By any other name
The Gina Rose Band
Reno is a big enough town that there are many different kinds of musicians here, but it’s small enough that everybody knows people from different parts of the music community, and sometimes that leads to unusual collaborations—like a metal rhythm section backing up a coffee shop troubadour.
Gina Rose Waller is a young singer-songwriter. She has a gorgeous, melancholy alto voice and a decent knack for writing memorable, folksy, Western tunes. She can pull off the solo girl-with-an-acoustic-guitar thing as well as just about anybody, but paired with a rocking rhythm section and playing her big open chords on a slightly distorted electric guitar, her songs really take off.
Waller, Tyrus Legg and John Bigby, all teenagers, are the Gina Rose Band. Waller sings and plays guitar. Legg is the drummer, and Bigby, the bass player. At first glance, the bassist and drummer seem like they must belong to a different band than Waller. Bigby has long blond hair and likes to wear corpse paint onstage. Legg wears Iron Maiden T-shirts. Bigby plays a five-string bass, and Legg uses a double-bass pedal. Those pieces of equipment are considered superfluous in just about every genre besides heavy metal—and in fact, Legg and Bigby also play in two metal-influenced local bands, Idol Smasher and Victims of the Cave.
In the Gina Rose Band, the two metalheads play very tasteful support, providing accompaniment that rarely showcases their technical chops but instead simply enhances Waller’s songs. They clearly have the skills to play technically demanding metal, but in the Gina Rose Band, those skills are applied to a simpler, more unusual—almost unclassifiable—style of music.
Waller is a confident singer who can sing comfortably in a variety of styles, including down in the tenor range. Her voice sounds sad, but also oddly comforting. She writes personal songs with lyrics that are either wise-beyond-her-years or grew-up-too-fast, or both, depending on your perspective. “Is This What You Call Love,” for example, is about domestic abuse.
Even in their full band versions, the songs still retain some of the flavor of the solitary songwriter.
“When I first started, I was just a bedroom rocker,” said Waller. “It’s good when I play by myself, but when I play with them, it’s like every element of music I like.”
She’s only been writing songs for a year-and-a-half, but she’s been playing guitar and singing for longer. She learned how to play guitar when she was 8 years old. More recently, she started playing cover songs at coffee shop open-mic nights, and decided that if she was going to play shows, she ought to start writing tunes.
“I got really good feedback from other people and that motivated me to write more songs,” she said.
The Gina Rose Band’s debut album, Desatoya, was just released digitally on the band’s BandCamp website. It was recorded locally with Rick Spagnola of Dogwater Studios and released by Reno label Damn Deal Done Records, with plans to press vinyl and CDs.
The album is diverse—with solo acoustic songs and Crazy Horse-style rockers. The album title refers to a Nevada mountain range, and the title track is a post-rock instrumental in the vein of Explosions in the Sky—but with a distinctly Western flavor.
“When we were trying to put this into a genre, we didn’t really know if we could put it under indie rock or Americana or rock ’n’ roll or what it was,” said Waller.
The Gina Rose Band can’t be easily pigeonholed into any single genre, but it’s the sort of exciting, weird hybrid band that’s recognizably from Northern Nevada.