We get to hear a lot of new music here, as it (thankfully) gets sent in for review on a regular basis. Sometimes a new album absolutely hits you, and “Penny for Your Sins,” released in April 2023, remains one of the best new rock sounds I have heard since Pretty Reckless put out “Death by Rock n’ Roll.” This band has an album that deserves a much greater reach, and this is us doing our bit for that end!
Baz Roze: Guitarist
Steve Rankin: Bass
Vic Finch: Drums
Hailing from Kent, Black Roze have paid their dues, first as a rock covers band, then with their debut album “Spiritual Hell” in 2019. Over the pandemic, they settled on writing the new material that was to emerge in the magnificent “Penny for Your Sins.” We were more than happy to sit down for a conversation with Viixen and Baz because the music had somewhat blown us away, and we really wanted to bring you a piece on this melodic postmodern punk/rock outfit delivering power in 2023.
After saying hello, having a brief discussion on 60s memorabilia and art, and noting the success of the album in terms of reviews and general applause (which the guys acknowledge as amazing feedback), we opened up the interview by asking for any reflections on “Penny for Your Sins” a couple of months post release.
Baz- It has done amazing things for us, and the production is something I’m more than happy with. We’ve been happy with the physical sales of CDs, and the download side of things is really positive. People are saying that they are playing it in the car as driving music, and we have been really happy.
Viixen- It got to number three in the Amazon rock charts, and it stayed in the rock charts for four weeks, which we never expected.
Baz- This was in the download chart, not the streaming chart; we are talking about people actually physically downloading the album, not streaming it alone.
Starting with the image, that all-important look. There is a line about one of the founders of The Rolling Stones, Ian Stewart (who played keyboards and had a love of boogie-woogie style). Stewart was let go because it was possible (apparently) to think of him as not being a rock star! Looking at Viixen and Baz in the videos, it is kind of impossible not to see them as rock stars. So did the image form through planning, or did it just naturally fall into place?
Viixen- We are what we are. Baz hasn’t changed since he was 17. He’s always been a biker, he was into his glam bands and his hair bands. So that influenced his image. And then, with me, I was into Siouxsie and the Banshees and Kate Bush, and in the 90s, I loved The Cranberries.
Baz- I feel Viixen has incorporated all of them—all of her heroes in this album. The first album was fine for what it was, and we were happy with it; the production was great. But with this new album, we know that we have arrived.
Viixen- With the songwriting as well. Although we are not easily pigeonholed, we have a lot of different genres on that album.
It is great that this came up, as here at the magazine, when we listened to the album and put notes down on the songs, we wrote: “Devil’s Door” has a thundering sound but with a touch of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Then “Penny for Your Sins” has this melodic punk sound reminiscent of the LA scene and bands like “The Last Gang,” and “Kix” has Slade clearly there somewhere!
Baz- Absolutely. A bit of glam rock would be me. I am a Glam Rock fan all the way.
Viixen- The party boy! That is what Baz brings to the band—the party and the rock n’ roll vibe. It is the glam, hair metal 80s sound that he delivers for us.
Baz- And then Viixen brings it all down into this dark coffin of goth stuff! It is the total opposite, but it works.
Viixen- Our bass player, Steve, is a massive Iron Maiden fan. So all of us came together and created this diverse album.
It all moved seamlessly on the album. You move from this poignant ballad, “Footprints in the Sand,” to the sheer power and energy of “Hit Me Up.”
Viixen- That’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t want people to listen to a track and move on to the next one without knowing they were arriving at a new song! We didn’t want everything to sound the same. We wanted to give people a surprise as the next track arrived; a sense of not expecting that.
Baz- We wanted to keep it fresh and wanted people to feel like they would play through the whole piece.
Viixen- Our favourites change every day.
Baz- And we have sat here on many drunken nights to try and sum up ourselves, and we struggle. There was someone who said we were glam party metal with goth rock and a slice of punk on the side! That’s not bad.
A clear favourite of ours was “Hit Me Up,” and we wondered if there was anything the band could say about that one.
Baz- That was one from me.
Viixen- Baz is very influenced by the blues. He loves the old bluesmen, those early delta men, and the 1920s sound.
Baz- I love that sound, and some Stones as well. I am influenced by that era, and that basic music. It has so much feeling. We were writing some songs, and they were quite dark. I wanted to remind everybody that we needed some partying there too! Leave it to Viixen, and the whole album would be a dark gothic trip!
