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Three blonde bombshells smile on screen from across the seas, poster kids for your stereotypical all-American surfer dudes–except for the fact that these surfer types are donning plaid shirts and puffer jackets, braving the negative temperatures of an Oregon winter. These aren’t some plastic Californian rockers, this is Roseburg, and they’re a whole new take on an ever-popular genre.
Roseburg’s latest LP Moving Away! boasts more than your standard punk overtones. It’s an impressive statement of a little bit of everything. Life, love, emotions both positive and negative, wrestling with the man, and wrestling with your inner beast. There’s a darkness to Roseburg that isn’t immediately obvious but once people get acquainted with them, they’ll realise there’s a lot more depth than the surface would have you believe. Drawing comparisons between the current release and their upcoming full-length album, vocalist Zach Knell says, “What we’re writing now has a duality between [being] surf rock song at its core but it really has darker undertones.”
“I think more importantly, something we do with music we write is we’re trying to write about real life, or try to write about big picture stuff,” adds drummer Keith Lambson. “Not all life is all happy and good. We’re not trying to be an emo band, though!” That last remark is met with laughter from Lambson’s bandmates, a ringing noise that is certainly far from emo. The depth of tone across Roseburg’s music is subliminal. The sentiment may be on the emo edge but the sound they’ve got going for them? People can be partying in the pit to these songs and not realising they should be swaying with their lighters in the air.
At the mention of their upcoming album, already titled Righteous Punk, the enthusiasm among Roseburg to chat about it is undeniable. Roseburg have this luscious surf-rock sound, the title is Righteous Punk and the boys are from Oregon–what to expect from this album is a bit of a head scratcher. “Righteous Punk, it’s really a lens through which we’re writing the album,” begins guitarist Samuel Sheppard. “Anyone who’s listened to the Heaven VS Hollywood EP  critically, I think, sees these common themes we used, and really, it’s pretty conceptual–but it’s not telling a linear story. It’s using certain words or metaphors to explain the world that we’re building and looking at.
It’s still awkward at family reunions and have people ask us have we got real job yet?
[ Zach Knell ]
“Righteous Punk is exciting for us because we are continuing in a lot of ways to use those same themes and telling a story about a character—that character who we’re using to look at the world is the Righteous Punk.”
Lambson takes the reins on explaining the schemes behind Roseburg’s elaborate and enlightening concept. “The term righteous punk is interesting,” he begins. “We all like rebellious music from the 70s clear through to the 00s of that kind of punk rock attitude, sticking it to the man a little bit. It’s different to do that now.
“[It’s] a shift in perspective to the way it used to be. The idea of Righteous is someone who’s trying to be good but the world sees him as a punk because he’s going against what the world think he should be doing.”
Sheppard continues by stating the big picture is often difficult–he’s not wrong Roseburg’s hope is that the band be a rallying cry to the group of people who have problems but face them head on. It all comes back to that subliminal message in their music. It’s not really a subliminal message, it’s more a subliminal understanding, one they feel they share with many people and want to communicate those mutual struggles and understandings on a sonic level. The strong silent type, bassist Soren Buchert throws his thoughts into the fray, saying, “Everyone has breakups or like mental or emotional problems, but really at its core a lot of the problems we’re talking about are maybe a little more abstracted, and it’s more the archetypal struggle that we’re focusing on writing about.”
“Right,” Sheppard agrees. “When you write archetypally, it gives people an opportunity to take the abstract and apply it to their life and that’s something we’ve tried hard to do.”
“I think what’s dope is that we can say this stuff and it gets kinda heavy, but people get it,” says Knell. “Like the average 15-year-old kid from Ohio, like, they get it. We’ve learned that. It’s ambiguous in a way but people grasp it and that’s totally sweet.”
What’s “dope” is that Roseburg are far more intelligent than they let on–they’re like onions, there are far more layers than meets the eye. What Buchert and Sheppard were saying was so beautifully profound then Zach had to pull a mask back on. Laughing, the band let Knell revel the deeper parts of himself. “I believe everyone wants to be good at their core,” he says, “They wanna do a good job, they wanna be happy, they wanna be kind to people, but there’s a lot of conflicting opinion and ideas in the world and it’s really hard to keep your head on straight sometimes.
“So take Righteous Punk as a character; hopefully people who go through the experience of listening to this album, they can experience being this character. We like punk music, we like the idea of being rebellious– we’re all college dropouts, we’re all doing not what our families want us to be doing,” Knell’s statement is met with more agreeable laughter, “It’s still awkward at family reunions and have people ask us have we got real job yet?”
“We embrace that, because it makes us feel comfortable, but we’re almost taking that and twisting it a little bit where really we’re just trying to be happy and make other people happy. That’s the goal with our music, it’s about other people.”