each other perform but never worked together. As soon as we did, it just clicked for both of us. We come from the same place musically, loving the Pistols, Patsy, the Everlys, Devo, Connie Smithe and Dylan…just the same.”
Rich was living in Nashville when they reconnected and was proud tour guide to the city’s unique musical heritage and thriving artistic community. Eileen found a new family of songwriters and players, (both veteran A-list session stars and young, fresh faced hopefuls) all playing 4 hours shows, all day, all night, in the honky tonks of the city’s famous Lower Broad Street. When she’s not out on the road, she has joined them there playing classic, traditional country music at her own weekly residency shows with her side-project, honky tonk band The Silver Threads. She feels extraordinarily lucky to live in a city where she has the opportunity to perform to a full house every day of the week, then head home with LRG to record her own songs in their own studio, right in the heart of Music City, USA.
Eileen, always the kinetic artist; moving, shifting, changing, growing, has morphed into an authentic, glorious hybrid of honky heroine, Dylan-esque songstress, and road warrior diva. Something you just can’t fake. You have to live it to get there.
She has been hailed as the new Patti Smith/Lucinda Williams/Emmylou Harris/Joni Mitchell and compared to (among others) Bob Dylan, Maria McKee, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, Aimee Mann, David Bowie and even “a one woman mid-period Pink Floyd”. Eileen shrugs it off.
“Regardless of fame and fortune, I’m going to keep writing songs, recording songs and the day I die, I hope I’m late for a gig. But now, with my own label, I can release the songs any time and any where I please, just like the big guys. How I got so lucky, I’ll never know, but I am deeply grateful.”
2019 brought a creative avalanche and a rare opportunity for acclaimed singer-songwriter-musician Eileen Rose. Writing two novels and recording a double album is a hearty year, by anyone’s standard. But the chance to make that album at the historic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Alabama, was something truly extraordinary.
The result, ‘Eileen Rose – Muscle Shoals,’ is slated for an April 2020 release. Produced by Rose herself, it is destined to be a hands-down favorite for long term fans and the surprise of the year for those yet to discover Rose’s extraordinary songcraft and astonishing voice.
Rose’s breakthrough album, 2000’s Shine Like It Does, recorded with country-techno renegades Alabama 3 (responsible for the theme tune to The Sopranos) and co-produced with Jerry Boise (The Beatles, Buena Vista Social Club) was released on seminal label, Rough Trade Records. The newly minted solo artist had the music press reaching for the superlatives. And so it’s been for every Rose album to follow.
These include Rose stand-outs Be Many Gone (2015), Luna Turista (2010), At Our Tables (2008), Come The Storm (2005) which Judy Collins personally offered to release in the US after seeing Rose on stage in Glasgow, and Long Shot Novena (2002), which features members of Del Amitri, legendary British punk band The Ruts and sometime Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.
‘Eileen Rose – Muscle Shoals,’ may be her most accomplished record to date. It includes an “A-side” of new songs that shimmer with the brilliance and confidence of a seasoned songwriter and performer at the top of her game. There is also a bonus “B-side” of Rose’s most beloved tracks, re-recorded in those extraordinary surroundings because Eileen “fell in love with the sound of this band in that room, and I just had to.”
Established in 1969 by legendary Fame Studio session musicians, The Swampers, the iconic studio helped make Muscle Shoals the “Hit Recording Capital of the World.” Though still a working studio, MSSS is so crucial to music history that it’s also a museum. Thousands of music fans the world over come to tour this former casket factory where icons like The Rolling Stones, Linda Rondstadt, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, The Staple Singers, Rod Stewart, Leon Russell, Bob Seger, The Allman Brothers recorded some of their most beloved songs.
A natural fit for Eileen who “has absorbed and oozed so many musical influences throughout her career, that the term ‘Americana’ could have almost been created for her.” (Three Chords and The Truth)
“The studio is primarily a museum now run by a foundation. We had to apply to record there,” Eileen says, “They’ve done an incredible job of preserving the place—it’s downright humbling. The instruments used on records like Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Kodachrome…right there for us to play. I’m in a chair in the control room leaning over the desk, and on the wall is a photo of Mick Jagger in the same spot, recording Wild Horses and Brown Sugar. I used Linda Ronstadt’s headphones in the same vocal booth right next to a photo of her in the same pot. Blew my mind. And the sound of that room is an instrument in itself. Easy to understand why it became a creative destination for so many great artists.”
“This band” is, of course, The Holy Wreck, an extraordinary group of Nashville veterans including guitar master Rich Gilbert (Frank Black, Jack White) on guitar and pedal steel, Chris Machlalan (Human Sexual Response, Haley Thompson King) on bass, and Steve Latanation (Agent Orange, The Legendary Shack Shakers) on drums.
Catch Eileen Rose & The Holy Wreck in Spring 2020 on their ‘Eileen Rose – Muscle Shoals’ tour of Europe with stops in England, Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, and more.
The critics on Eileen Rose:
“Makes you want to roar down the highway with the windows open and a finger on the repeat button.” – Rolling Stone
“The intensity and poeticism of Patti Smith. – The Observer
“SHE KEEPS you guessing, this Eileen. One moment she could be Chrissie Hynde staring you out in black leather, but elsewhere, amid the downhome rockabilly of Wheels Going By, Snake and Big Dog, you’re more inclined to peg her into the Gillian Welch school of roots revival.” – Mojo
“Rose’s songs sidle up and ambush you.” The Sunday Times
“Rose is capable of a kaleidoscope of emotion in the same song, injecting the tracks with a living, breathing reality and often singing like Emmy Lou Harris at her most brooding…shivers the soul” – Americana UK
“Rough-hewn rock’n’roll…music constructed from the heart rather than the head” – The Irish Times
“Like a powder keg of gunpowder just waiting to go off…powerhouse live shows and passionately intense vocal delivery, Eileen does not disappoint.” – Maverick
“Her voice, a tender, tremulous thing – soft and steely, wracked and wrought…this is songcraft of the highest order. Stuff that lingers long and nestles deep.” Time Out
“A gorgeous, clear, invigorating voice …. along with the similarly beguiling Neko Case.” – The Guardian
A feisty Boston singer with Italian and Irish roots … starkly emotive and richly melodic songs in a country-blues style, sung in Rose’s clear and invigorating voice. – Entertainment Ireland
“Coming on like a beguiling hybrid of Patti Smith and Marianne Faithful…Rose’s formidable array of assault weapons: a curling, insinuating voice at once coy and confessional; a natural storyteller’s way with dynamics, and words that stand my themselves as intimate snapshots of family, friendship, and love won, lost, missed, regretted.” – Sunday Times
“With a voice that sounds like a creamy cup of hot chocolate, mixed with a sprinkle of acoustic and electric guitar that resonates through the soul like that first throat-burning sip…full of swagger, resilience, and brilliance.” – Daily Music Guide
For info and tickets: https://www.EileenRose.com