The Rogers Sisters
By Alexander Laurence
Rogers Sisters started out in New York City four years ago.
They got caught up in the Williamsburg media craze. They
opened for cool new bands like Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Soon they took their act over to Europe and caused a buzz
internationally. But the real story starts in Williamsburg.
This unique band was formed by Detroit-born scene veterans
Jennifer Rogers (Vocals/Guitar) and Laura Rogers (Drums/Vocals).
I had met Laura Rogers years before in the East Village
before all the Williamsburg hype began. At some point they
met Baltimore transplant Miyuki Furtado (Vocals/Bass) and
soon formed the band. Their music was intense, fun, and
unlike anyone. They are good looking and charismatic.
Their first album, Purely Evil, came out in early
2003. They set out on some of their first tours. They also
played with some of their heroes like ESG, The Fall, and
Mission of Burma. The band spent much of last year touring
the U.S. and England, Germany and Scandinavia before returning
to the studio last fall to work on Three Fingers
with producer Tim Barnes. This is the record fans have been
waiting for. Live, The Rogers Sisters are a dynamic band.
I got to talk with them during their short tour with The
Gossip. They are having a record release party at CBGB's
on August 14th. Definitely check them out for yourself.
Jennifer and Laura started a bar in Williamsburg called
Daddy's (435 Graham Avenue), a FREEwilliamsburg favorite.
by Danna Kinsky
AL: Did you play in bands before?
Jennifer: I came to New York to play in a band. We were
in a bunch of different bands. Miyuki was probably in the
most eclectic bands.
Miyuki: I was in a bunch of bands in Baltimore. I play everything
from Power Pop to Polka bands. We played some Klezmer music.
We soon broke up.
AL: How long have you played together?
Laura: We started about four and a half years ago in Williamsburg.
Jennifer: I started writing some songs. I was going to
play a party for a friend. It was a casual thing. We got
the band together really fast. At first we played a lot
of cover songs. We were doing what we thought nobody else
was doing. That's what we wanted to do. After the course
of a year, we discovered that there were several other bands
doing similar things. We started writing more original songs.
AL: I left New York City for a few months, and came back
at the end of 2000, and there seemed like there were a lot
of new bands starting.
Laura: It was cool. Some of our first shows were at the
bar Enid's. We played with a Fall cover band. It was fun.
People were just playing fun music that we all wanted to
play but never did because we were trying to be too serious
in the 1990s.
AL: You played a Cure song early on.
Jennifer: "Object" was a b-side on our first
single. We recorded it at the same time as our first album.
It just ended up being a b-side. It was just one of the
cover songs we did back then. We did a lot of covers.
AL: Like what?
Laura: Irma Thomas. We did a Hank Williams cover for someone's
Jennifer: We did a lot of soul cover. We did a lot of new
wave songs. We did a song by The Buzzcocks. We did a Ramones
AL: Did y the Northern Soul stuff go over everyone's head?
Laura: They loved it. It's party music.
Miyuki: We did a song by The Zombies. Some songs are fun
Jennifer: People wanted to dance. They were tired of that
AL: What were some other places you played in Williamsburg?
by Danna Kinsky
Jennifer: Midnight Motion. We played at this Italian Social
Club on Lorimer Street. This guy Sandy Gordon somehow finagled
his way in. It was where old Italian dudes hung out. They
were excited because they were making money. It was really
wild. It was in the basement of some guy's house.
AL: I saw some shows at Rubulad and all over Williamsburg.
There was a sense of experimentation back then.
Laura: There was a lot of puppet shows. That was the sort
of environment that we started in. We weren't interested
in being a career musician. We were going to a party so
we thought we would do something funny.
AL: When I first came to New York, nobody would ever come
to Williamsburg if they didn't live there. Then there were
articles in the newspapers and magazines every year after
1998 saying that Williamsburg is the new hip place.
Jennifer: Now they move to New York just to live in Williamsburg.
I heard about someone who found a place in Soho because
it was cheaper than Williamsburg.
AL: In 2002, New York Magazine did an article about all
the happening bands in NYC. It was something like "These
are the twenty bands that you should check out." They
were Interpol, Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rogers Sisters, and
most of the bands that we associated with NYC in the past
few years. Did that help?
Laura: Sure. There was a blurb in Rolling Stone Magazine.
There was a write up in Time Out. That was the third article
that came out on us. We got a lot more attention from people
in the business after that.
AL: New York Magazine did a similar article the next year
but most of the bands turned out to be lousy. I guess that
The Star Spangles were in one of those articles. They turned
out to be horrible.
Laura: We got in a fight with Star Spangles at Mighty Robot.
They said that their mother died, so they wanted to go on
before us. Another time they made some other excuse. But
it made us play so much better because we were so mad.
AL: I met The Star Spangles when they first moved to New
Laura: Last time I heard they were playing at Sin-é
during the middle of the week. I don't think that they are
playing big venues.
AL: Nobody has heard of them outside of New York.