Viixen- So we needed to write a party song, and he did. He even sang what he wanted me to sing, and I thought that this was not like me at all. It took two years to get that song from start to finish, as I would be saying how I did not like that bit or that bit. But we got there, and it is just about having a good time.
Of course, the bluesmen of old were all great entertainers. Anyone looking at BB King, Lead Belly, or those greats will see and hear entertainment! And rock grew from the blues.
Baz- That is where you find my soul, in the blues and in 70s rock. “Hit Me Up” looks back to all that and is also a bit influenced by T-Rex. It takes from that sound and influence, but we rocked it up.
Viixen- The song “Hit Me Up” is “give me a shock,” basically.
The band started out doing covers. We came across a great version of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking,” which appeared to be a whole lot of fun! The video appeared absolutely mad—a real blast!
Viixen- It was a joke to start with. It was one of those nights, and I started singing it in a really dirty way. It was really sleazy, and I brought this Dominatrix thing into it with the whip and the hat, and we started performing it live.
Baz- As a bit of an encore and a bit of fun. But everyone got excited, and every time we did it, all the photographers appeared like flies.
Viixen- It’s still in the set, and we play it at most gigs. We would only not play it if the set was short. When we do it, I get off the stage with the whip, and I will shout, “Are you ready? I’m coming to get you!” It’s a lot of fun, and our crowd looks for it. If we don’t play it, then the crowd will be asking where it is.
Baz- The great thing about having Viixen as a singer is that she has such a range; she can go from “Footprints in the Sands” to “Penny for Your Sins.” She has a great vocal range and delivers what the song needs every time. “Footprints in the Sand” is almost a crying, emotional, trip. But at the start of the album,, she will blow off the speakers. We had one review in which they couldn’t believe the difference.
Viixen- I will try all different ways to match the song vocally with what is needed. I try to keep the emotion in my voice matched to the needs of the track, and every song is different.
So was Viixen trained at all, or was it a love of singing from childhood? Did she sing at school and so forth?
Viixen- I didn’t start singing properly until I was in my early thirties. I then joined an all-girl group and did covers before joining Black Roze. That was when Black Roze was a covers band, and basically for three years we just enjoyed ourselves and did the tour scene. Then one day we were offered a gig at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, and we were thrilled. But we had to have original stuff, so we started writing, and it took us six weeks. We ended up doing three original tracks and three covers. From then on, it snowballed into us wanting to write and perform our own material.
Viixen, photo by Adam Kennedy
Baz- We also changed Black Rose to Black Roze, as that is more distinctive. Maybe if we had our time again, things would be different with the name, but we never knew.
Viixen- We never knew. We were just having fun, we were a local covers band, playing and enjoying our performance. We never thought we would have the albums; it is a privilege we never thought we would have.
It is great to speak to a band with real commitment to the album in the age of the download. We do love vinyl here at the magazine—the whole event of buying the music, opening the sleeve, looking at the album cover, and reading the sleeve. I fear we have lost something with downloading.
Viixen- We are very lucky. As we are older, the people who follow us are that bit older as well, and they are of the same mentality as us with the whole album thing.
Baz- That is why we still have the CDs, and people fully download the album. You can’t make money off Spotify alone. We are able to cling in there! We would love to do a vinyl edition.
Viixen- I’d love a vinyl version! I’d put it on the wall. But the vinyl is difficult to get hold of, hard to get up and running. I know a few bands that had albums out last year and are still waiting. A lot of people have asked us about a vinyl version, and it really is something we would like and will look at.
Baz- But it’s the expense that goes against vinyl. It is a lot, something like £20 for us to produce an album on vinyl, per unit. So are we going to spend thousands of pounds up front? But the double gate, read the lyrics, put it on the wall as a work of art, we would really like that, yes.
Rock the Joint Magazine remains proud to promote the best in independent acts. Get out there and listen to “Penny for Your Sins.” The link to download the full album is here. And if you love Glam Rock (T-Rex, Slade, 80’s Kiss), melodic punk (The Last Gang), or Siouxsie and the Banshees, then have a listen and be prepared to be blown away.
You can further follow Black Roze at any of the links below:
Upcoming Live events:
July 15th Friday, The Booking Hall, Dover, Kent, with Wicked Stone
August 19th, Saturday, Rockstock 2, The Vic Bikers pub, Coalville
September 30th Saturday, The Giffard Arms, Wolverhampton
January 2024, 27th Saturday, Heaven and Hellfests, Meltdown, The Bridge/Hive, Rotherham
By Mark C Chambers
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