Maggie Rose Discusses No One Gets Out Alive Ahead Of Chicago Performance

By: Zoe Blakeman – Photo by: Sophia Matinazad

ZB: “Rolling Stone called No One Gets Out Of Alive one of the most successful reinventions in Nashville history. What inspired the themes and musical direction of this album?”

MR: “I think a myriad number of things, going through the pandemic was tough on everybody, especially just what it has done and continues to do to the touring industry. My way of life was threatened and I love music and what it brings in terms of the connection with people. So that was tough to go through a bit of an identity crisis because I was not performing, and I also had some friendships that didn’t last throughout that, the stress, the work aspect of it.

And I lost people, people passed away during that time. It was also a moment to just be grateful and realize that you can’t wait around for outside circumstances to be in your favor to do what you love and I wanted to make something beautiful and also just realize that the time is now. We have a finite amount of time while we’re here and it was my way to work through all of it and soothe myself and other people.”

ZB: “Your album is described as a master class in contemporary pop craftsmanship with influences from early 70’s Laurel Canyon-type vibes. Can you share more about how these influences shaped the sound of this album?”

MR: “I was just trying to write songs that were introspective and I think this album thus far is definitely the most personal to me. So I wasn’t trying to be too contrived or back into it. I was just writing what I felt. But I will say that I did listen to Tapestry by Carol King a lot throughout that period and a lot of artists that were really big during that Laurel Canyon era, you know, Jim Morrison, Linda Ronstadt, and Joni Mitchell. I was trying to write classic, timeless music but our song, so I think that’s what made the production transcend a little bit from song to song.”

ZB: “Your songs on No One Gets Out Alive cover a range of themes from relationships to female empowerment, and a wide variety of things like that. How do you approach writing about such diverse and profound topics?”

MR: “I was just writing what I felt and it has happened with the last couple of records where other than the song “Mad Love” all the songs on this record were written within six months of the other. So I felt like I was in this stream of being motivated and excited to write and it was in the moment.


With “Underestimate Me” there is a little bit of bite to that because it was my way of saying I’ve got something up my sleeve, and it’s speaking to an industry that hasn’t always been a meritocracy by any stretch.

But I also had been working on this podcast that I started during the pandemic called Salute the Songbird where I interviewed all these women in the industry and I’ve listened to their music and their stories and just got so inspired and that made me want to start writing and then I also ended every episode – leaving it on a positive note so I’d say, ‘what’s your favorite part of being a woman in the industry?’ and they’d say, ‘being underestimated, it’s a superpower’ so I feel that helped me to be really confident to start writing, it got me really excited about it and I turned it into a song.”


ZB: “Awesome, that’s very cool! Is your podcast on Spotify?”

MR: “Yes, I’m reformatting it right now. But I wanted to get this record out and I’m going to start it up again. It was such a lifeline to feel connected to my music community at a time when it was hard for us to get together. I was consuming so much music on a weekly basis, listening to the stories of all these women that were really wide-ranging and awe-inspiring. So, it got me fired up about making music again.”

ZB: “You’ve collaborated with songwriters Claude Kelly, Chuck Harmony, and Natalie Hemby Can you describe the collaborative process and how working with these artists influenced the album?”

MR: “Yeah, Nashville is so full of talent that it’s a great place to exist and make music, and give you a competitive edge in the best way possible, but then you have so many resources and talented people to work with. Chuck and Claude have become really close because a lot of the songs we wrote together did not take just one session for us to get through because we were trying to deal with these topics that were personal and also craft the song the best way we could.

So, it’s a lot of trust involved and Natalie Hemby is so accomplished as a songwriter so just being able to work through ideas with her too, is, not humbling, but it does make you realize that you have some of the best of the best help you mold these ideas, and I love working with other people. I’m a big co-writer because I think it just shows you what you’re writing about is relatable to other people and it holds a mirror up to you in the best way.”

ZB: “How do you go about writing about personal experiences without sharing too much of your private life in these songs?”

