“It was more important for me to make an album that I would listen to rather than an album of what people were expecting of me.” Leah Lane of Rosegarden Funeral Party Talks New Album and Tour

For the last six years, Leah Lane has been making a name for herself in the world of goth and post-punk music. As the mastermind of Rosegarden Funeral Party, the band has toured relentlessly and released two full-length albums and two EPs. Their next album, From The Ashes, will be coming out on March 22nd through Young & Cold Records, followed by an extensive North American tour supporting the band Night Club. I sat down with Leah and talked about From The Ashes, the tour, and what keeps her motivated.

My wife introduced me to the music of Rosegarden Funeral Party just over six years ago when they had just released their first EP, The Chopping Block. The release was essential listening to me over the next few months, and through a friend at the time I ended up on a few bills with Rosegarden Funeral Party. Six months later, I was opening for them on tour as well as filling in on bass. I’ve done a couple of tours with them since then, and Leah has become one of my best friends. I was honored when she sent me an early the songs from In The Wake Of Fire in advance and I knew I had to pick her brain about the space that it takes up in the band’s discography.

Tyler King: What was the writing process like for From The Ashes, and what made it different from any other previous Rosegarden album or EP?

Leah Lane: The writing process was different in a lot of ways. Every Rosegarden album has been written in different ways. I think that the album that’s most similar to this one, at least in terms of the writing process, is Martyr. With At The Stake, we wrote all of those songs on the road, the pandemic happened, and we immediately recorded them in the studio. In the case of In The Wake Of Fire, that album was made up of old demos that we reworked, as well as a few songs that we recorded sporadically over the course of a year and a half. For this album, the only songs that were recorded or written a while ago was the single “Almost Heaven” and another song on the album called “Embers,” which was written around the same time. With the exception of those two songs, from December through March, this entire album was created in its entirety. Because of that, the songs are very fresh, they’re very immediate, and that makes them exceptionally emotionally charged. It’s one of the big differences between this album and the last one, In The Wake Of Fire, because I wasn’t too attached to the songs on that album like I’m connected to these ones.

From The Ashes

TK: Was “Almost Heaven” always meant to be on the album? Or was it attached because of the warm reception to it?

LL: I think that it just made sense to put it on the album. I feel like songs have a tendency to get displaced when they’re not put on an album and are just stand-alone singles, and I like to house my songs in a body of work. I felt that “Almost Heaven” had some siblings on the album, and I wanted it to go with those other songs. That songs was recorded kind of flying by the seat of my pants because I wrote the song one night, I fell in love with it, I demoed it with the band at the time, and we went into the studio to record it almost immediately. I was really confident in that song, which was the total opposite of how I felt coming away from In The Wake Of Fire.

TK: On the complete reverse side of that, there’s a song on the album that was recorded incredibly last-minute, after the album was essentially done. What was your decision for that?

LL: The album had just wrapped up recording. We all sat back listening to the finalized album, had a beer, patted ourselves on the back for a job well done. Then I went home that night, sat down at the piano, wrote another one, texted the band and told them, “I need another day in the studio.” And I don’t want to use expletives in an interview, but needless to say the band was not excited! But they are endlessly encouraging and endlessly patient, so we all went in and recorded the song.

The reason why I felt that it needed to be on the record is because the record is about letting go. I’ve written a lot of songs about mourning and the loss of relationships or a loved one, and holding onto them and wearing that heartbreak as a kind of locket of your pain. In the past I had the thought that the best way to honor someone who was no longer in your life is by carrying them with you in everything that you do. And while that may be true for someone who was a positive force in your life, that’s something that can be very poisonous for someone who wasn’t a positive figure. I carried around a lot of heartbreak because I couldn’t let go of a specific person, even though they weren’t a good person, and this album is about recognizing that sometimes love looks like goodbye, which is a line that I’ve been using in various promotional posts for the album on social media. But then I realized that that wasn’t yet a line on the album! [laughs] So I wrote this song, “Love Like Goodbye,” around that sentiment.

It’s very hard for me to let go for various reasons. I’m impatient and I also hold onto things. But this song is a message, both for myself and for the listener, that it’s alright to let go of somebody because they hurt you or because they crossed a boundary with you or because you’re not both in the same place in your lives. Sometimes the best way that you can love somebody, the purest way of loving them, is by walking away. A lot of times we hold onto people selfishly because we want them so badly, but it’s important that we recognize that true love is selfless.

