Carmen Vanderberg of BONES UK: Rock you can’t ignore

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UNPLUGGED EP Photo by Dylan O'Connor

BONES UK’s music has a tendency to leave you begging for more.

Part of their unapologetic rock appeal is the thick artistic chemistry between vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vanderberg. Bones’ sultry vocals combined with Vanderberg’s sliding blues/rock guitar is simply orgasmic, and with their jaw-dropping cinematic videos, there is nothing that BONES UK cannot do.

Their debut self-titled album was released last July, and they were nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Rock Performance category for their single “Pretty Waste” from their UNPLUGGED EP, which was released in January 2020.

We caught up with Vanderberg late last year to talk about the band’s influences, music videos, and what it takes to create a cutting edge sound.

Your music has some really powerful messages. What were some of the most important themes that you wanted to convey through your music?

We talk about things that affect our lives, and many other people out there on this planet. As Rosie always says, music is such a powerful platform to share thoughts and experiences and has the potential to move people. I also see it as an outlet to release what’s swimming in our minds and hearts.

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In your video for “Beautiful is Boring,” you really flip the ‘screaming fan’ stereotype on its head. What inspired you to tackle that?

Rosie had this idea for quite some time, and when we decided to do a video for “Beautiful is Boring,” we thought it was a perfect match. The song is a statement against social expectations of beauty, which also brought us to question ‘why it is socially acceptable for women to be groupies, faint, scream, etc. and for men, it isn’t?’ We just wanted to do a video that would show how it would look like the other way around.

In the track “Girls Can’t Play Guitar,” you drew on something that really happened to you. Do any of your other songs draw from experiences?

Definitely. Every song comes from something that we’ve experienced or a topic we feel strongly about.

It’s mentioned in your bio that it was Jimi Hendrix that first inspired you. What other guitarists have inspired you throughout your career?

Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddie King, Albert King, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Derek Trucks and many, many more.

As a guitarist, what helped you in creating your own unique sound?

Regarding BONES UK material, a lot of it was created working together with our producer Filippo Cimatti to create a different sound. I also think a lot of a player’s sound comes from the hands and the way you approach the guitar.

What guitars do you take with you on the road? Do they differ from the ones you use in the studio?

My main guitar is my ’63 Telecaster. I also always bring my custom Strat that Fender was so amazing to help me create. I also play a Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar from my amazing Fender rep Billy Siegal, who I love dearly. In the studio, I also use a Duesenberg whose name is Julia.

Of the tracks that you’ve been working on, which has been the most challenging to work on? What was the most fun?

All of them were fun, the challenge is in writing something good.

What advice would you give to young musicians?

Keep playing, keep practicing, always have fun, never lose the joy and love that got you into it, write your feelings and experiences into music.

UNPLUGGED TRACKLIST:

  1. Beautiful Is Boring
  2. Pretty Waste
  3. Black Blood
  4. Filthy Freaks
  5. Souls 

Check out our interview with Rosie and Carmen while at Winter NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, California.

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Samantha Stevens has been singing along with the radio for as long as she can remember. Guided by a love for music, she spent the better part of her childhood performing in classical and contemporary choirs. But straight out of high school, she decided that she wanted to see the world, and so she did what any young adventurer would do…she joined the navy. An entire world of sounds, music, and stories opened up to her, and she found herself inspired by it all. In 2015, she retired from the Royal Canadian Navy after over a decade of service. Since then she has achieved a BA in literature, will soon have an MA in journalism, and is even a trained journalist and reporter. Currently living near Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Samantha has written for a wide variety of publications including Spill Magazine, Stereo Embers Magazine, and the North Bay Nugget. She still sings for the sheer joy of it.

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