MR: “I think you can’t think about it, you could always edit yourself later. In the moment, I think you owe it to yourself to write it in an unvarnished way, and it’s an exercise in vulnerability. I think that’s why on previous records I’d use the collective ‘we’ to kind of present these ideas because then it made it feel less like I was under a microscope and I tried to abandon some of that with this project this time around. I let certain emotions be more ragged and tried to write how I felt and I felt that would allow me to move on to the next thing.”

ZB: “You worked with Grammy award-winning producer Ben Tanner and Bobby Holland. How did their contributions shape the final sound of the album?”

MR: “Ben and I worked together on “Have a Seat,” also he’s just a phenomenal musician in his own right, so it felt safe to bring him these songs knowing that we already had a really wonderful relationship. This was our second effort.


Bobby Holland produced a record of mine in 2018 “Change The Whole Thing” and he’s one of my dearest friends in Nashville, such a capable mixing engineer too, so I already felt like I’ve got my boys it was such fun to watch them work together because it was the first time that they had collaborated on a project for two very important people in my life so that made me happy. But then we also got to dream up who we wanted to play on this record.

I wasn’t signed at the time and there was no one telling me you need to put this album together by this time, we just wanted to make something awesome. So the dream team, we’ve got Sadler Baden and Chad Gamble, and Zach Campo who was in The Shakes with Ben. Peter Levin who played with Amanda Shires and the Allman Brothers and I had Kyle Lewis and Katlyn Conner who were my touring band in there.


So I felt like I had my dream team and that allowed me to really let these songs unfold. Everyone was really generous with their ideas from a production standpoint. So it just felt like an environment where these songs could blossom as big as they ended up blossoming.


I had a bunch of people saying ‘Let’s go for it!’ and make this really big and cinematic. That’s what this record is all about, it’s about going for it. So I think that all of these things, writing these songs, the process of writing it being different, and then being able to realize the songs with that group of people led to what we got on this record.


Oh, and I need to mention Don Hart who is an incredible arranger and he’s responsible for all the strings that we had on this project, he put all those parts together. We went to Wolf Trap in Virginia and saw Trey Anastasio with an orchestra, Don was there and he arranged all that music. He’s such a talented genius.”

ZB: Your tracks like “Mad Love” featuring John Paul White and “Fake Flowers” stand out on this album. Can you delve into the creative processes behind these specific songs?

MR: “Yeah, of course. Earlier when I was talking about how I wrote all the songs in a short amount of time, “Mad Love” is one I had written a couple of years ago and it has a cool Tarantino, spaghetti western vibe, Lee Hazlewood, Nancy Sinatra thing.

It’s about this really old character, it’s one of those few songs that I think is more like storytelling other than the rest that are more individual. I wanted it to be super-cinematic and the reason I didn’t put it on the last album even though I really loved that song then was because I didn’t know that I was ready to embody that character, and I also think that it fits so well with the sound of this project being more dreamy, orchestral production.

Fake Flowers” which I wrote with Chuck and Claude is just a high-energy super-dynamic, big and wild during the chorus. It has this anger to the words that I don’t feel like I really fully stepped in and that was very rewarding to allow myself to go there. And they’re so good at melodies and we wanted to bring it with that and give me something to sink my teeth into. So, we took a couple of sessions to write that one.”

ZB: “Fake Flowers was my favorite one.”

MR: “Thank you, I always look forward to playing that during the shows.”

ZB: “You’re on your extensive tour supporting No One Gets Out Alive what can fans expect from your live shows, and I know you’re playing SPACE tomorrow.”

MR: “We love SPACE, it’s such a fun room and the audience is always so attentive and they’ve done a great job fostering this culture around live music at SPACE so we keep going back there. Mavis Staples came to our show the last time we were there.

Evanston is so beautiful, I love it! It’s a great place. But being on tour is my favorite thing. The live show dictates so much of how I record an album because I don’t want people to listen to the record and then go to a live show and be like ‘What the hell is this?’ I don’t want there to be a big disparity, and I have the best band ever, I adore each one of them.

I feel like people always say ‘The love jumps off the stage’ and it really is true, we feel lucky to do this. It’s a pretty dynamic show, we’re going to make you dance. We’ll make you feel deeply, but we don’t want to make you cry, but maybe that will happen, I can’t make any promises. It’s a great high-energy show with many great moments that we try to bring you through all the emotions.