Jennifer: In every bad review, if people don't like your
record, they compare it to The Star Spangles. It's embarrassing.
AL: Who else have you played with?
Laura: We played with The Datsuns. We have played with
The Sightings. There is a local band called Cause Commotion
that is a lot like The Television Personalities. They are
American. Blood on The Wall is another local band. They
are brother and sister. They are bringing grunge back.
Jennifer: We have played a lot. We have played big shows
and some underground shows. We played with The Raveonettes
before. We are getting ready to play with them for a few
AL: When you record, do you do live takes?
Miyuki: The first one, Purely Evil, was like that. It was
done in one or two takes.
Jennifer: We were on a time schedule. The guy we wanted
to record with had one day open. He was leaving for five
months. We did the album in thirty-six hours. Mixing, recording,
everything. His name is Nicolas Vernhes. We recorded it
at Rare Book Room in Williamsburg.
AL: That is where Fiery Furnaces recorded their albums.
Jennifer: With our second record we decided to take more
time and do more production. The basic tracks are live.
But we did a lot more producing and overdubbing. It was
a creative experiment. We are really happy with it. Our
friend Tim Barnes produced it. It was the first time we
used a producer and let him change stuff. It was like having
a new member of the band to inspire us and help us do things
in new ways.
AL: What is the Rare Book Room Like?
Laura: It's really nice. It's in the basement of his house.
It's a big garage that he turned into a studio.
Miyuki: He has a good live room. He has a good collection
of vintage amps and keyboards.
AL: Did you use some of that gear on your record?
Miyuki: No. When we recorded there it was more like a live
show. But on this recent record we have strings and a sax
on it. Our friend Rob Hall plays sax on the record. We were
listening to a lot of hiphop, reggae and dub music, so we
spoke to Tim about doing something like that and exchanging
AL: Did you use a drum machine on the song "Five Months?"
Laura: No. It's more like a sample of a sample.
AL: You were playing along to the sample?
Laura: It doesn't sound anything like hiphop. We were just
using the production value. We were inspired by that music,
but we still sound like us.
AL: Did that song start with the drum sample?
Jennifer: It's actually an old song. It's one of the first
songs we learned and played at a party. I wrote it in my
bedroom. We rearranged it into something new and totally
stripped it down to the basics. Tim got really creative
on it. He really wanted us to write a new song in the studio.
Instead of doing that we deconstructed a song we already
had and made a new song out of it. I was listening to a
lot of Bauhaus that week.
AL: How do most of your songs get written?
Jennifer: It starts with bass and drumbeats. Sometimes
someone will bring in a whole song. If we write together
usually they will come up with a beat and a general idea
for a song. The lyrics come last. Miyuki can ad lib the
lyrics. He can do that fast. For me, it takes a while.
Miyuki: Usually I will expunge all these things that are
in my head. I will write ten songs at once. We will read
through it and edit through it and pick out the best parts.
AL: You like to write it down or tape it?
Jennifer: Miyuki is really prolific. Like when he sits
down to write a song, he will come back to us with eight
songs where he will be playing every instrument.
AL: You get to pick the best songs?
Laura: They are all good songs. We think about which songs
feel good when we play them together. Some songs are more
happening and they excite us.
Miyuki: We will try anything once.
AL: You are going to make an arty record one day?
Miyuki: We are going to do a Justin Timberlake type of
AL: With the Matrix producing?
Jennifer: It will be our Matrix Christmas Voodoo Album.
AL: You used Pro Tools?
Laura: We recorded this on tape and then dumped it on Pro
Jennifer: We got to use a lot of different guitars and
amps. We used a lot of weird effects that we never used
AL: Do you have really expensive guitars and amps?
Jennifer: We use only the most expensive guitar and amps.
AL: Some of your songs are about Freight Elevators and
Riding A Bike. The songs take mundane activities and make
them into songs.
Jennifer: Like Seinfeld?
AL: You don't have any love songs or songs about tortured
Laura: We don't really think like that.
Miyuki: There are already enough amazing slow jams out
there that I don't really have anything to add to the love
AL: You never play something and think "Let's sex
Jennifer: We are too uptight to reveal anything that intimate.
It's all code. If you listen hard to our music the sexuality
will come through.
AL: You had George Bush on the cover of the first album
Laura: That was a great horror.
AL: The Democratic Convention starts tomorrow.
Jennifer: We have to find some TVs so we can watch it here
AL: I thought you supported Bush?
Miyuki: We will be playing there at Madison Square Garden.
AL: Does the group have a political philosophy?
Jennifer: We are not like The Ex.
AL: You voted for Ralph Nadar last time?
Laura: We did!
Jennifer: We were just depressed. People asked us about
the album cover and if we were political. We realized that
we would be a lot more political if we had more time and
weren't in a band. We do not have time to be culturally
involved. We only put George Bush on our album cover. We
didn't reach out to the people that far. It's obvious.
AL: There are benefit shows. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
is playing a benefit show for Redefeat Bush.
