Move over, Katy, there’s a new Perry in town. And like her last-name-sake, nobody could ever accuse Rose Cora Perry of lacking ambition. She is passionate and driven in every way, and in so many positive directions. In her mid-teens she fronted the all-female rock band, HER and took up the guitar at age 16. Her next project, Anti-Hero, played two Warped Tour dates in the US. Now, with the release of her first solo album, Off of the Pages, the tireless artist from London, Ontario, Canada is proving to be an entrepreneur as well. She is using the proceeds of the recording to fund a non-profit she is starting called MusicSaves, which will create “a traveling youth series to teach troubled teens the healing capacity of music and art.”
Rose began classical vocal training at age 4 and studied jazz, show tunes, opera and musical theatre until she was 14. When she was 15, she met the future guitarist for her band HER at a local talent show and started her own record label. Rose also wrote a column for her local paper called “So You Want To Be in a Rock Band,” and is endorsed by several companies including Daisy Rock Girl Guitars, Hot Picks USA and Sfarzo Strings. In her spare time, she does alternative modeling, making her equal parts model and role model. I talked to this energetic and inspirational young woman to find out where she gets her moxy.
Rose Cora Perry
CD: How did you get started playing music?
RCP: My parents would both tell you that I was pretty much singing from the moment I exited the womb, though that’s an obvious exaggeration. Music has been a central part of my life and identity for a great number of years.
CD: Tell me a bit about your band, HER.
RCP: HER was a strong act for what we were—an all girl pop-rock party band kind of deal—but we all had a lot of growing up to do from a musical and maturity stance. In all fairness, we were still all in our teens and the band’s breakup was messy and melodramatic. Despite this, HER prepared me for what was to come next, and I wouldn’t take back any part of those 4 years together because if it weren’t for HER, I would never would have picked up a guitar for the first time. Nor would I have gotten my feet wet learning what it’s like to front a band and be self-represented in the music biz. Because of the crossfire that emerged from the breakup of HER, I made up my mind at 18 never to be in a band again. That lasted maybe 2 months until Anti-Hero’s future guitarist and my songwriting partner came into the picture.
CD: How did Anti-Hero get together?
RCP: Unlike HER, all of the members of Anti-Hero came from fairly well-known bands within the scene, and we were far more dedicated, driven and overall more well-rounded players. We performed at Warped Tour 2 years in a row and were the first Canadian band ever to have music licensed to MTV’s hit dating reality TV show, Next. But again, drama was lurking, waiting for the opportune moment to plague my new band. It came first when our original drummer attempted to foil our entire U. tour by leaving us high and dry. We scrambled to train someone else just days before it began. We managed, but it wasn’t the same. While we continued on for about a year and a half beyond that point, our major label record deal turned out to be a bust. The recording for our second album which was written in its entirety kept getting shelved, and my relationship with my guitarist and songwriting partner (yes, I made the all-too-common mistake of mixing business and pleasure) was seriously on the rocks. We all lost our will to continue moving forward.
CD: Why did you decide to go solo?
RCP: In my former bands, though everyone did make contributions to the songwriting process, the melodies, lyrics and basic chord patterns have always come from me. In addition, I took on all of the management, publicity, booking, promotions and legal responsibilities for both of my acts. In some ways I miss the family dynamic you get from touring with a band. And I definitely miss feeding off of my fellow band mates’ energy onstage. But at this point in my life after 10 years of as a proud D.I.Y. artist, it comes down to the simple fact that I frankly don’t have time for that kind of drama anymore.
CD: Tell me about your “So You Want to Be In A Rock Band” column.
RCP: The impetus behind ‘‘So You Wanna be in a Rock Band?’’ was simply a result of all of the media myths about ‘‘overnight successes” I kept hearing during my Anti-Hero days.
The moment we got signed to a major label, we started getting emails from fans asking when we’d be buying everyone their Ferraris to celebrate. They didn’t get it—just ‘cause we were signed didn’t mean we were suddenly rolling in the dough or that we no longer had to work hard to get decent shows and exposure. It wasn’t just music fans who were under this misconception. The vast majority of musicians we came across were, too. While I never had grand delusions that getting a record deal would suddenly be my saving grace, in all fairness, I did believe that it would make things easier—make it so that we could focus more exclusively on just creating good music. It became very clear to me just how much misinformation there is out there in regards to how the music industry actually functions, and I felt compelled to do something about it.
CD: You are an advocate for so many causes: Feminism, DIY ethics, veganism, living drug-free. Can you talk about them and why they are important to you?
RCP: Each cause I support is for good reason, and because it is something that is dear to me for personal reasons. In terms of why I’m a feminist? Well, being called a ‘‘novelty’ because I’m a female rock musician and having it assumed I was just a groupie at my own headlining shows, I think is enough to offend any female musician. I’m a professional and an artist, and I take my craft very seriously. It shouldn’t matter what genitalia I have. I want to be seen as an artist first and foremost and I don’t feel that this is an unreasonable request. I’ve met a lot of unsavory individuals in this biz who just because they are males and in positions of power feel they can disrespect and act inappropriately towards female players. Men would never have to experience it, and I proudly wear my ‘feminist badge’ because problems like this won’t go away until we start addressing them head on and demanding better.
D.I.Y. Ethics: I’ve always admired and been greatly influenced by the 1970s punk rock movement, especially figures like Joan Jett who are entirely self-made. I haven’t had any handouts as an artist—I’ve built myself into who I am getting bruised, scratched and beaten along the way. While it hasn’t always been fun, and I’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes, knowing that I’ve done this all myself makes everything I’ve achieved that much more satisfying.
Veganism and Being Drug-Free: These final two causes, for me, really go hand-in-hand as they’re both about making positive lifestyle choices. If you want know why I’m vegan, read the book Skinny Bitch, and you’ll likely convert soon afterward, too. As for the drug-free business, both of my parents are award-winning, drug-free athletes, so living a healthy lifestyle is something that has been impressed upon me from the get-go. But most of all, like any musician, I’ve seen far too many rock ’n’ roll tragedies. Drugs are stupid. End of story. And no, they do not make you a better musician.
CD: Why did you get into modeling and what was that like for you?
RCP: Modeling has always been more of a hobby purely based on the fact that I absolutely adore the art of photography and, well, like any little girl at heart, I enjoy dressing up in costumes. I’ve done mostly themed shoots, but because of my sponsors, I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to act as a spokeswoman in various campaigns. There was a time in my life where I was greatly affected by the stereotypical depictions of females we see in the media. I had major self esteem issues, and, to be perfectly honest, hated everything about the way that I looked. It didn’t take long for me to realize that going the conventional route with modeling wouldn’t be very productive for me or my wavering self-image. Alt modeling has allowed me to see and appreciate beauty as diversity.
CD: What is different for you being a solo artist?
RCP: Everything, from being in the studio to being on stage. It’s all me so if I mess up in any capacity, I have to take all the credit. But more than just that, it’s actually been a really empowering experience, thus far. I was and continue to get nervous and apprehensive as this is all new terrain, but I’m excited to see where things may lead. So far, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.
Off Of the Pages is available exclusively through HER Records, at Rose’s live gigs or via her online store: www.herrecords.ca. All proceeds go towards her non-for-profit foundation, MusicSaves.
Check out this video of Rose doing the song “Unpretty” from her late, great band, Anti-Hero.