I want to mention Fancy Hagood. He’s opening the show. He’s a tremendous artist. He’s been out with us for the entire tour and tomorrow is going to be his last day with us. It’s very bittersweet but people are going to want to catch his show for that reason as well. He’s just released new music and he’s lovely.”

ZB: “Thank you very much for your time, Maggie and we look forward to your show here tomorrow!”

Maggie Rose Discusses No One Gets Out Alive Ahead Of Chicago Performance 1

Maggie Rose- No One Gets Out Alive

On her most ambitious album yet, No One Gets Out Alive, singer-songwriter Maggie Rose proves she’s a true original. Though the electrifying record is her fourth full-length album release, in many ways it feels like her first. No One Gets Out Alive is a knockout career game-changer. Filled with deeply intimate, relatable songs, her masterful storytelling and soulful, powerful voice pulls you in immediately.

The stunning title track sets the scene for the whole record- a master class in contemporary pop craftsmanship that also hearkens back to the golden days of early ‘70s Laurel Canyon. Rose delivers a mesmerizing performance from start to finish. For fans already enthralled by the Nashville-based sensation, No One Gets Out Alive will be deeply satisfying. For those just discovering her, the record is a brilliant introduction. And for Rose herself, it’s the album she always dared herself to make.

For this new record, Maggie Rose surrounded herself with a dream team of esteemed talents she personally handpicked. No One Gets Out Alive marks her second time working with GRAMMY-Award winning producer Ben Tanner. Tanner mixed the record with GRAMMY-nominated Bobby Holland, acting as audio engineer (he also produced some of Rose’s earlier work.)

The songs were recorded fully live with a core group of musicians comprised of some of the most talented mavericks around, including two members of Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, guitarist Sadler Vaden and drummer Chad Gamble, keyboardist Peter Levin (Amanda Shires, Gregg Allman), keyboardist Kaitlyn Connor and guitarist Kyle Lewis from her own band, and bassist Zac Cockrell from Alabama Shakes.

Working with a tight-knit circle of writers, Maggie leaned into her vulnerability and brought her concepts to an ultra-talented group of collaborators who helped bring the songs to fruition.

Songwriters include the heavyweight duo of Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, who have spent over a decade penning hits for the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Bruno Mars among others, Natalie Hemby, a celebrated solo artist and member of The Highwomen, as well as Texas artist Sunny Sweeney, Chris Gelbuda (Meghan Trainor), Pat McLaughlin (John Prine), Cliff Audretch (Hootie & The Blowfish), Henry Brill (Joy Oladokun), Charlotte Sands (JORDY), Jon Santana (Sid Tipton), and Kaitlyn Connor & Kyle Lewis (from her band).

Each day of recording at Nashville’s Starstruck Studios filled Rose with a newfound sense of empowerment and camaraderie. “There was this incredible spirit of collaboration in the room,” she says. “Everybody could speak up, and all ideas were heard. I felt a lot of comfort working with the people I already knew, like Ben and Bobby, who are so brilliant. Zac was on my last record. I’ve done shows with Peter, and Kyle and Kaitlyn are in my touring band. Having Sadler and Chad from the 400 Unit was remarkable – beyond being killer players, they really understood the importance of live performance. Everybody cared deeply about what they were doing, and that meant so much to me.”

Rose enlisted conductor Don Hart whom she long admired for his extensive work with diverse artists such as Phish and Lyle Lovett. Hart oversaw the arrangements and performances of the lush strings that filled so many of the songs with a widescreen cinematic grandeur.

No One Gets Out Alive took a big vision to pull off, and soon after finishing the album, Rose caught the ears of industry titans at Big Loud Records. Though Rose is a respected fixture of the Nashville community (she was recently elected Governor of the Recording Academy’s Nashville Chapter and has played the iconic Grand Ole Opry almost 100 times), Big Loud embraced the unique path she has carved out for herself. Refusing to be pigeonholed in any one genre, Maggie comfortably straddles different worlds as evidenced at such varied festivals as Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and Newport Folk Fest.

