Perth-born Rose Carleo has delivered a rock’n’roll tour de force with her third album, Time Is Now. SHANE PINNEGAR discovers a talented singer who is ready to rock after a couple of heavily country music-leaning records.
Boasting a classic Aussie rock sound courtesy of producer Mark Opitz – a man whose CV boasts names such as Divinyls, The Angels, Cold Chisel, INXS, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and many more – Rose Carleo’s new album, Time Is Now, doesn’t hold back on the rocking riffs, nor on the powerhouse vocals of the singer herself.
“I’ve always been a rock chick,” exclaims Carleo. “I suppose the brief for this album was to write rocking stuff with a good beat. I grew up listening to a lot of country music but also a lot of rock stuff, Aussie rock stuff. There’s nothing better than when you see someone tapping their foot to your song or even yourself when you’re at a concert or something just being able to feel the groove. I wanted to write four-on-the-floor stuff but I still wanted songs with substance, with good stories or messages in them.”
Growing up in Perth Carleo was influenced by everthing “as far fetched as Emmylou Harris to AC/DC – and there’s a lot in between. I suppose Buckcherry is another favourite of mine so that was probably that kind of vibe I had in mind to a degree. Also, a little bit of that bluesier influence such as the Black Crowes, another favourite who have had a big influence on me. The rest fell into place, I suppose. It just sorta came naturally.”
Many of those diverse influences came from Carleo’s mum, a country music fan who promoted gigs and fomented a scene in Perth when Carleo was a pre-teen.
“She was into music – just a huge music lover and appreciator,” recalls Carleo fondly. “Mum started a couple of clubs just to help people along. She enjoyed going to the gigs and didn’t want to see them end so she said, ‘oh, I’m just going to start a club so there’s a gig every week’.
“She was a big music appreciator and it was because of her that I first got up on stage – I got dared to get up on stage one night at the club when I was 13. I’d done my homework so I was allowed to go – it was actually at the old Dianella Hotel. They called me up – I looked across the table at Mum and said, ‘I’m not getting up there, you’re crazy’. She said, ‘I dare you’, and that was it, I was up like a shot. It was all good, so up there, it all began!”
Carleo eventually left Perth about nine years ago, first for Brisbane, and now the mountains outside of Sydney, where she met musical and life partner, Rogue Sharks guitarist Mick Adkins, who also plays on the album.
“It was the right time for me to move,” she explains. “I think I had to be over here, not only for some of the music stuff but also to have that life experience to bring me to this point now, if that makes sense?”
Time Is Now is extremely honest and brave lyrically, tackling such thorny subjects as betrayals in relationships and the music business, and on more than one song, standing up for yourself and seizing the day. Carleo says she’s a pretty open and honest person at the best of times.
“On my two previous albums I did a little bit of that. With this third album, the older you get you just kind of… it’s not that you don’t care, but you just go, ‘whatever’. We’re all the same, we really are. We go through different things. I think if someone can learn from me documenting my experience or talking about something, I think that’s a really cool thing to be able to do for someone. I thought, ‘I’m just going to be myself and say what I want to say and be honest and open about it’. I think people pick up on that and they appreciate it.”