DENNY's Alex Rollins Talks The Ups & Downs Of Touring And Music In The Making

DENNY are a Minneapolis-based band creating funk/R&B-inspired pop music. They are a collective of three college friends with the mutual love for making music that is funky, fun, and original. They released their first single in 2016 called "Bloom" and have since put out two other singles entitled "Something Furious" and "Girls Like You", which you can find on Spotify. The band's Alex Rollins was able to sit and chat with Suburban Rose Magazine interviewer & photographer Gabrielle Miranda about touring, their experience with Eric Palmquist, new music, and more.

Source: Morgan Winston

Suburban Rose: You were able to head out to LA last year and work with Eric Palmquist, who is an amazing producer. How was it working with him?

Alex Rollins: Yeah, it was easy and kind of just fluid. We sent some demos out to our management in 2016 and he passed them along to Eric and we just started chatting. But the who pre-production side was pretty much just us chatting on the phone for hours about what we wanted to do. Then when we got out there the first time it was like 8 days of intensive 16 hour days at his studio. He's an awesome coach and is our biggest cheerleader when we're recording and is always positive. The atmosphere that he sets in the studio especially with what we want to do, because we go in and just try to be fearless and he's all about that! He's great!

SR: So what would you say your usual writing process is like, then?

Rollins: So I have a studio in my house and then we have a studio in St. Paul, Minnesota where we demo everything. As the "lead song-writer" I'll come up with an idea and it's usually just a phrase. Like with our song "Girls Like You," it started out by just a journal entry I found from angsty teen me and that's how that song started. I used to write on like an old keyboard and it kept it pretty organic. Now I'm obsessed with production and love creating atmospheres. But I don't really have a specific process; it's just that things pop into my head, I write them, and I bring them to the other two guys. We're perfectionists, which can be a fault sometimes.

SR: Do you have any place where you feel most inspired when writing?

Rollins: I tend to write more retrospectively. I had very vibrant teenage and early college years so I have a lot of memories that I draw from. Summers in Minnesota tend to be humid and there's sort of a romance to it, so that's always been a really inspiring place and point in my life for me. But if we're gonna talk about a specific place, I live in Minneapolis and I have a little bungalow and I will literally spend all day muttering to myself and composing entire songs.

SR: You described yourselves as making funk/R&B-inspired pop music. Did you see yourselves writing that type of music, or did it just occur naturally?

Rollins: Honestly, our drummer and I were in a band for 5 years and we kind of just sounded like Radiohead. After that ended, I wanted to try something new and that was pop music. The first few singles that we put out were very "Walk The Moon" ... I sort of saw everyone doing that and I grew up listening to funk, R&B, and 80's rock with my parents and I really just wanted to marry the two. The more I got into that the more I became obsessed with listening to people like Queen but also Michael Jackson and really got into funk. But when I realized that none of that really exists I wanted to create it. My true goal with DENNY is to create something that would be my favorite band.


SR: It seems like you've always been around music when you were younger. Did you see yourself starting a band and making music seriously?

Rollins: I grew up in the intense and competitive classical/concert piano world. I started piano lessons when I was like 3 and by the time I was 5 I was competing in like state championship levels. It sounds cool, but it was a lot for a 5-year-old. [My] dad was also musical. But at a young age after being like a fireman or a pilot it was always to be in a band. But I couldn't be a pilot and I don't like fire so I had to go with the third choice. I even went to college without any idea of what I wanted to do except to meet people to play in a band with. Music has really always been a part of my life.

SR: You released your single "Bloom" in 2016 which made its way onto Spotify's Fresh Finds playlist, which helped you open for artists like Miike Snow. Did this open up any other opportunities for you?

Rollins: Kind of. I mean in Minneapolis when we opened for Miike Snow we played a sold-out show, which was a dream. We haven't really done any expensive touring really. Personally, I think in the music industry, on the business side of it, they don't really take the artists' mental health seriously. Like we toured once with our first band in our 20's and it honestly just broke us. The drummer ended up living in his car afterward. We weren't only physically not in good places, but mentally we weren't in good places. So we learned a lot from that. As a local artist, it takes a lot for a person from the suburbs to know about you so it was really cool to have people in Minneapolis come up to you after a show and ask where you're from and you tell them you're from here and they get shocked because they've never heard of you. But it has taught us how to put all of our energy into performing not just to captivate them, but to impress ourselves, too.

SR: You have teased a song called "She Gonna Eat Your Heart Out." Can you give us any information on how this song came along?

Rollins: That was actually going to be one of our first singles and it existed in an entirely different form. We basically had the release set then we decided not to do it because we just decided it wasn't right. But the song has had I don't even know how many changes and versions. But we're headed out to work with Eric Palmquist to finish our record and we just said: "We have to get this out in some form, otherwise we're gonna change it ten more times." It's different though, it's a slow one. Topically it started out as an angsty love song but it evolved into a dark love letter to the internet and social media, which we never intended it to be that until the whole theme and dramatic elements came together to make the song. We just needed to get that song out and we even shot a visual for it and we're probably just gonna drop that in the next two weeks. We played it live for two years, so I think its time!


SR: What can we expect from DENNY in the next year?

Rollins: We used to be heavy planners and now we're just kind of like, "Screw it - lets just release a bunch of music." So we're kind of just gonna release music at will. And we're finishing our record which has been a long time coming, especially for people that have been with us from the beginning. We discovered who we really wanted to be last year. Now we're executing that and chasing it and it's awesome! We have an idea of everything and hopefully we'll be releasing things later this year. We're releasing a mixtape of other miscellaneous songs, a lot of videos, and hoping that the stars are going to align on shows outside of Minneapolis.

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