Rousing Conversation

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Josh Rouse cannot make a dark-sounding record to save his life. His latest offering, Country Mouse, City House, was supposed to contain the musical equivalency of a New England winter day: overcast and cold with a high probability for snow. Instead, the disc sparkles with sunshine, smiling melodies and enough R&B sensibilities to make Berry Gordy chuckle. The prolific Rouse, a Henry James of singer/songwriter pop who relocated to Spain some time back, recently spoke with the Westword about his new disc, his fear of minor chords and his obsession with vintage record production.

You said that with this record, you were aiming more towards a “wintry” record.

Yeah, I tried. It didn’t turn out that way. That was my intention [laughs]. I guess I didn’t use enough minor chords. I started out using a few more minor chords and then I eventually went to majors. Major chords work better in the live situation, I’ve found. You go see a guy or a band and they play a lot of minor songs, everyone just kind of stands there and looks dark and looks really serious. I think I’ve done that before, and it kind of bums you out. You’re like, “Why am I doing this?” But then you kind of get into the major chords, and everyone throws a little grin and they might even move their ass a little bit, and it’s like, “Okay, this is worth traveling all over the world, playing an hour and living out of a suitcase.”

Now, I know that you have a love for the production of records of the ‘60s and ‘70s, kind of the singer-songwriter records. What draws you to those records?

I think they’re just better than the records that come out today. I think they sound better and, you know, it’s pretty obvious, really [chuckles]. I don’t want to say that there aren’t good records, but they’re just, I don’t know, they’re harder to find and they seem to be more underground. As attention spans get shorter and peoples’ patience levels seem to get smaller and smaller as well, it makes for records that aren’t so good. The industry has kind of done that, too. Everybody wants immediate music, and I like music that can actually grow on you and you enjoy more over time, and there were a lot of those records in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Do you think there’s a lack of emotional honesty on a lot of records coming out today?

Everybody wants to be cool now. If you put a good lyric together and you have a since of humor, that’s one thing, but then just being so cynical about everything, it’s just kind of the state of indie rock. It’s fine, but if everyone’s doing it, it’s boring.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.