Singled Out: Cold Roses' Staying Alive Ain't Easy

05-26-2017
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Cold Roses

Philly rockers Cold Roses are gearing up to release their new album "Escape to Anywhere" on July 21st and released the single "Staying Alive Ain't Easy" today. We asked frontman Rob Clancy to tell us about song. Here is the story:

"Staying Alive Ain't Easy" was written on a cold winter's night (no, seriously). A state of emergency had been declared in the city of Philadelphia for the pending blizzard, rendering one pretty much confined to their place of residence until further notice. As the night gradually fell and morning began to stir, I was somewhere between blissful sleep-deprivation and a healthy dose of cabin fever, when I started getting the itch to write. Knowing that I wasn't about to leave my apartment anytime soon, I locked myself in a room with my guitar and after about 45 minutes, "Staying Alive Ain't Easy" was finished. I had a very basic idea of a verse melody going into it, but that was about it. The lyrics, chorus, and middle-eight all seemed to just flow out all at once. Usually when a song sort of metaphysically happens like that, I tend to be skeptical of its validity, but with this one I remember thinking, "It feels like there's something here."

I was at the point in my life where I was asking myself a lot of the major questions: "What is my purpose?" "Where am I going?" Basically, "What in the hell am I doing with my life?" Of course, one of the under-stated beauties of life is the search and the journey to find those answers. Thinking about all of this and what was going on in my life at the time, the words "staying alive ain't easy" just kept popping up in my head. It basically summed up everything I was experiencing and delivered it in a very direct way. The very notion of what it takes to really stay alive will invariably be different depending on whom you ask. It's a struggle that I think everyone can relate to in some way; but you have to keep moving on, to swim and not sink, to take every guaranteed obstacle of life in stride. To not just sit around and wait for things to happen on their own because tomorrow, everything could change. It's a sentiment that has been expressed throughout human existence and hasn't changed much, only the physical world around us has.

I wanted to create a situational story with a more observer-style narrative using different characters and scenes that would take the personal aspects of what I was expressing in the song, and convey it in different ways. I set the song in my hometown, Philadelphia. I mention the Broad Street Line, which is one of the two subway lines in the city that I used to take nearly every day. Ninth Street is a popular street near where I used to live in South Philly. It's home to the famous Italian Market (there's far more to it than just Rocky training montages, I promise) and a place where I've spent many long nights. Same goes for Ray's Birthday Bar, people are falling out of there all the time and I can't say that I haven't been subject to the occasional misstep myself.

The song was recorded during the sessions for our new album, Escape To Anywhere. I got a call from these guys in Los Angeles, who would later become our record label, saying they'd heard and loved our previous record, No Silence In The City, and wanted to meet. So I grabbed my guitar, stuffed a duffel bag with clothes and jetted off to the west coast. I met them at the studio and played them a couple songs I had been kicking around. By the time I got to "Staying Alive Ain't Easy," they all got up and off their chairs unanimously, urging that song to be the first single release.

In the studio, the song started taking on a life of its own. We recorded the basic tracks the same way we always have; no track-by-track recording, no click track, just us performing it live with the tape rolling. Cold Roses - straight, no chaser. Once we had the sonic foundation, we were then able to start experimenting with various layers of sound and instrumentation. Definitely one of the pivotal differences with this track versus anything else we'd done up to that point, was bringing in other groups of musicians to play on it. We had a live string quartet and full horn-section come in, which allowed us to expand past our usual saxophone/trumpet combo, ushering in a very unique flavor that certainly contributed to the overall aesthetic and vibe of the track. We went from straight, no chaser to a Sazerac.

Overall, it was a labor-intensive but truly enjoyable process, creating and recording "Staying Alive Ain't Easy," particularly because I feel it represents a growing point both within myself and the band. We were in a different city, a different studio, working with new people and recording new songs. There were a lot of other adverse elements surrounding us, but it forced us to get out of our comfort zone and to evolve. I think that very notion in and of itself is reflective of the song's overall sentiment. The desire to move forward despite the constraints around you, to live for the moment without forgetting the past or ignoring the future. To live the life you've envisioned for yourself and the world around you. It "ain't" always easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself here and learn more about the album right here!

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