“We’re really hungover,” groans Rosie Bones, singer and guitarist of self-proclaimed “future-rock” duo Bones UK. It’s fair enough, really – if you’d been nominated for your first Grammy, you might hit the bar too. And, if you were a member of a relatively unknown band tipped against heavy hitters like Karen O, Rival Sons and Brittany Howard in the Best Rock Performance category, you’d probably start drinking at dawn and end the night at a Hollywood “weird little after-party rave thing”, just like Bones UK.
“It is fair enough!” agrees Rosie on the phone from LA, where she and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg have been based since 2017, after moving from their home in London’s Camden. The enthusiasm in her voice comes booming down the line, landing at the other end with an infectious thwack. If you’re already familiar with Bones UK – and if you’re not you soon will be – you’ll know they go hard on everything, be that making the riff-roaring, message-filled rock bangers that make up their self-titled debut album or post-celebration interviews like this one.
We caught up with Rosie and Carmen as they tried to process their big news and shake their monstrous hangovers.
How did you found out about your Grammy nomination?
Rosie Bones: “We’d been out ’til about 4am and then at 5am the head of our label texted Carmen like: ‘Emergency, call me right now’. She called him…”
Carmen Vandenberg: “I thought he’d been in an accident or hit his head or something!”
RB: “So Carmen got told and was like, ‘Oh, I’ll tell Rosie in the morning’ but then still woke me up. I told her to fuck off ‘cos I was asleep! We live with our producer so we went and woke him up and at 6am we made Bloody Marys.”
CV: “And then we called our parents.”
What does the whole thing mean to you guys?
RB: “It’s completely fucking stupid but, as a creative person and an artist, you spend a lot of time keeping your head down and doing your thing and working as hard as you possibly can. We focus so much on that but now and then, as pathetically human as it is, to have a bit of validation from an external force is fucking nice. So we’re going to enjoy that for two seconds before we get back to work tomorrow.”
What will you do if you win?
RB: “It doesn’t even matter! It’s so exciting. Just being a nominee is so fucking cool. If we win – fucking Christ. We’re just trying to work out what we’re gonna wear!”
You made the decision a couple of years ago to emphasise having fun rather than chasing milestones of success, like awards. How has that changed things for you?
RB: “The only thing you can control is your own work, so all we want to do is keep our heads down, work fucking hard, and if those things come to us – amazing, but it’s not the pillars that we base this project on. Those are wanting to say something interesting, wanting to make amazing videos, wanting to empower people in whatever way we can… Those are the important things for us.”
You’ve also spoken about wanting to create a world around Bones UK. How would you describe the Bones world to people who are just discovering you now?
CV: “We wanna empower people. So it’s creating a safe space for people to express whatever they wanna say with their art.”
Your debut album covers beauty standards and sexism. That safe place must make it more important for you to write songs with strong messages.
RB: “Absolutely. We want to use our platform, no matter how big or small, to say something interesting. It’s about using our own experiences to make other people feel like they’ve got a safe place in us. We want to make people feel as confident as possible and happy with themselves, and not to feel this pressure continually to be someone that they’re not or change for people. We’ve felt that fucking pressure and we don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”
You said you were getting back to work tomorrow. Are you working on new music?
CV: “We’ve got a 10am flight tomorrow. We’re going to do some writing in Lake Tahoe so we can do some work on album two.”
RB: “We’ve got some very special ideas and we just want to go away for a little bit and be in nature and write some cool music. We started writing album two on the day album one came out so we wanna keep moving. Especially with this, it’s so fucking cool! We need to write more, better songs so we can get more Grammy nominations!”
What else is next for Bones UK?
RB: “Oh my god. OK, we’re going on tour with Korn for two months, which is hilarious. It’s going to be fucking amazing. Then we’ve a couple of tours that have just come in, which are SO exciting and will be announced soon, and then festivals. On the day the Grammys nominations came out, we literally got an offer from one of our favourite bands in the entire universe so we’re gonna be going on tour with them.”
What a great day!
RB: “Oh, it was ridiculous. We’re so excited. We’re going to do some very cool things. We’re so happy! We went to see our friend from England and he showed us this thing in The Guardian that was like “and surprise [nominee] Camden band Bones UK”. We were like, ‘Fucking yeah!’ Representing Camden and London. We’ll do what we can to get as drunk as possible at the Grammys and big it up for England. There’ll be a lot of ‘WHEEEY!'”
Bones UK’s self-titled debut album is out now. Find out if they win Best Rock Performance for ‘Pretty Waste’ at the Grammys 2020 on January 31