Writing Through the Darkness: The Rosebuds Break Up Without Breaking Up

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Published June 6, 2011

 

THE ROSEBUDS’ KELLY CRISP (LEFT) AND IVAN HOWARD.

The Rosebuds’ latest, Loud Planes Fly Low, due out tomorrow, is at once melancholy and optimistic. The 10-track album, their fifth to date, hits an emotional nerve, audibly conveying the evolving and dissolving relationship of the man and woman behind the music. Formerly husband and wife, bandmates Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp have ended their marriage but maintained a working relationship.

The record dances, but it’s dark. Their previous release, Life Like, was tonally more ominous, but Loud Planes is somber in the sense that it doesn’t skirt the ­big stuff—the subjects that matter. As Crisp says, “This record needed to be written.” Bruised but not broken, she and Howard emerged from the studio with a collection of songs that helped catapult them past difficult times. Forever friends, the North Carolina-based twosome still shines, proving their breakup to be bittersweet. Entropy doesn’t always win out.

Crisp recently spent some time discussing Loud Planes and its influences and impact with Interview, and also shared anecdotes from touring in China and what she’s most excited for this summer.

NELL ALK: Given all that’s happened, how has making Loud Planes Fly Low shaped you?

KELLY CRISP: This record needed to be written. We couldn’t have made a different record. We are better people for it. It was emotionally intense, but it was the best recording process we have ever experienced, because it was so honest and so real between us. It was very cathartic. The whole thing was a cleansing experience. I cannot describe to you how much better we feel as people for having gone through the experience of writing this record together.ALK: Wow. And what was the process like, lyric-wise?

CRISP: We share all the responsibilities. It was the two of us in a room together, working on these lyrics. A lot of the lyrics came from either his writing or letters or my writing, but most of it came from writing together.

ALK: You can be heard singing lead in one song, but otherwise just backup. What influenced this decision to scale back vocally?

CRISP: I feel like we did what was the right thing for each song. We did everything we wanted to do. I didn’t feel like I needed to sing the songs to make them mine. Both of us were fully engaged in every part of making the record. I never noticed that I wasn’t singing, because there was so much of me in every song. I think there was so much of me in each song that it didn’t occur to me I needed to sing them. I had more confidence than ever recording this record. I didn’t feel the need to have to be the lead vocalist.

ALK: What’s your favorite track?

CRISP: I think my favorite song is “The Story.” I love the tension. It was the first song we wrote for the record. I feel like it’s the most representative of what I hear when I think about the artwork of the record. I feel like that is, to me, the feeling of the record.

ALK: So why the title Loud Planes Fly Low? It’s a lyric in “Cover Ears,” I know…

CRISP: When we were writing lyrics for “Cover Ears,” it was particularly meaningful. I really can’t describe why. That day seemed, to me, the moment that we were being the most honest. I felt like there was this sentiment conveyed with those lyrics between the two of us that only we could possibly understand. We had a common image whenever we were working on those lyrics, and so I feel like it’s the most personal moment. At the same time, it’s the one that is shared between us. We both had this very inside reaction to those words, but we both had the same reaction. I feel like that was the most intimate moment between us in writing the record.

ALK: That’s heavy, but it’s inspiring, too. So, what about music videos—do you have any lined up?

CRISP: We’re going to do a music video for “Woods.” The concept of the video is Ivan surfing. It’s not an extreme surfing video or anything like that. It’s a simple story about a man doing something that makes sense to him. It’s kind of autobiographical. When Ivan moved to the coast, he started surfing. That gave him something to do every morning to start his day. He started to love it.

ALK: So, Ivan left Raleigh?

CRISP: Ivan moved to the North Carolina coast. I don’t know what he’s going to do next, but I hope he comes back to Raleigh. We’re going to be living on the road together for the next year, so it doesn’t really matter where we live. But, as long as it doesn’t matter where we live, he’s going to live at the beach.

ALK: Do you ever miss him?

CRISP: I miss him a lot. He’s on tour right now with this other band, Gayngs. I’m just, like, “God, when is he coming back?” He’s my best friend. We hang out. I’m looking forward to rehearsing for this tour.

ALK: I bet. What’s it like between you two at this point in time?

CRISP: I feel like Ivan and I are always going to be family. We started being friends when we were 18. We’ve been something to each other for so long. We’ll always be family.

ALK: I can’t say you didn’t make the cutest couple. But I’ll let that go. So, you’re back in Raleigh. No more New York…

CRISP: I only moved there for a year, and then I moved back to North Carolina to get serious about working on music with Ivan. I’m in North Carolina full time, but I keep thinking about New York. I don’t think I’ll ever give up North Carolina as my home, even if I go to New York for some time. I think I’ll always consider North Carolina my home.

ALK: Tell me a bit about the tour.

CRISP: I think that this tour is going to be really long and crazy. There are so many dates, I can’t believe it. We’re gonna do two months. Every day of those two months, I’m going to be on the road, driving eight hours a day and sometimes more, living in a different city every day. It’s going to be some really fun shows. And we’re doing some shows with Bon Iver, which is incredible. We’re lucky to be doing this tour.

ALK: What are you most excited about?

CRISP: I’m going to eat on this tour a lot, so I’m looking forward to all the restaurants. I started thinking of towns in terms of restaurants. I’m thinking about all the great food on tour. I’m hoping to write about it, actually. Food is the main attraction.

ALK: Are there any albums you’re really into right now?

CRISP: I’m really excited about a couple of things. This Bon Iver record is just blowing my mind. I’m really excited to see those guys every night on this tour. I know it’s going to be crazy inspirational. I also really love the Megafaun record, which hasn’t come out yet.

ALK: Tell me something that stands out to you about the past year.

CRISP: We went to China to do a Chinese tour and then we did some dates in Europe. I kinda went crazy in China. It was so foreign and so completely confusing. I didn’t understand what was going on most of the time. I think I totally lost my mind in China. Trying to write this record, coming back from how hard that was, was crazy hard.

ALK: Wow. Is there anything positive you took away from the experience?

CRISP: The one good memory I have, the one thing that kept me sane, was [when] I read Huckleberry Finn out loud to [Ivan] in our hotel room. I was going so out of my mind that I just needed something normal. So, I sat him down in the hotel room and read Huckleberry Finn to him. Hearing myself read it, hearing those words in the room, made me feel so much better. It was an experience that I needed. It kept me from going crazy.

ALK: Thank you for sharing that. Any last words to sum up where you’re at right now? Album out tomorrow, tour starting Friday…

CRISP: I’m really happy with Ivan, and I’m really proud of us as people for making this record together. I feel so great, and I can’t wait to make another record with him.

THE ROSEBUDS’ LOUD PLANES FLY LOW IS OUT TOMORROW; THEY WILL TOUR THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.