Lollapalooza 2018: The Badassery of BONES

Feature photo by Ross Laurence

BONES make it abundantly clear that they are here on their own terms. Never settling for the industry status quo while delivering hard-hitting single after hard-hitting single, the duo have created something strong and lasting all their own.

Photo by David Rice

“We’re not fans of waiting around for things to happen. It’s easy for us to move and do things ourselves.”

Appearing for their first Lollapalooza performance, they set the BMI stage on fire the same way they’ve been setting the stage for their trailblazing musicianship. Carmen is an actual guitar virtuoso, with deep blues roots and appreciation of all the classic guitarists who she’s studied and followed over the years.

I caught up with them before their Saturday performance to talk about their musical journey, and we got along swimmingly. They’re two whiskey-drinking, music-loving, independent badasses. What else could you ask for in an up and coming power duo?

The origins for BONES are about as simple as can be:

“We met at a blues bar in Camden, had a couple whiskeys and started making music that same night or the next day? She’s (Carmen) rad on guitar.” 

And that she is, churning out riffs rooted in blues and shrouded in a chaotic beauty giving BONES a layered, powerful foundation that is far from boring. Citing Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, the kings. She has played at Buddy Guy’s Legends here in Chicago many times, including a set for his birthday this year. 

I mention the cinematic feel to Beautiful is Boring and ask about anything special planned for their set. They show their personality and that they’re not just another couple new kids on the block. They’ve got a fun personality to accompany their edge, a fun side.

Rosie: “We dance in it. Got a little dance routine.”

Carmen: “Some choreography. It’s really fun to do live.”

Their next single is slated to drop on August 17th, a cover for Howard Stern’s David Bowie tribute. They have their own rendition of Bowie’s eternally relevant track  I’m Afraid of Americans. Rosie exclaims“Terrifying, you guys are freaking terrifying! 

Carmen wants to be clear that, “You have to give Bowie justice.”

Rosie elaborates: “You want it to be your own thing. David Bowie is incredible, we want to make sure that it’s fucking amazing but it’s important that we make it our own song. As far as the content of the song, it’s quite relevant right now. We live in LA now and we meet lots of ugly Americans, one really terrifying one. We’re not afraid of most Americans.”

Any information on the debut album you care to share?

“We’re not in a rush to produce an album, we are really focused on singles. When the time comes for an album, we’ll do it.”

When it comes to their original music, BONES do it themselves and do it their way. The DIY/independent route is an intriguing one as artists seek to gain control of their music more and more and take the power from agenda-wielding labels. We are seeing this exchange of power now more than ever, and BONES contribute to the idea exponentially by staying 100% true to themselves and not letting anyone sway their creative direction.

“We’re not interested in putting out a version of what we’re doing. We’ve worked quite hard and we’re quite sure of our vision and not swayed. Everyone’s got their own agenda, and we don’t want to be the second version of someone else. We’ve put in the work to achieve our aesthetic.”

They will be back in Chicago for a show at the Metro in November, and in between now and then they’ll embark on a tour with Stone Temple Pilots on August 18th.”

During their visit to Lollapalooza here in Chicago, they took in the Arctic Monkeys’ set and when I asked about some inspirations of theirs, they were quick to name “Arctic Monkeys, kings of the industry that we’re in, such nice people.”

Rosie has a love for Steven Tyler, and her stage presence can be attributed to such a love. Aerosmith, Prince, Bowie, Paul Simon, Hendrix, and Stevie Ray round out the duo’s influences, paired with Carmen’s aforementioned blues roots, so you get a feel here for a well-rounded, powerful mix of whiskey-soaked, bluesy, rock and roll with a UK-Nine Inch Nails-Sleigh Bells twist. Pay attention to what BONES is up to, and they’ll make sure you enjoy yourself along the way…

When it comes to advice for aspiring musicians, Rosie offers:

“Do it yourself and work. Don’t focus on the destination and enjoy the journey. Stop worrying about where you should be. Fuck all that shit, enjoy everything, and don’t continue stressing. If you’re not enjoying it, stop doing it and go be an accountant.”

Photo by David Rice