Caitlin Rose: Country-ish Upstart Reps Mountain Goats, George Jones, Arctic Monkeys

"When anybody asked I'd just shout, 'I write country songs!' like a little asshole. But now, I don't really know what it is. I can't really fit anywhere else, so I just take the corner booth."

Caitlin Rose / Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller
Caitlin Rose / Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller
David Bevan WRITTEN BY
David Bevan

Who: Born in Texas, but raised in Nashville, Caitlin Rose, 25, grew up amid songwriting; her mother, Liz Rose, has helped pen more than a dozen songs for Taylor Swift, including the Grammy-nominated "You Belong With Me." But Caitlin found inspiration in disparate sources. "You know that sick obsession with bands you have when you're a kid? In high school, [for me] it was Mountain Goats and Weezer," she says. "I drew all of their lyrics all over my binders, and when [Mountain Goats'] John [Darnielle] covered "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" by George Jones, I found out that was a country song and went out and got his Greatest Hits record and didn't listen to anything but 650 AM for two years. John Darnielle got me into country music, and out of everything else."

As Country as She Wants to Be: On March 5, ATO Records (home to My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes, and Drive-By Truckers) will release The Stand-In, Rose's sophomore full-length that expands on the sassy, saturnine blend of American roots music that defined 2011’s Own Side Now, an album that garnered comparisons to Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, and even plaudits from indie-rock fans. But Rose claims it's not so easy to classify. "I used to be fast and loose with the term 'country' because I didn't know what else to call my music," she explains. "I still don't. Especially now. It was just me with a guitar, so when anybody asked I'd just shout, ‘I write country songs!’ like a little asshole. But now, I don't really know what it is. I can't really fit anywhere else, so I just take the corner booth."

Cheeky Monkey Quest: In March of 2012, London indie haven Domino Records (home to Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective, and Dirty Projectors) asked Rose to cover two recent Arctic Monkeys songs ("Piledriver Waltz" and "Love Is a Laserquest," from 2011's Suck It and See) for a limited Record Store Day 7-inch single, billed as a pairing of two of their favorite contemporary singers and songwriters. "He probably hates it," Rose says of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, who has yet to provide feedback on her interpretations of his work. "I really love his writing. Even if sometimes I think the references are a little bit cheeky, when you can say 'dandelion and burdock' in a song, you've got something in your brain that works differently from other people's. It's great how outrageous he is with his words. He's mindfuck good."

This Ain't Hollywood, This Is a Small Town: Rose has found herself addicted to ABC’s twangy soap opera Nashville, mostly due to the local connection. "It puts a funny little microscope on certain aspects of the city that I really like," she says. "It's filmed here, so a lot of people that I know keep ending up on the show, which makes for sort of a fun cameo game. But it's wonderful camp and [former Friday Night Lights star] Connie Britton's a fox. I give it an A-plus. The only two shows I watch are Walking Dead and Nashville, but both just went off the air for a couple of months, so I feel like I have to be productive because I'm not sitting around waiting for the next episode of zombies or mainstream country music."

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