Madder Rose

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Madder Rose
OriginNew York City
GenresAlternative rock
Years active1991 (1991)–1999 (1999)
LabelsSeed Records, Atlantic Records
MembersMary Lorson, Billy Cote, Johnny Kick, Matt Verta-Ray, Chris Giammalvo

Madder Rose was a New York City-based alternative rock band who recorded in the 1990s. After a 20 year hiatus, a new album is scheduled for release in August 2019.[1] The band was fronted by Mary Lorson, who shared songwriting duties with guitarist Billy Coté. The two singer/songwriters continued their collaboration after Madder Rose disbanded, Coté as guest producer on Lorson's three discs with Saint Low, Lorson as guest vocalist on Coté's Jazz Cannon disc. Lorson and Coté have also created the original scores to several films, notably HBO's documentary of Sally Mann, and in 2008 released a disc with Kathy Ziegler as The Piano Creeps. The name Madder Rose came from the herb-based paint rose madder. Many of their songs, including "Panic On" and "Car Song", were featured in John Peel's end-of-year round-up, the Festive Fifty, major feature films, and television shows. The band released three albums on Atlantic Records, and one on Cooking Vinyl, before breaking up in 1999.


The band was formed in 1991 in a Greenwich Village apartment, after Billy Coté, the band's songwriter, was informed by a mutual friend that a woman named Mary Lorson was looking for a project.[2] They released their debut album, Bring it Down, in 1993 on Atlantic Records' quasi-independent label Seed Records, followed by the Swim EP later that year on the same label.[3] Originally Atlantic had asked to sign them, but Lorson turned them down. In an interview with The Miscellany News, she said she did so because she was "just too intimidated."[4] The band's ascent to relative fame was secured when they landed a main stage appearance at the 1993 Reading Festival,[2][5] and by the critical acclaim Bring it Down received shortly after its release, including reviews in the Chicago Tribune and being ranked as one of the top 10 albums of the year by the College Media Journal.[4] Panic On was released on Atlantic Records in 1994.


Their music has been described as suggesting druggy languor, which inspired the British music press to trumpet Madder Rose as the second coming of the Velvet Underground.[6] A 1994 review in Rolling Stone characterized their sound as an "alloy" of grunge and "the buttercup sighs of The Cranberries".[7] Their sound progressed from indie pop rock, not unlike peers Velocity Girl, Lush, Helium and Juliana Hatfield, to shoegaze and trip-hop.

Madder Rose members included Billy Coté (guitar), Mary Lorson (vocals, guitar), Matt Verta-Ray (bass, vocals), Rick Kubic aka Johnny Kick (drums, vocals) and Chris Giammalvo (bass).

After the breakup, Lorson founded the alt-folk outfit Saint Low, which featured Coté on guitar and production duties, releasing its eponymous debut in 2000. This was followed, under the name Mary Larson & Saint Low, by Tricks For Dawn (2002) and Realistic (2006). 2011 saw the release of Burn Baby Burn under the name Mary B. Lorson & The Soubrettes.

Coté released an album (Amateur Soul Surgery, 2000) and two twelve inch singles as The Jazz Cannon with vocalist Don Greene, which also feature vocal contributions from Lorson. Coté subsequently released an album with vocalist/songwriter Uniit Carruyo under the name "Glen The Owl" (also featuring vocal contributions from Lorson) which, like the early Madder Rose releases, featured sleeve art by Coté.

Coté and Lorson together released a largely instrumental album Piano Creeps under their own names on Cooking Vinyl in 2003. Coté, Lorson and multi-instrumentalist Kathy Zeigler then released an album as The Piano Creeps in 2008, called Future Blues (For Me and You), on The Kora Records.[8]

Currently, Madder Rose founder Billy Coté works occasionally with Johnny Dowd. He has guested on guitar on each of Dowd's last two records. Together they have contributed the song "Bound For Hell" to a Love and Rockets' tribute album, New Tales to Tell, and another, "Constant Waiting", to We Are Only Riders, a Jeffrey Lee Pierce tribute collection. Billy Coté has also featured on moog and guitars with Evi Vine on her second album, due out in late 2013.

In February 2015, Coté indicated that he expected to release new Madder Rose material.[9] A new album entitled To Be Beautiful was released by Trome Records on 10 September 2019.[1]



Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Beautiful John" (single) (1993)
  • "Swim" EP (1993)
  • "Car Song" EP (1994)
  • "The Love You Save" EP (1995)


  1. ^ a b "To Be Beautiful, by Madder Rose". Trome Records.
  2. ^ a b Iwasaki, Scott (27 May 1994). "madder rose will show s.l. that not being boring matters". Deseret News. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. ^ Testa, Jim; Sprague, David. "Madder Rose". Trouser Press. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Delson, William (22 April 1994). "Chatting with Madder Rose". The Miscellany News. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Reading Festival Directory: M". Archived from the original on March 25, 2014.
  6. ^ "Madder Rose". Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  7. ^ Manning, Kara (30 June 1994). "Panic On Review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 17 May 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  8. ^ "The Piano Creeps". Kora Records. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  9. ^ Fenchel, Luke Z. "Coté and Mains: Loops and Topiaries". Ithaca Times. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 342. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]