TFW got to sit down with Roxane Hopper, bass player in The Room Outside, for a short Q and A. The Santa Fe, N.M.- based band — that also includes her younger sister Karrie Hopper (songwriter/guitar/singer) and drummer Loren Bienvenu — will be making their debut in Fayetteville on Nov. 11.
Those familiar with Hopper’s 2007 solo album “An Unusual Move” will recognize her distinctive voice and captivating eerie harmonies, but now that she’s switched to electric guitar and is playing with a band the sound is richer and a little jagged, reflecting the vivid, harsh beauty of the high desert.
It’s no coincidence that this is their first tour as they have also just released their first, self-titled album (available for download at theroomoutside.bandcamp.com for $8). They’ll be selling physical copies when they play Monday, Nov. 11, at Maxine’s Tap Room on Block Street at 8 p.m. for free, with local band Fire & Flood.
Q: I know that Karrie’s been involved in several music projects before, but have you ever played in any other bands before? Is this your first time playing music with your younger sister?
A: Nope! The only other band I’ve been in was also with Karrie. It was a short-lived project called The World Went Home that began in ‘98. There were seven of us at the start with two drummers. [My husband] Thomas was one and two of us were still in high school. I played a bit of guitar, keys, and violin. We were experimental, very inspired by the likes of Godspeed You! Black Emporer and Dirty Three, no vocals. We played only once at a place called Tacoland in San Antonio. Band members Julie McKendrick and Leanne Macomber continued the project in Denton, Texas, and carried on with a new sound. They are both now on to some really great projects— Christian! Teenage Runaway, Vulgar Fashion, Neon Indian, Fight Bite, and Ejecta. I have found home playing with others again and have fallen deeply in love with the bass.
Q: How did you decide on the name the Room Outside?
A: We have a friend named Bette Vaninetti. She is 90 years-old and her interests are also our interests— plants, rocks, romance, the world outside. Anyway, she has an amazing and extensive library and we basically poured over it for inspiration. The name The Room Outside came from her bookshelves. It professes expansiveness and wonder and the fact that it comes from our dear Bette holds great significance.
Q: What are some of your influences as a bass player?
A: What drew me to the bass and my influences in songwriting for The Room Outside are different. Bass lines I have always resonated most with are found in classic country and reggae. Listening to Warpaint on a road trip with Karrie made me want to pick up the bass. Carefully listening to Loren and Karrie is what inspires the bass lines in The Room Outside. There are lots of chord changes and harmonies, which makes things fun.
Q: How much do you think the landscape in New Mexico, especially the landscape of the high desert around Santa Fe, informs the band’s music? Is one of the goals of the band to incorporate the landscape?
A: Of course we want to incorporate the joyful, epic, mysterious beauty that is New Mexico. Our songwriting as a band is moving more and more in this direction.
Q: This is the band’s first tour. What are some of the band’s favorite snacks and favorite bands to listen to?
A: Grapes and cheese, pickles, lime potato chips, Stevie Wonder, New Age classics and also Marc Maron’s “WTF” [podcast].