Jane Rose & The Deadends to bring their fiery blend of rockabilly and R&B to the UK this winter – words by David West

As a child, Jane Rose saw the Brian Setzer Orchestra rocking on television and knew in that instant that she’d found her calling. “He definitely changed the direction of my life,” says the Jane Rose & The Deadends singer. “I can’t imagine how my life would have been without finding them, and then finding the Stray Cats. From there it snowballed into all the amazing modern rockabilly artists.”

Born in Texas, raised in Ohio, and now based in Nashville, Rose released her debut album Poultricide in 2011, followed by Damaged Goods and Over It, all packed with her original compositions. Rose’s rip-snorting blend of rockabilly and rhythm and blues caught the ear of Gretsch guitars, who signed her as an endorsee in 2019, joining the ranks of such elite players as Setzer, Bo Diddley, Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy. This year, Rose won the Ameripolitan Award for Best Female Rockabilly artist, celebrating her contributions to roots music.

What was it that first inspired you to want to be a musician?

Oh goodness, that is a tough question to give a straight answer to. Music just moves me, it inspires me, it keeps me alive playing it, listening to it, creating it. I wouldn’t say that there was anything that was the number one inspiration. When I was a kid, I would write a lot of poetry and eventually, as I became a teenager, those turned into songs.

What was your introduction to roots and rockabilly music?

Growing up in Kentucky, we listened to a lot of bluegrass music and my dad was a fan of old school rock’n’roll, so I grew up listening to a whole host of 50s and 60s artists. When I finally discovered rockabilly, it was like a mixture of the bluegrass music and 50s rock’n’roll that I grew up listening to. It just clicked and I loved it.

Jane Rose Outside motel facing camera
Image © Pamela Claytor

When did you discover you could sing?

Apparently, it’s always been there. I’ve never had any singing lessons. I just listened to my favourite women singers like Bonnie Raitt, Big Mama Thornton and Ruth Brown, and tried my best to sound like them.

How did you get to grips with the guitar?

I started out playing the violin. I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a child, and he played the violin, so I wanted to. I discovered that accompanying myself was difficult to do on the violin, so I started to teach myself guitar. I got most of the basics from a Mel Bay chord book and then had lessons from local guitar hero Cort Duggins.

How did the band get together? Nashville must be awash with great players!

Oh my, there is definitely a plethora of musicians in this town. The original Deadend Boys were found on Craigslist and through mutual friends. The current line-up has been together about four or five years. We do have a few friends that fill in on some instruments if one of the full-time members can’t make it. I was super excited to have the English Deadends! On our UK tour we had Trevor Coveney on upright bass and Colin Green on electric lead guitar. Trevor is a good friend of Wayne, our drummer. When Wayne used to live in England, he and Trevor played in a band together called Cool Cat Cry. Trevor then introduced us to Colin.

Jane Rose & The Deadends artwork

Is it important to you to create original music and to contribute to the canon?

Oh yes, more so because music is a form of expression and writing and creating is all part of the journey. I like to mix it up a bit. There are some songs that are more traditional, most are more neo-rockabilly with a blues influence.

How does the songwriting work? Do you usually bring a finished tune to the band?

It really varies from song to song. Sometimes I have a full song, start to finish, and we just embellish it with the band. At other times I only have lyrics and sometimes only a melody. For me, songwriting is very organic. It comes to me at random times and I just take notes until I’m ready to sit down and devote more time to finishing the song.

Jane Rose sat in chair with guitar
Image © Pamela Claytor

Was there anything you learned from making your 2011 debut album, Poultricide, that informed how you approached 2014’s Damaged Goods and 2020’s Over it?

Absolutely! Recording Poultricide was only the second time I had ever been in a studio. You get more relaxed and feel more at home. You learn what you like, what you didn’t like, and what you wish you would have done. Everything is recorded live. We like to get the organic version of the song – no drum tracks here. Usually, we overdub my vocals just so that I can focus on them.

Do you always think of how a song will go across live? Is everything road-tested in front of an audience before you record it?

Our latest singles are not road-tested, so to speak. We like to have a completely new surprise for people. Our other albums were recorded differently, we played them quite a bit on the road before going into the studio. But I like the idea of surprising people with a brand new song that they’ve never heard.

What are your favourites to play live?

That’s like asking to pick a favourite child! Every song is individual and different in its own right and has its own story. I love watching the audience react to the songs and take from it what means the most to them. It means the absolute world to see them singing along as well. Songs like Bad Lil’ Betty, Hot Rod Daddy, Bitten and Queen Bee always put a smile on my face to see people dancing to them.

Jane Rose seated and smiling
Image © Pamela Claytor

What sort of venues do you play? Do you have a typical audience that comes to your live shows?

We will play any and every venue. I’ve played concert halls, theatres, wine bars, speakeasies, biker clubs, car shows… There’s not really a typical audience, and to my mind rockabilly is a genre that’s not well known but once people hear it, they love it. I don’t limit myself to where we play, I want everybody to hear it, experience it, and have fun.

What did it mean to you to win the Ameripolitan Award for Best Rockabilly Female this year?

It was a surprise. I was not expecting to win. It really meant a lot. There’s a point in every artist’s life where they wonder if what they do really matters, if the sacrifice is really worth it and people actually care. What that award told me was ‘Yes’ to all those questions. People do care, people are listening, and people enjoy what they hear. That absolutely means the world to me. It’s truly an honour to win an award that so many amazing artists before me have won – to be grouped in that category is mind-blowing. I carry that honour with great pride and wave the Ameripolitan flag anytime I can. Dale Watson and Celine Lee have done an amazing job shining the light on the artists that some people would never have discovered. The publicity from being a part of the Ameripolitan Awards has definitely increased the public’s knowledge of us.

Jane Rose Outside facing camera
Image © Pamela Claytor

What have been some of the real highlights of life with Jane Rose & The Deadends?

Everything from travelling the country here in the United States and getting the opportunity to come over to the UK. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to top all of these amazing things that have been happening. Every year seems to bring fun new opportunities. Making new friends and meeting some incredible musicians. This year we had the honour of opening the car show stage at Viva Las Vegas, and, of course, the Ameripolitan Award was a highlight.

What does the year ahead  look like for Jane Rose & The Deadends?

World domination. Just kidding, but in all honesty, I would love to travel to more countries and keep expanding the Jane Rose & The Deadends brand, play more and more shows and keep rocking new tunes. We just released a brand new single called New Love and have plans to release a 45RPM record. We try to keep the new music coming!

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