“Big Loud dove in headfirst and defied my preconceived notions of what I’d come to expect from a big label; they didn’t’ want me to change the album I had made or ‘chase’ the trends. They understood the vision and believed in me from the outset.”

The music deals in a variety of both dark and uplifting overarching themes– disillusionment in relationships, getting older, ageism, female empowerment and living in the moment, among them.

She took her first steps on this new journey on the luminous, theatrical pop gem “Vanish”. Backed by a sweeping string section that takes flight along with her enchanting vocals, Rose deftly evokes the influence of Carole King, Elton John and the Beatles. “’Vanish’ pretty much kickstarted the making of this album,” she explains. “The song is about something I think we’ve all dealt with, the breakdown of a relationship you thought would last forever. My solace came in the form of the song.”

As she wrote, Rose was struck by how frequently the topic of fractured relationships– both romantic and platonic– cropped up in her material. “So often we don’t want to let go of someone because we consider it a failure,” she says. “But sometimes a relationship has run its course, and by letting go you can travel a little lighter and brighter moving forward.”

One of her biggest revelations– that time is fleeting, and you’d better get on with your life– came with the title track. “The phrase ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ sounds ominous, but the song is filled with hope and urgency.” Rose says. “I’ve come to realize that there are things I can’t control, but I still need to enjoy my reality, which is wonderful. I want people to hear the song and stop dwelling on what they’re missing out on– the present is all you have, so make the most of it.”

The righteous and rousing “Fake Flowers” is another standout. Amid the swirl of a gospel laced B3 organ and crisp, biting electric guitars, Rose comes on like a full-throated blues titan. It’s a powerful star turn– each line sung uniquely and with extraordinary assurance– that brings the house down. “With this song, I let myself be angry and didn’t worry about softening the edges for anyone. That was freeing for me.”

“Underestimate Me” is soaked in swampy, bluesy mojo that calls to mind Little Feat, gathering steam as the song progresses. By the end the whole band is throwing around anything that isn’t nailed to the floor. Rose comes on with sassy grit and cool fury, and as she notes, the lyrics share a through line with her podcast Salute the Songbird with Maggie Rose: “I always ask women, ‘What’s your superpower?’ Many of them say that they feel being underestimated is their superpower, because they just blow people’s expectations out of the water.”

Rose’s spellbinding vibrato on “Mad Love” could haunt you for days. The turbulent, torchy showstopper is highlighted by Sadler Vaden’s echo-drenched spaghetti western licks and goosebumps-inducing guest vocals by John Paul White. Likewise, “Lonely War” lodges itself in the thicket of your senses, but for wholly different reasons. Co-writing with Henry Brill, Rose addresses two momentous days in recent history (the day that George Floyd was murdered, and the overturn of Roe v. Wade) without preachiness or heavy-handed sentiment.

The wistful “Under the Sun” is poised to be a future soundtrack to warm, summer days. “Dead Weight” is an empowering., rousing anthem where Rose shines along with her band. The smooth, comfy blanket of sound on the album closer, “Another Sad Song”, is nurturing stuff– the gentle piano progression blends with airy guitar lines while the string section wraps around Rose’s incandescent voice.

Rose has been hailed for her passionate individualism, proudly infusing her music with influences spanning rock, soul, Americana, folk, and funk. Maggie is a true road warrior. She has shared the stage with an impressive array of artists including Kelly Clarkson, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Heart, Joan Jett, Eric Church, Gov’t Mule, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Mavericks, Fitz & The Tantrums, and The Revivalists among others. She also joined forces with Duane Betts for a 2023 summer tour after the two spent time playing together in the renowned Allman Family Revival tour honoring the legendary catalog of music from the Allman Brothers.

With unflinching honesty, Maggie Rose approaches everything authentically and completely. With No One Gets Out Alive, she emerges as a singular artist with her own sound and her own way of telling her stories, unencumbered by genre specifics. “I’ve had some wonderful moments throughout my career, and I’ve been lucky to connect with fans while traveling on the path to self-discovery. My excitement surrounding this moment and this project really does make it feel like a new beginning.”

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