Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Photos and interview by James Damion

Paul Rosevear first caught Jersey Beat's ear back when he fronted The Blakes, who emerged in the early 2000's at a time when music collectives like Artist Amplification and Stop & Smell The Locals helped coalesce a robust and diverse scene in the Garden State. The Blakes soon morphed into Readymade Breakup, who reigned as one of the most reliable and entertaining indie-rock acts in the area for more than a decade. These days, Paul records and performs as a solo act, as well as with his longtime musical partner G.E. in the Vice Rags. Jersey Beat's James Damion knows Paul better than most; they weren't just neighbors but lived on the same floor in Hoboken at one time; and on James' last visit to New Jersey, they ran into each other at an Asbury Park coffee shop. Small world, indeed. James tracked Paul down to catch up with this multi-talented songwriter, musician, and now, teacher. - Jim Testa

Q: I have to say that running into you in Asbury Park during our last visit back east was one of the highlights of our visit. Staying with family saves us a lot of money, but being so far south keeps us from seeing old friends and visiting our favorite haunts that lie further west. What was it that brought you in to that particular Asbury Park coffee shop on that particular day?

Paul: The feeling is mutual! Loved running into you and catching up. I hang in Café Volan all the time, best coffee shop in town.

Q: You just purchased a home in Rutherford. What brought you to the area and where had you lived since leaving Hoboken?

Paul; We bounced from Hoboken to the West Village to the East Village then back to Hoboken then over to Paulus Hook in Jersey City then up to Jersey City Heights. Loved ‘em all. When it was time to find a place to raise the girls, Rutherford hit the sweet spot—a quiet, quaint, quirky little town close to NYC that people weren’t really buzzing about. That’s always a good sign to me.

Q: The last time I had run into you and Dawn, you were expecting your first child. Now we’re talking about a second. How do the responsibilities of family and a new home effect or play into your songwriting?

Paul: Being a family man has made everything better. The songs are better because you’re deeper into life. And there’s less worrying about your hair cut or trying to be in with the cool scene. You have just enough time get one more verse down before somebody needs their tushie wiped or a partner for Candy Land.

The Vice Rags, photo courtesy of the band

Q: You’re currently teaching songwriting at Lakehouse Music Academy. How did that opportunity present itself?

Paul: I’ve known Jon Liedersdorf, founder of Lakehouse, for many years. He called me about a year and a half ago asking if I wanted to teach. I’d just been let go from a job, so the timing was perfect, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Q: Teaching, at any level, can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Can you tell us a little bit about your methods and of course, your students?

Paul: Guy Clark once said the only way to learn to write a song is to write a song. And I tend to agree. So really my lessons are probably closer to co-writing sessions than formal lessons. My students learn by doing. I love sharing whatever tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

Q: You’ve been teaching for a year now. What has the experience taught you?

Paul: If anything, it’s confirmed what I’ve believed all along—that music is for everyone. I hate when people dismiss those who don’t seem to have “traditional” talent. I don’t buy that. Anybody can write a song. We all have something to say. I’ve seen people of every age and every and experience level write tunes with more heart and insight into the human condition than so-called “serious” artists.

Q: You also decided to start a blog sharing tips and ideas on songwriting. Can you share a little background on it?

Paul: There are some really cool books from writers in the advertising world that teach lessons on creativity—one that comes to mind is Paul Arden’s Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite. They’re full of these short, pithy, Zen-like teachings on craft, simplicity, big-idea thinking, process, etc. I haven’t seen anything like that in the world of songwriting. So that’s sort of the model I’m going for. I’ve made about a half-dozen posts so far, but I’m going to keep experimenting. Hop over to and have a look. And if anybody has a topic or question they’d like me to muse on, email

Q: In your opinion. What do you feel are the first and possibly the biggest mistakes someone makes when penning a song?

Paul: Trying too hard. That’s always the killer. But paradoxically, it’s hard not to try hard. It’s sort of like Picasso, you know how his style devolved over time until he was basically doing child-like scrawls at the end of his life? That’s the goal. But you gotta acquire the craft first. It’s the old learn-the-rules-so-you-can-break-them idea.

Q: I’ve seen you perform both Readymade Breakup and solo acoustic. Can you describe the differences between performing with the band to performing acoustic in perhaps a more intimate setting?

Paul: With the band, the chemistry is between me and the other band members. We’re feeding off each other and it’s a spectacle that the audience is witnessing. But I when I perform solo, the audience functions as the band in a way. They’re more involved in the performance, it’s more participatory.

Q: What’s the most important thing you learned being a member of Readymade Breakup or being part of a group in general?

Paul: Two things. All for one, one for all. That’s the attitude. You gotta be in it together, it’s like a gang. Otherwise you can’t take risks, you’re too worried what the other guys are thinking. And second, practice once a week. If you don’t practice once a week you don’t have a band.

Q: The Vice Rags are somewhat of a departure from what you’ve done in the past. What drew you to make music with this particular cast and what can we expect from it?

Paul: Tris McCall wrote that we sounded like a “high speed Turnpike collision between Tom Petty and gutter punk.” I thought that was awesome. I grew up with Joe in North Brunswick, GE grew up with Jack in Hillsborough, and many bands and years later all four of our paths crossed again. We put one EP out on Mint 400 Records (“Hope the Neighbors Are Lookin’”).

Q: I recall sitting on our building’s roof, sharing a beer and talking about your first solo effort. I understand that you’re somehow finding time to focus on solo material. Can you share some thoughts/information on your upcoming solo acoustic album, Pearl, as well as the upcoming Halls of Time?

Paul: Pearl is a good one to listen to when you’re driving. I actually made CDs because that’s where I wanted people to listen to it. It’s real raw, just guitar and voice, recorded live. But a super high-quality recording—I recorded it at the Magic Shop in NYC before it closed, RIP.

Halls of Time is the working title for my next solo thing. Still just a hazy idea off in the corner of my eye. I’m always writing though, collecting ideas. I’ll probably take a stab at recording it sometime later this year.

Q: Getting back to The Vice Rags, I was watching the video for “Jersey Boy”. Though it’s a straight up performance video. It reminded me a lot of the D.I.Y. garage and basement shows I miss from back east. The checkered floor even reminded me of our kitchen tiles back in Hoboken. Can you tell us where it was filmed, by who and your feelings regarding making a music video?

Paul: We filmed that at the Hot Dog House on Cookman Ave in Asbury Park, where we rehearse. Jack, the guitar player in the Vice Rags, shot it. In general, music videos are pretty uncharted territory for me. I don’t really watch them. And when somebody points a camera at me I go straight up deer in the headlights. But I’m working on it. With how visual music has gotten, it’s definitely an area where I need to up my game.

Q: So, what’s next for you and your music?

Paul: There's so much exciting stuff on the horizon. I'm working with a young artist named Hannah Whitcomb right now on her first EP—great songwriter & artist, can't wait for that to come out. There's a nearly-finished Vice Rags single that I'm eager to wrap up and release. And just in general I'm psyched about collaborating with more writers and artists. Making stuff together is the greatest feeling in the world.

Visit to read Paul's blog and find information on upcoming music and gigs.


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