ROO & THE HOWL
- August 2013 -
HAVE A BEER WITH ROO & THE HOWL
The word “roo” derives itself from the old english word for “quiet”, which when combined with “howl” provides a startlingly accurate description of Bekah Wagner, the Colorado songstress behind Roo & The Howl. Presently putting the finishing touches on the material for her debut album (due out early 2014), Roo’s music brings together traditions of indie, folk and Americana.
Initially playing under her own name, Roo had a busy 2012 releasing an EP and playing a slew of shows including an opening act for some of our favorites Ivan & Alyosha (read our interview with the Seattle-based band here) at the Hi Dive in Denver. Recently named by Pigeons and Planes as one of “12 Female Artists You Should Know” alongside fellow artists like Daughter and Laura Mavula, Roo is drawing listeners in with spare, stirring music.
At the end of August, Roo & The Howl took the Midwest by storm with a two week tour, including a date with Kopecky Family Band (who we caught up with earlier this year), a Daytrotter Session in Rock Island, Illinois, and a Vinyl Me, Please-sponsored show at the Elbo Room here in Chicago. We grabbed a beer with Bekah before the gig to chat about her creative process and the meaning behind the band name.
The Show: Vinyl Me Please Presents Roo & The Howl at the Elbo Room with Stephanie Dorman
Drink of Choice: Old fashioned, tequila with lime or a dry red wine
Kristen from A Beer with the Band: How did Roo & The Howl form?
Bekah (Roo) from Roo & The Howl: We were all doing music before. I was performing under my own name but wanted to go a different route and wanted to go by a different name. Roo & The Howl has officially been together the past six months, though some of the music is from previous projects.
Kristen: I love the band name. Where did it come from?
Roo: Roo is special to me because it's my nickname from my family. They called me "Bekah Roo" growing up. I didn't want to do something totally random, so we picked that name and thought it fit us really well.
Kristen: I like it. It's catchy. You're based out of Denver?
Roo: A couple of us are in Denver and then a few are about an hour south.
Kristen: What's your favorite thing about living there?
Roo: I love Denver so much. I love Colorado, and I grew up about an hour away from Denver. The whole state is beautiful. I love the mountains. The food is really good and the people are the best. Really good people.
Kristen: What's your favorite place to play in Denver? Or do you have a favorite place to see a show there?
Roo: Lately I've really been digging The Walnut Room. It's this pizza place and bar. They have the best pizza and they also have a venue. Denver has so many great venues. We just played the Larimer Lounge and the Hi-Dive.
Kristen: Where can people find your music?
Roo: You can find everything on the website. Soundcloud has it up, and Bandcamp does as well. That's probably the easiest way to find us. We just have a couple of songs out right now and we're recording new stuff this winter and will have something released early next year. A full-length album.
Kristen: That's really exciting.
Roo: Yeah, I'm really excited. We're almost done writing it. I did an album a year-and-a-half ago with a producer in town named Michael Rossback, so we're going to work with him again. It will be different, though. We're going to record live with the band. A lot of people have done it and it's kind of old school, but I don't want to play music away from people, separately. I want to play it with the same urgency.
Kristen: What's the writing process been like for the album? Where do you feel like you're drawing inspiration from?
Roo: Content-wise, it's about me and the people around me. It's a lot about getting my own emotional obsessions down on paper. Writing is such a weird thing to do. We were talking about it today on the way into Chicago. The creative process is kind of bizarre: the discipline in learning to write, to become a better writer while also having it be this natural thing...For me, writing is about getting stuff out that I feel like I really need to say. It's not necessarily for other people, but for myself.
Kristen: And you guys are currently touring. How has that been?
Roo: It's been good. We've done three shows and we have another week-and-a-half to go. We're doing a little tour of the Midwest. This is our first bigger thing that we've done, but there will be a lot more coming in the next year.
Kristen: Is this your first time in Chicago or have you been here before?
Roo: I think we've all been to Chicago individually, but this is the first time we're playing together here.
Kristen: One of our staple questions: what's the most un-rock-'n'-roll thing you've done in the past year?
Roo: Well, this is totally embarrassing, but a couple of weeks ago I was really exhausted so I laid on the couch and I watched The Notebook. And I totally cried.
Kristen: It's hard not to. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Roo: That's a hard question. When I got married, I had an older couple tell me, "Ask for what you need always and don't expect that everyone knows what you're thinking, especially your spouse." Ask for what you want and then pretend like you never asked. That definitely saves a lot of communication error.
Kristen: What's next for you guys?
Roo: This fall our guitar player is getting married and our drummer is going to Seattle for a couple of months, so we're kind of spreading out. Basically, we'll just be playing locally for the most part of the fall and after we release the album, we plan on being on the road a lot.