Laura: We have played a few of those types of shows. We
played a few shows for John Kerry. We are political people
in our private lives and that comes across in our songwriting.
There are things to think about, but it's usually vague.
There are things that are challenging but they are personal
and metaphorical. We are not preaching or educating people.
We did start out as a party band. We just don't write love
songs. It's not in us to do that, so we write about other
AL: But once a band gets to a certain level and travels
to other countries, you might one of the first few bands
a young teenager finds out about. You are shaping their
ideas about what an American band is like.
Laura: It's so weird to think about that.
AL: A young person looks up to The Rogers Sisters and maybe
starts to dress like you. It's very important what you say
and what you write about and what political views you may
Jennifer: We hope that we confuse them enough that they
start thinking for themselves. That is our biggest mission.
AL: I was looking at this website recently called Underexposed
Miyuki: It was when we played in England. We played at
AL: I was looking at many bands on this site. The one thing
I noticed about The Rogers Sisters is that you guys are
always on the ground.
Laura: We are trying to get away from that now. We have
a lot of bruises and rugburns. We are trying to stay upright
so we can save ourselves. We were drinking and having a
Jennifer: We can concentrate more on playing the notes
AL: What do you think of The Gossip?
Jennifer: They are great. We have played with them several
times over the past years.
AL: I think that I saw them once at CBGB's.
Laura: It's funny that you mention CBGB's. Most bands we
know never play there anymore. We are having a record release
party for "Three Fingers" there on August 14th.
We decided to have it there because it is a great sounding
club with so much history. We want to bring it back. We
are playing all these weird places.
AL: Who asks you to play all these random support slots?
Laura: It's usually the bands. They have a lot of control.
It's something that we are learning about. Sometimes the
booking agency has an influence. But usually the bands pick
their supporting acts. The Gossip were looking for supporting
bands and we already knew them.
AL: Did all of you grow up with a musical background?
Miyuki: I grew up with a dual recorder in my bedroom. You
could dub stuff. It's like a four track but it's really
a two track recorder. I wasn't very outgoing when I was
Jennifer: It was a very sad childhood.
AL: What do you play
live in your set now?
Jennifer: It's a short set. It's our style to play a lot
of songs fast and quick.
Miyuki: We would like to get to a point where we are like
James Brown. We want to play a medley of songs without stopping.
AL: How do you figure out the set list?
Laura: We play old and new songs. It changes every night.
We play what we feel like playing.
AL: Do you play new songs?
Jennifer: We play new songs all the time. We play them
out and get ideas about how we would want to record them.
We change things when we play in front of people.
AL: Who does your website?
Miyuki: I do it when I have some time. It's really low
key right now. It's low budget.
AL: What are European audiences like?
Laura: They are the best. I don't what to insult American
audiences but European audiences are incredibly supportive
and enthusiastic. If they have never heard of you they go
crazy. They just like going to shows. It's fun. We have
Miyuki: The Germans are very nice but they are very honest
also in critiques of your band. They require that bands
play more than hour.
AL: You wrote that song about the "NME" and now
the NME writes about you.
Jennifer: They loved that!
Miyuki: Somebody from the NME asked me why I wrote that
line. I told them that it was easier to find something to
rhyme with NME than Mojo. I think that NME is hilarious.
It's like People Magazine for music. It's bizarre, trashy,
AL: Some of those magazines have the bonus CD.
Miyuki: They are really into the compilation over there.
AL: Have you been on one of those?
Jennifer: We have been on the Rough Trade compilations.
AL: You did a John Peel Session?
Jennifer: Yeah. We set the studio on fire. The equipment
AL: Did you do a cover song?
Jennifer: We did a Joy Division song.
Upcoming Gigs in NYC
aug 14 - sat - 8pm CBGB -- 315 Bowery, New York, NY --
212-982-4052 'three fingers' record release party w/ sightings
+ blood on the wall + measles mumps rubella + surprise guests
+ special fun + dancing all damn night
Tour w/ The Raveonettes
aug 19 - thu The Chameleon -- 223 N. Water St., Lancaster,
aug 20 - fri The World -- 1650 Smallman St., Pittsburgh,
PA 15222 -- 412-642-2941
aug 23 - mon The Handlebar -- 304 E. Stone Ave., Greenville,
SC 29609 -- 864-233-6173 t
aug 24 - tue Jack Rabbits -- 1528 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville,
FL -- 904-3989-7496
aug 25 - wed The Social -- 54 North Orange Ave., Orlando,
FL 32801 -- 407-246-1419
aug 27 - fri Exit/In -- 2208 Elliston Pl., Nasville, TN
37203 -- 317-253-0799
aug 28 - sat The Patio -- 6308 North Guilford Ave., Indianapolis,
IN 46220 -- 317-253-0799
aug 31 - tue Dionysius Dance Club / Oberlin College -- Wilder
Hall, 135 West Loraine St., Oberlin, OH 44074 -- 440-775-8107