Originally published in ‘zine issue #23, 2000
Rachel Rosen is one of the guitar players for the Brooklyn, New York-based hardcore band Indecision. Below she obligingly answered some questions I had for her.
D.U.: How did you become interested in picking up a musical instrument?
Rachel: When I was 13, a friend of mine got me into U2 and I was in love with the bass player, Adam Clayton, so I decided that I was going to play bass too. But my parents wouldn’t let me buy one, so all I had was this classical guitar that I would play along to the bass lines with. Finally, my parents let me buy a bass, and from then on, I was hooked.
How did you come to be in the band?
I first heard the band in 1995 when I used to do this radio show. I had them come play on the show in 1996, and then I came on tour with them and sold their merchandise. I always bugged them about letting me play second guitar for the band. Finally in 1997 they gave in, and I [joined] the band right before they did their first European tour.
Obviously, being a woman in a hardcore band you are member of a minority in the hardcore scene. Whenever you play, do some guys and/or girls take more of an interest in you than they would otherwise, based solely on their not being used to seeing a girl playing this type of music, regardless of the quality of the band’s actual performance?
I think that the fact that I am in the band definitely sets us apart from other bands, but I don’t think that it makes anyone take more of an interest. I can’t see anyone liking us just because I play guitar in the band. The music still has to be good. On the other hand, I have noticed that all-girl bands seem to be able to get away with not being so great musically, simply because they are girls. For example, if they dress sexy enough, then the audience probably won’t be listening to the music and therefore they don’t have to have good songs.
Do you feel, or does anyone make you feel, like you have some sort of real or imagined obligation to your fans as sort of representing women in music on some level, if that makes any sense?
I never feel like I have an obligation to anyone. There have been girls who tell me how happy they are to see a girl in a band and that they wish they could do it too, but I never consider myself representing women.
Is there any pressure in your band to be as “brutal” on stage as some of the other guys in the band might be, coming from the other members or yourself?
Indecision has never really put pressure on me to be “brutal” on stage. Bands that I played in before definitely have, though. All I would ever hear was, “You never move on stage” or “All you do is stand there,” and that used to piss me off so much. I knew that I wasn’t just standing there. Maybe I wasn’t going insane, but to me it’s just as important to be able to play the songs well live as it is to be going nuts. So until I found a happy medium between the two, I was a lot more reserved. But with Indecision I’ve become really comfortable playing the songs [and] I can let go more, so they don’t really say anything to me.
How much of a contribution musically do you have in general on one of your records?
I come up with guitar parts sometimes that get used, and I contribute a lot to how a song is arranged and stuff.
Let’s say hypothetically you write material for a song and it isn’t used. Is it because it’s deemed not appropriate for Indecision?
There’s been a lot of stuff that I’ve written that hasn’t been used. Since I joined the band later, they already had a set way that they wrote songs. So when I joined the band I really wanted to write stuff, but I think it was hard for Justin [Brannan, the other guitar player] to give up complete control of everything and have another guitar player writing stuff, and my writing style is pretty different from Justin’s. So writing Most Precious Blood, the first album I played on, was like a nightmare, because I felt like nothing of mine was used, and what stuff was used was [included] after a lot of fighting about it. I was so upset at that time. But on the past two releases things have definitely gotten a lot better. Justin has relaxed a little bit and I’ve gotten better at writing, so when I do come up with stuff, it usually gets used. And now I concentrate a lot more on writing other guitar parts based on parts that Justin has written, because it really adds a lot to a song.
What is your opinion of moshing at a show you go to see?
I don’t usually mind it. I stand in the back and stay out of the way so I can acutally watch the band, or if I can swing it, I try to stand on the side of the stage somehow. That’s always the best. At our own shows we just try to tell people to watch out for each other and be careful, but there’s always the occasional fight.
Is there violence at an average Indecision show that creates problems with putting on a good show with you personally, i.e., the mosh pit?
I’ve never really been in danger at one of our shows. I’ve been pushed out of the way by people jumping off the stage, and I’ve been knocked over by a crowd of people, but I’m more in danger from the other bandmembers, mainly the bass player. He runs back and forth on the stage and never looks where he’s going. He doesn’t wear [his glasses] on stage so he can’t even see. Once he hit my fret hand while I was playing, and my fingers swelled up. It hurt so much. And the singer and I have definitely had our share of collisions, but he always seems to get more hurt than I do.
Indecision’s latest LP is released on MIA Records and is entitled Release the Cure. Contact the band at www.mostpreciousblood.com. ■
Photo: Rachel Rosen performing, from the band’s website (by Danielle Dombrowski)