The Roosevelts

“It’s rock – with a mandolin.”

Though it’s virtually impossible to classify the thoroughly unique entity that is The Roosevelts, this statement by guitarist Jason Kloess certainly tells part of the story. As one half of the electric duo along with singer James Mason, the two brothers in song – not blood, though maybe beards – have been playing together for years and cultivating a sound that’s a little bluesy, a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Sure, there’s some mandolin in there. But most importantly, there’s no bells, no whistles, no sparkly wallet chains: just heartfelt, genuine music that belongs to them alone, not any genre.

“We hope our music will break your heart and make you shout for joy, all at the same time,” says Kloess. And it certainly will. Formed in 2012 when Mason and Kloess were introduced through a mutual friend in their current hometown of Austin, Texas, they’ve followed their natural inclination to write songs that tap into pure emotion shaped with jubilant musicianship and introspective lyrics, building a devoted fan base along the way – a fan base that Mason and Kloess often make sure to chat with on a first-name basis out in the crowd as much as from the stage. Because this is a band about breaking down walls, not building them up.

But The Roosevelts actually almost never came to be. Mason was ready to purse a career in medicine, pondering graduate school after working as a medic on ambulances and as a lobbyist in healthcare policy. While both he and Kloess had played music since their youth, it had always just been for the joy of it – it was upon a roommate’s urging that he decided to take the plunge and give Austin a trial shot before committing to a future in the medical field. It was a gamble, but a good one.

“Even for my first two years in Austin, I wasn’t sure if I wanted a career in music,” says Mason, “but from the moment we became and recorded as The Roosevelts, I knew it would become my career.” The past year has seen the band debut their song “Cold Sheets” on CMT and tour extensively as they prepare for the release of their debut full-length album.

Kloess, who had begun his musical journey on piano, and Mason, who “caught the bug” in high school, bonded in Austin over a mutual love of the same influences: the song writing of James Taylor, the keen lyricism of Ryan Adams, the heartfelt soul of Matt Nathanson. And, of course, their southern roots – Mason hails from Houston, Texas and Kloess from Birmingham, Alabama – which brings a country flair to their work that’s more about time-honored harmonies and illuminating lyrics than anything particularly twangy. Though they aren’t brothers, there’s a clear brotherhood that emanates from the music – one listen to the way their voices ring together, and it seems they were destined to be a band.

Or maybe it’s a little more simple. “It really was just his beautiful beard that attracted me to him,” says Kloess, laughing. Certainly, their sense of humor and lighthearted approach to life is a pillar of their identity. After joining forces, they wrote over fifty songs together, narrowing the work down to a succinct, acclaimed EP, Cold Sheets, for which they partnered with producer Dwight Baker. The collection of tracks showcases their strengths as a unit: smart, soulful grooves with crisp harmonies and sweetly infectious refrains that could fill living rooms just as easily as stadiums.

“I think James is really good at writing lyrics, and I’m better at doing more composition and arrangement, and those two together ware a nice harmony for us,” says Kloess. Adds Mason, ” We kind of complete the package together. Jason is a more technical player. I never took any lessons, it was always just learning what chords look like and putting my fingers in the right places and singing songs. And for Jason, there was more technical skill involved with playing lead guitar, he knew the theory, and I didn’t have that.”

The place where their individual talents meet is one full of heartfelt, southern charm that artfully tackles a common theme: relationships. Whether it’s love or something else, their music often taps into this relatable human experience. “A lot of our songs are kind of geared around love or heartbreak or um…pretty much love or heartbreak,” Kloess laughs. Adds Mason, “I think certainly when one listens on the surface, the word “love” is mentioned a lot, but I think the word ‘love’ is not always completely related to traditional love. I think it’s about relationships. Relationships really inspire our songs, and of course, some of the easiest relationships to write about, if you’re digging in, are romantic ones. But the inspiration is not always romantic. It’s about connecting with people.”

Relating and interacting with others is a huge part of The Roosevelts. Mason and Kloess love to meet and get to know their fans, and even have found that to be one of the most crucial, rewarding parts of the process. For Mason, these interpersonal relationships have been an element of the music that provide a similar reward that he longed for in a medical career.
“The hardest part of consciously allowing myself to let go of medicine was the loss of the sensation that I was actually helping people,” Mason says. “Although I’m not saving lives with music, I have found that this platform allows me to connect with people on a deeper level than most other professions. There’s something powerful, and at times healing, in these relationships.”

For their fans, the healing comes in the music – cathartic, joyful, full of life and light. It’s unique, it’s the Roosevelts, it’s rock – with a mandolin.

$10.00 - $16.00


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