Tyler King & Leah Lane

TK: You mentioned about how this album is about letting go. The songs on Martyr are an almost chronological account about the end of a relationship, At The Stake feels like you’re still pushing back against that break-up, and then you have In The Wake Of Fire, which feels a bit more like you’re taking stock of yourself and also taking accountability. The title From The Ashes is very important to the overall message of the album because there is a sense of coming into your own and, like you said, saying goodbye is a constant theme throughout it. There are repeated lyrical motifs and phrases throughout your entire body of work and also on this album specifically. There’s the running lyrical imagery of fire that’s cropped up in your songs since the song “Once In A While,” and on this album there’s repeated mentions of ghosts and the idea of what “home” is. Are those repeated lyrics something that you do consciously, or are they just happy coincidences, both in terms of this album and also your work as a whole?

LL: I think it’s a little bit of both. Rosegarden is, obviously, extremely autobiographical. All of the songs, with the exception of some from “The Chopping Block,” have all be written within the span of the last six years of my life. So yeah, there’s the theme of rebirth through fire, meaning rebirth through chaos and getting burned and coming out of it purified. There’s also the theme of heaven, and wanting to be accepted into it and be free from pain. The theme of the martyr in particular is because I called myself that. I felt that I would be kind and always look for the best in people and start out trusting with everyone I meet, even though I know I could get hurt in the long run, but having it be a testament to true kindness. And I still believe in that to a certain extent. That is to say, all of these themes have been part of the progression of my general philosophies on my life and how I poetically come to understand the traumatic experiences that I’ve lived through.

It is a little bit conscientious in that I like to keep running themes, not only because I think that defining certain terms and coming back to them to see what they meant for you when you first wrote them is helpful for understanding the progression of a thought process, but I also like to use them artistically as a tool so that the listener can come to understand those terms and lyrical metaphors that I use in my lyrics in their own way. The terms can start to mean something unique to the listener. They can hear a phrase I’ve used a couple of times about a “blue room,” for instance, and that term can begin to mean something completely unique to that individual, and not what it might have meant to me when I wrote “Justification” on At The Stake or “Wait Until Morning” on the new album. It’s like we’re creating our own language between me, the musician, and the individual, the listener.


TK: You mentioned it, but I feel this also ties into the theme of these repeated phrases and terms, all come to a head in the final song on the album, the title track. The first time I listened to it, and you know what I’m about to say…

LL: Yeah! [laughs]

TK: …You sing about how for the last six years you’ve been the martyr and you’ve been at the stake, and I’m wondering about the titles of your releases: The Chopping Block, Martyr, At The Stake, In The Wake Of Fire, and now From The Ashes. You mention this character of the martyr and again, like the lyrical themes, how early on did you come up with this idea of the consistent mental imagery of these titles, and why did you decide to finally mention them explicitly in a song?

LL: You’re going to make me cry!

TK: Why?!

LL: Because this is a very emotional question! And no one’s every asked me these questions before! So, I’m sure that most people that have read any other interviews with me know that Martyr is about the end of a relationship I was in that ended in a very explosive break-up. I started Rosegarden with him, we broke up, and that album was about me coping with the break-up. It was not only my way of sending out my message to the world, and hopefully to him if he ever heard it, but also my own way of healing and processing everything that happened. When I released that album, my thought process was that, these songs helped me and maybe they’ll help other people.

All of that being said, I’ve always liked structure, which might sound weird coming from a creative type. I’ve always liked timelines and structures and deadlines that I set for myself. I like sticking to a plan because it makes me feel that there’s constant forward momentum and progression towards whatever the plan or goal is that I’ve set. After I’m done recording an album, I have to immediately begin plans for shooting a music video or going on tour or do the next album or just something so that there’s something on the horizon, because that’s what keeps me going.

So during the creation of the Martyr album I said to myself, “Okay, I can probably be in a place where I can look back at this and write in a different way about it every year or so.” At the time, I named the first EP The Chopping Block

TK: After “The Cutter” by Echo and the Bunnymen.

LL: Yes! But it was fitting because that came out right after that bandmate I started the band with left. And so the title was symbolic because it was like, “Well, that’s done.” And then Martyr is the story of the martyr, that’s where you get to know that character. And then At The Stake is the martyr being tied to the stake and burned at the stake. In The Wake Of Fire is as the fire has burned them and the fire is coming down. Then you have From The Ashes, and that’s the martyr rising from the ashes like a phoenix.

TK: On a motorcycle.

