For most, the prospect of spending more than two months on a road trip with an ex is a living nightmare. The Rosebuds, however, aren’t letting a still-fresh divorce get in the way of their touring plans.
“We’ve been really happy on this tour,” gushes singer and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Crisp, answering the Georgia Straight’s phone call from the van as the band drives through the California desert. “We’ve had a lot of really good band bonding experiences.”
Her positive outlook is admirable. After all, she split from her husband, Rosebuds cofounder Ivan Howard, just two years ago. Much of the Raleigh, North Carolina–based group’s latest album, Loud Planes Fly Low, addresses the couple’s crumbling relationship.
“I can’t even explain the depths of how therapeutic it was for us to record this record,” Crisp says. She goes on to explain that she and Howard penned the songs together during a one-on-one writing session. “Even though it was an intense process, it was a really good process,” she reflects. “It was scary at first, but I felt like it was necessary, so we stuck with it, and I’m glad we did.”
There’s no mistaking the heartbreak that went into writing the album’s 10 songs. “Come Visit Me” evokes Fleetwood Mac at its most confessional, with a steady soft-rock groove laying the foundation for Crisp’s wounded chronicle of singledom: “I want to feel/Something way out here/I need something to happen now/Even if it fucks me up.” The icy acoustic ballad “Without a Focus” is similarly forthright, as Howard croons, “We overlooked it every day/A thing of beauty, it just went away.”
Despite the deeply personal implications of these lyrics, Crisp doesn’t think of Loud Planes Fly Low as an autobiographical album. “Each song feels, to me, like a snapshot of a time or a sentiment that we needed to explore for whatever reason,” she offers. “It’s not really about people. It’s not about Kelly and Ivan. It’s more just about feelings that we as humans are experiencing. “
Certainly, almost anyone can relate to a breakup lament like “Worthwhile”, a stark acoustic cut that’s devastatingly matter-of-fact. There’s a faint trace of a quiver in Howard’s voice as he sings, “We could tell the truth/About the fragile me and you/All I want is to make this all worthwhile.”
Having bared all during the writing sessions, the Rosebuds are now faced with the challenge of revisiting their personal struggles in front of audiences across the continent. Performing the songs live, Crisp says, is proving to be just as cathartic as the initial creative process was. “To sing these lyrics and play these songs every night is therapeutic again in a new and different way,” she explains. “It can be sometimes emotional, but it’s something we are appreciative of instead of afraid of.”
Despite the ongoing challenges of being in a band with her ex-spouse, Crisp believes that the future is brighter than ever for the Rosebuds. “We both have the feeling of being clean,” she says, the relief audible in her voice. “I’m really proud of us as people for making this together.”
The Rosebuds play the Media Club on Tuesday (July 12).