The beauty of Lollapalooza is the wide range of talent present — from world-renowned artists including The Weeknd and Travis Scott to smaller names like DJ Taye and Tash Sultana. Among the 150 groups who were set to perform was female-led rock duo, BONES.
BONES is comprised of English duo Rosie Bones and Carmen Vandenberg — Rosie is the singer and Carmen the guitarist. Since forming, the band has gone on a U.S. tour with just two singles, “Girls Can’t Play Guitar” and “Beautiful is Boring.”
In between sets at Lollapalooza, the duo sat down with The Phoenix to talk inspiration, touring and artistic direction.
How did you two first meet?
Rosie: We met at a blues bar in Camden. Carmen was playing blues, and I was on my own. I think I had broken up with someone, and I was on my own drinking, and she was playing blues on-stage. I went up and was like, “Do you want to make music together?” and she was like, “Yeah, okay.” The next day we got together and jammed.
How did you come up with your band’s name?
Rosie: I chose it.
Carmen: She’s always been Rosie Bones.
Rosie: I thought “Bones” would be really cool, but it’s really hard to Google — which is a slight nightmare, so you have to do “BONES UK.” We like bones. It looks amazing. It’s what we’re all made of, and it kind of makes sense.
As artists, what has been your biggest accomplishment and biggest disappointment?
Rosie: Our biggest accomplishment was our first headline tour in America. This actually answers both questions. It’s our first headline tour in America, right? So we started off touring, and the first gigs were so bad. It wasn’t “bad,” but we had about two people [present].
Carmen: They booked us in massive rooms in cities we’ve never been to.
Rosie: [These were] thousand-capacity venues, and there were like ten people in the room. We were like, “Oh, my God, this is so awful. We’re going to kill ourselves.” Halfway through when we started hitting the venues we’ve played before in cities we’ve been to before, like Denver, the rooms were full and sold-out. It was this weird arch of “This is so awful; I don’t want to make music” to “Oh, my God, this is amazing.”
Carmen: We had to do those shows. They paid for us to get to those cities, but we struggled. It made us stronger for sure. We appreciate everything a lot more after struggling.
What artists have you checked out at Lollapalooza?
Carmen: We’re going to see Jack White and Portugal. The Man [on Sunday].
Rosie: It’s really hard to get to people. You have these plans to see all these bands, and you end up standing backstage. You don’t see as many bands as you want to when you play them because you’re backstage chatting to people that you know.
Carmen: I want to see Tash Sultana today. She’s amazing.
Rosie: Yeah, Carmen’s in love with her.
Who are your top five favorite artists?
Rosie: All my heroes are men. That’s not me being controversial, they just are. [My top artists are] Prince, Randy Neiman, Paul Simon, Steven Tyler, and Bowie.
What is your writing process like?
Rosie: It depends. Some songs, we try to come up with an idea for something it’s gonna be about first. I come up with an idea and hang everything else off of that. The heart of songs [is the idea] and you can work the music to sound like that around it.
You guys also do your own graphics and videos. How is that?
Rosie: Good! Really good. I went to illustration school. It comes to the fact that we’re making art, and we’re making songs, and I want the visuals to support what we’re doing. As soon as you get someone else externally — generally, not always, but a lot of the time — they don’t match up to what you’re trying to do. Part of the project is to have [the graphics] looking beautiful. That’s why I take control of it — because I love doing it. The visuals are so important these days, so it’s got to be cohesive with what you’re talking about. It’s important for me; if I’ve got the skill set to do it, I’ll do it.
Because you do all the creative directing, do you customize your own wardrobes?
Rosie: It all feeds into it, it all has to be cohesive. I invented our symbol, which means victory, partnership and women. It’s Viking symbology. I was trying to find symbols that meant something because I wanted us to have a symbol like Prince did, so I was trying to find things that resonated.
You’ve announced an album is in the works. What can audiences expect from it?
Rosie: We’re releasing a single now. We’re not in a rush to put out an album until the time is right — we’ve got the material for it. We’re releasing a single on the 17th of August, it’s a David Bowie cover version called “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
Carmen: Rosie is making a video for it.
Rosie: I’ll go straight from the airport here to the editing house. It’ll be a classic all-nighter. We’ll probably get a few Red Bulls involved.
You mentioned a tour coming up. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Rosie: We’re away with Stone Temple Pilots for a week and a half and then we have three days off.
Carmen: After that, we have three more shows.
Rosie: Then we have a month off, and we go on tour with Palaye Royale for two months.
Carmen: 64 days.
BONES’ music can be streamed on all platforms.