After nearly a decade together, the Wooden Wings have rechristened themselves as Blonde Roses. This provided the group clearer career focus, their new single, “Bullet,” representing the transition. And now, vocalist Molly Portier, guitarist Harold Rosenburg, bassist Albert Moliere, and drummer Anthony Mikhael have begun a new chapter.
“Bullet” made its Soundcloud debut on July 20. It contends as an anthem of brokenhearted dismay, featuring a competent presentation of blues-tinged alternative rock. On August 30, writer Michael Bialas unveiled its accompanying music video via the Huffington Post. By this partnership, the Louisiana quartet is a step further toward wider opportunity. And fortunately for them, that element simply plays a part in their tenacity as a band.
I caught up with Molly to discuss the band’s growth, the thematic direction of their new single and maintaining humility amidst their newfound success.
ME: You’ve recently made your debut as Blonde Roses. I’ve noticed that down home blues-grunge feel stays the same but is given a punchier, more widespread presentation. What sparked this transition?
Molly: We’ve been the Wooden Wings for nine years, and it included another female vocalist [Cherie LeJune] who actually started the band with me when we were 15. The boys had joined a couple years later.[Cherie] decided it was time to move on and pursue other interests. We had wanted to continue as a group, but without her, we weren’t really the Wooden Wings. So at that point, it was a good time to start fresh, press the reset button, and change our name.
ME: With these stylistic similarities intact, is Blonde Roses simply a clean slate with the same personnel—your lifelong friends?
Molly: Yeah! Especially with our new material, we still hold a lot of our roots with the Wooden Wings, but our sound is transforming. “Bullet” is a song that sits on the thin line between The Wooden Wings and Blonde Roses, which is why we chose it as a single. I think it’s a really good transitional song for us. A lot of our newer material definitely gets more bluesy and southern—that kind of territory. It’s still the same group, but we’re just kind of changing things up.
ME: In what ways do you feel you’ve grown as Blonde Roses?
Molly: With the whole transitional period we went through, I think it kicked us into high gear as musicians, you know? Being able to rebrand ourselves and put a new face on, it helped to be more proactive with writing and sparked a lot of creativity in us as a group. We were able to break out of our comfort zone.
Like I’ve said, we’re going in a more bluesy direction. Our guitarist, that’s kind of his style. He’s been a lot more collaborative in the writing process. His type of guitar playing has definitely shown a lot more in our writing, which lent more to that southern bluesy feel. I hope our sound continues to evolve, and I think that’s important as an artist to expand to new territory, for sure.
ME: Was it not only a matter of becoming tighter musicians but the impact of the New Orleans scene as a whole?
Molly: Yeah! Growing up down here, the music culture is very rich. Blues is huge, the jazz scene, and that southern grit you can’t find anywhere else. It’s hard to not be influenced when you’re surrounded by it so much. There are so many incredible musicians down here and there’s so much music coming out of Louisiana. I think that definitely played a role in dabbling a bit more with that—sticking to our Louisiana roots and exploring it some more.
ME: Now let’s talk about the new video for “Bullet”. Back in August, Michael Bialas featured it on the Huffington Post. Was that a case of the site contacting you, or you pursuing them? Either way, congratulations!
Molly: Thank you, I appreciate it!
With the Wooden Wings, we wanted to do everything fully DIY. I don’t think we were a hundred percent pursuing that as something with a career down the line. But with Blonde Roses, we were kind of kicking our butts to actually try and pursue this. We started working to get a good team behind us, and we hooked up with Jen [Appel] at the Catalyst Publicity group who has been absolutely amazing! She reached out to the right people and got them on our side. Mike from the Huffington Post was incredible to work with on that article.
It’s been amazing, you know? It’s a huge shift from what we’re used to doing, and it’s been a strong start, so we’re super blessed.
ME: In the video, you play a femme fatale type who preys on a sleazy man as a means of protecting women who were wronged. Would you consider this a fantasy that some girls may have when thinking of payback for that type of cyclical heartbreak?
Molly: I wouldn’t really say it’s a fantasy. It’s more like the actions she takes, we don’t condone. We wanted to make this fictional mini film to play out with the song—kind of stray away from the typical live performance videos. It’s definitely a sensitive topic, and we’d pulled a lot of inspiration from that Kill Bill character that has to seek revenge.
The director took the lyrics as very dark and cynical. That’s kind of where he brought it, and it’s interesting because that’s not really what I wrote the song about. But I do think that’s the cool thing about music and art in general; people can take something and put their own spin on it. It was cool to take it in that totally different direction. It’s an intense character and plot, and I think we wanted that to match the intensity of the song.
ME: So it was really the director who helped the song realize a sort of unexpected potential?
Molly: Right; and we wanted that. We put the song in his hands and let him create that storyline. When we first met him, we’d sat down at a bar, in Lafayette, where we’d shot the video. We played around with some ideas, kept coming back to that black widow-type character, and he brought it to life. It was an incredible outcome; they were great to work with.
ME: I had thought of the song from a different standpoint, the ‘bullet’ being something you take control of. You have the ability to choose your destiny, and the outcome could go either way (like a “do or die” scenario). Might the song have to do with seizing something that could potentially destroy you?
Molly: Yeah! I love that you said that, and I think it’s a cool contrast between why I wrote that song and the video [John] came up with. It’s exactly what you just said. Originally, I was coming up with a power anthem, like ‘set your own destiny, and ‘it’s up to you to break that suffocating cycle of life and push forward.’
The video’s kind of the opposite. [The character] goes through heartbreak and snaps and chooses to take this destructive route. She gets stuck in another cycle by being destructive, and she’s trying to get out of the cycle of heartbreak. It can go either way for sure, and it’s up to you to choose what path to take.
ME: You also have an upcoming EP in the works. Where will “Bullet” be placed in the EP, from a thematic sense?
Molly: Like I’ve said, I think “Bullet” is the transitional song. It’s important for us to have as sort of a farewell to the Wooden Wings and hello to Blonde Roses because it’s got elements from both of those projects. Not to say the other music on the record won’t have our roots from The Wooden Wings, since, at the end of the day, we’re still the same. But it’s important to have on this EP because this is our first splash into new territory that we’re diving into musically.
ME: Sequence-wise, it might as well be the opening track?
Molly: Right! It tells the story and kind of leads into the other songs that will end up on the EP.
ME: As you progress with these newfound successes, how do you make sure you stay on the same path?
Molly: It’s important as an artist to always be humble. At any moment, the success that you have can be taken from you. We’re just humbled in general to even be where we’re at now.
I think success is subjective. Personally, I feel very successful because I’m happy to be doing what I love. No matter where you go in your music career, or how big you get or small you are, it’s important to feel fulfilled emotionally and physically. That’s what makes us stay humble.
ME: Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Molly: Just stay strong and pave your own path. That’s kind of where we’re at, you know? We’re taking a leap of faith—doing something we love, and not being afraid to do it. It’s super important no matter what you do in life. Always pursue what you love. As cheesy as it sounds, that’s where you find your happiness.
Blonde Roses Socials: