Waitressing to put herself through college, Eileen studied criminal law, but quickly switched to music when her inclination to write and sing became unignorable. She'd long been a fan of singer-songwriters like Tom Waits, Neil Diamond and John Fogerty, and had taught herself to sing by attempting to emulate the vast range and harmonic pyrotechnics of Kate Bush. Very rare for an American girl, that, as Bush was never big in the States. Nevertheless, the uncompromising artistic vision, restless spirit and fearless self-challenging of Bush and Waits made Eileen the constantly intriguing and wholly unpredictable artist she is today. Apart from when she rocks. Aerosmith did that - she's a Boston girl, after all. And it was in Boston that she fronted Daisy Chain, then Medici Slot Machine, and finally Fledgling, a heavy-duty 4-piece who were signed to TVT, originally home to Nine Inch Nails.
By the time TVT came calling, Eileen had relocated to England, living in Camden until Fledgling finally faded and died. Moving out to a cottage in rural Essex, she began to demo solo material, including the likes of Would You Marry Me? and Rose, the latter's punchline being advice from her father - "Never learn to sing the blues" - that she sometimes now wished she had taken. Times were tough.
But Eileen persisted, as she always persists. She moved back into London to start building a solo career. Her debut was a nightmarish freak-show. Promoters at the Weavers Arms in Stoke Newington had her supporting at a reunion show by legendary psychobillies The Polecats. There were wall-to-wall Death's Head tattoos: two-foot, superglued, spikey hair-dos: many of London's most impressive build-ups of plaque: all bosom buddies of long standing, all talking, no one listening. Time to die for one girl and her guitar? Eileen delivered a version of Tom Waits Crooning so stunningly beautiful and virulently caustic she shocked the room into reverent silence. Thank you, London, and goodnight.
A month or so later, at another Weavers gig, Eileen was approached by Rob Spragg, leader of the headlining Larry Love Show Band (and also head honcho of Alabama 3). He loved her set, he said, so she gave him a tape of demos. A week later, she received a call from Rob. He was on holiday in Italy with his girlfriend but he had to let Eileen know - he thought her voice, her songs were brilliant. Connections were made, a band came together. David Bull, lead guitarist in Fledgling, came back into the fold. Barry Payne, once a 17-year-old bass player for Wreckless Eric at his peak but away from the music business ever since, re-animated himself, too. From Alabama 3 came guitarist Mark Sams, keyboard player Orlando Harrison and, on drums, Simon "Sir Eddie Real" Edwards.
The band's first gig was at London's Garage, supporting David Gray - a man just months away from obscene success. Their second was at Camden's Monarch. They did not play well, but frustration made them awe-inspiringly intense, with Eileen singing at the very edge of her range. In the crowd was Geoff Travis, then needing an appropriate album to re-launch his Rough Trade label. His words to Eileen afterwards were "Let's make a record". She said OK and, some two months later, in September 1999, found herself in Monnow Valley studio, near Monmouth in Wales, recording with the same desk they'd used for Bohemian Rhapsody, now manned by Jerry Boys, who'd just engineered Ry Cooder's mega-hit The Buena Vista Social Club.
The resulting album, titled Shine Like It Does, featured three tracks from the Essex demos (Rose, Lie To Me and Would You Marry Me?) and seven others, written earlier in that year. Musically, it was a fascinating and thrilling mix of swamp rock, blues, country, folk and scintillating pop, proof positive of Eileen's ability and ambition.
Shine Like It Does was originally intended to be rush-released by December, 1999. But Rough Trade were in protracted negociations with Sanctuary Records (they would put out Eileen's NEXT album in Europe and the US), so the album remained on the shelf till the following October, just before Eileen undertook a UK tour with Ryan Adams. Receiving a raft of exceptionally laudatory reviews from the likes of Mojo, Q, Uncut and Time Out, ShineÉ would be re-released several months later, in 2001, with a different cover and shrink-wrapped with a new EP. This Party Dress EP, recorded with Del Amitri's Iain Harvie and Kris Dollimore in their small Rochester studio, was pretty much an accident. Eileen had been seeking to make demos, but Travis liked them so much he asked if he could release them. US label Compass, run by Grammy-winning banjo-player Alison Brown, liked them too, adding three of the tracks to ShineÉ when they released it in the States that April.
2001 was a bruisingly busy year for Eileen Rose. She began it with a three-week residency at London's Borderline, deliberately setting herself the task of writing at least one new song for each week's gig (this was the genesis of For Marlene, White Dove's Awake and See How I Need You, as well as Prove Me Wrong, which she wrote with Boo Hewerdine). With the EP out and the album re-released, she then toured the UK with Eddi Reader. Next, back out in a cottage in rural Essex, she wrote another set of songs, which she took back to Rochester with Harvie and Dollimore, using such guest musicians as Bull, Harrison and Payne, as well as Del Amitri drummer Mark Price, with bass courtesy of The Sex Pistols' Glen Matlock and The Ruts' Seggs (Dave Ruffy, The Ruts' drummer, would join later join Eileen's live band). She also teach herself harmonica. Eileen would be forced to delay the sessions in July, to tour the US with Ron Sexsmith, with whom she'd also tour Ireland that November.
The new album, entitled Long Shot Novena, was released in February, 2002, and Eileen - who'd been named as Musical Hope Of The Year by the Observer newspaper - received yet another barrage of glowing reviews, most of them commenting on the quality of her voice and melodies, the disarming and sometimes unnerving honesty of her lyrics and the courageous variety of the music. Now even Time Magazine, along with the Times, the Independent, the Telegraph and The Sunday Times expressed their keen appreciation. Eileen played a triumphant date at the Borderline, then took of across America with Boston homeboy Frank Black and Mercury Award-nominated Ed Harcourt.
That Eileen Rose should have joined Steve Earle and Ryan Adams on the soundtrack to the Dennis Quaid movie The Rookie is only right and fitting. Like Earle, she has been called a country artist when in fact her music is more based in roots and rock. And, as with Adams, those who like her REALLY like her. Her gigs are both emotionally satisfying AND great fun. Deeply respected and thoroughly enjoyed, she will be making great music for years to come.
Eileen sings North Pole Transmission on FC Kahuna's Machine Says Yes album (City Rockers City Rock, 2002). Bass is provided by Simon Jones from The Verve.
Eileen is a big fan of Paul Simon. The only time she met him, he asked what she thought of his new album, and she TOLD him, explaining she didn't like the mix. He moved on, sharpish. Co-incidentally, Simon too lived in England, before The Sounds Of Silence was re-mixed without his permission and became a big hit. He actually wrote Homeward Bound on Widnes station. VERY co-incidentally, he also lived for a while in Brentwood, Essex - as did an unknowing Eileen Rose.
Eileen's musical favourites include: Kate Bush, Tom Waits, John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Diamond, Janis Joplin, Jane Siberry, Aerosmith, Chet Baker and Paul Simon. The album she played most in 2001 was Nick Cave's No More Shall We Part.
Shine Like It Does was mixed at the Church by Mark Freegard, who'd earlier worked with The Breeders on Last Splash, featuring the hit single Cannonball.
Eileen provided backing vocals for Alabama 3's Wade Into The Water, from their 2000 LP, La Peste. She has joined them onstage at the Scala and Brixton Academy, while their singer, Rob Spragg (AKA Larry Love) joined her in a duet of Snake at the Barbican's Beyond Nashville festival in late 2001.
Mortar And Stone, a track Eileen recorded at the Shine Like It Does sessions but did not include on that album, can be found on Truck Records' first Twisted Lounge compilation. The lyrics express her great admiration for Gregory Peck and Atticus Finch, the character Peck played in To Kill A Mockingbird. A very young Robert Duvall also appeared, as Boo Radley, who'd inspire, well, The Boo Radleys.
Eileen's solo career has seen her playing with David Gray, Ryan Adams, Alabama 3, The Pernice Brothers, The Jayhawks, The Handsome Family, Frank Black, Ed Harcourt, Ron Sexsmith, Evan Dando and Eddi Reader.
Eileen Rose Giadone was born in Saugus, between Boston and Salem, historical scenes of much heroism and madness, from revolutionary tea parties to the occasional auto-da-fe. Her father was born in Sicily, being brought to America at the age of two. Her mother was half-Irish and half-English, but Bostonian born and bred. One of her antecedents was none other than John L. Sullivan, the last great bare-knuckle heavyweight champion of the world, known as the Boston Strong Boy, who made a habit of silencing local bars with a bellowed "I'll lick any son-of-a-bitch in the house!" Eileen's parents crossed a serious cultural divide in down-at-heel East Boston then - both being Catholic - proceeded to raise six girls and three boys, Eileen being second-youngest of the nine. Her musical education began early, with her mother's exile anthems, then Jerry Lee Lewis and The Monkees. The first LP she bought was KISS's Destroyer.
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