LL: Yeah, on a motorcycle! [laughs] I always hoped that the life that I foresaw for this character of the martyr would be mirrored in my own life. And by the grace of God, it genuinely has. I cried recording the song “From The Ashes” because I realized that I was actually at a place in my life where things were changing in me enough where I could honestly say that I recorded an album called From The Ashes that I named five years ago.

In The Wake Of Fire

TK: One last question about the album specifically. I would say that, with the exception of “Streetlights” on Martyr, you always tend to end your albums and EPs on an optimistic or hopeful note. Why is that so important to you?

LL: It’s kind of like what I said about making plans for the future to propel you to the next thing. Rosegarden is me telling the world all of my deepest secrets and my deepest pains. A lot of the time, I think that it can come off sounding like, “Well I don’t know if she’s going to be ok.” I think that it’s important for me that I tell everybody that I’m going to be ok, not just for them if they like my music and care about me and the connection that we have with each other and want me to be alright, but also for myself for all of the same reasons. But most importantly, I think that the majority of people who listen to Rosegarden Funeral Party and are fans of the band are people that can directly relate to what I’m talking about, and they see themselves in these situations that are played out in my songs. As they’re listening to these songs and they’re viewing themselves in these dark situations, I think that that could lead someone to a very low place. And I know because there are bands that I listen to that bring me to that place of crying in a fetal position at the bottom of your shower!

So I want to end my albums triumphantly, or at least on a positive and hopeful note, because I want the listener to feel that. I want them to get to the end of the album and be like, “no, I’ve got this.” Whether I’m singing, “As long as I’m still breathing I’ll sing you these songs,” or “I’m happy that I knew you,” or, in the case of “From The Ashes,” it’s, “Something pure and something new, from this day forward no one will hurt you again.” It’s the promises that you make, and if you believe in it enough, even though it might take some time, it does come true.

TK: In a matter of weeks you’re going on tour opening for the band Night Club. Were there any songs on this new album that you wrote with the intention of playing live?

LL: “From The Ashes” was the song where I was like, if you saw a stadium band do this song, this is the one where the lights go black at the end and then fireworks shoot out of the stage! [laughs] With that song I was like, “If we ever make the big time, that’s going to be our stadium rock song.” Also “Almost Heaven” was written with a big intention for live performance. But honestly, with this album I really unchained myself from the mentality of, “How is it going to come across live? Is it goth enough? Is it going to be well-received in the clubs?” I just wanted to make a beautiful album that felt true to me. I really stressed myself out on In The Wake Of Fire by trying to make exactly what people wanted from me, and I went insane making that album. I took almost two years off from making music, and some things happened in my life that gave me a lot of perspective, so when I went back into the studio with a brand new band line-up and a new outlook on life, it was more important for me to make an album that I would listen to rather than an album of what people were expecting of me or an album of songs that would be well-received live.

TK: Most of the time that you go on tour, Rosegarden Funeral Party is the headlining band. You’re the band that people are showing up to see. But this time around, you’re the support act. How do you go about creating a setlist as an opening band versus creating one as the headlining band?

LL: It’s fun when you’re the main draw because you can play songs that you might feel insecure playing in front of a new audience, because you know the people in the crowd are there to see you. I feel more comfortable and free with a headlining setlist. Night Club is a dance goth band, and we have some elements of that. So I picked songs that people can dance to. When I’m going on tour as a support band, I take it seriously. I know that my job as an opener is to get people prepared to see the next band, and I’m excited to do that. I have the utmost respect for Night Club, and I want to give their fans a set that I think they’ll enjoy and will get their fans ready to see the band that they came there to see.

TK: This last question is one that my wife Annie was curious about. You don’t create an online persona to sell your music. You’re incredibly genuine. As someone who has achieved success by essentially just being yourself, what does success look like to you? And do you think that you have achieved success?

LL: The first time that Rosegarden Funeral Party ever went on tour, I felt like I had achieved success. If Rosegarden never got any bigger than it did after that first tour, I would have been happy. And if Rosegarden never got any bigger than it is right now, I would be happy. I am constantly pleasantly surprised that people enjoy my music and that I can make a positive impact on people’s lives doing something that I love. I’ve always felt that way at every single point along the way.

From The Ashes will be released on March 22nd. You will be able to order it digitally through Rosegarden Funeral Party’s Bandcamp page here, or a vinyl pre-order will be made available through Young & Cold Records’ Bandcamp page here.

Buy tickets to see Rosegarden Funeral Party at Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco on April 4th here
Buy tickets to see Rosegarden Funeral Party at Harlow’s in Sacramento on April 5th here