Planetary Group took some time to get to know brothers Michael and Jonathan Rosen, the two members of Cones…
Planetary Group: Tell us about your latest release. How did you come to create it?
Michael: Our latest release is called Almanac, and it’s our second record. We made it here at my studio called Honeymoon Suite.
The record was made starting at the beginning of the pandemic. This studio was kind of a sanctuary for us, in that it was the only place we could go to other than our own homes. And we’d spent a lot of time here just writing and recording.
The difference with this record over previous ones was that collaboration was really just kind of between us; mostly because a lot of musicians couldn’t come into the studio. So we were here a lot of the time, just us two. At certain points we could bring some people in, but a lot of the times we were sending tracks out: sending a song out for our drummer to drum to, our bassist to play to. So it was a very different experience, very unique. And I think the record really reflects that.
PG: Share a bit about your musical journey, from when you first started making music until now.
Jonathan: Michael and I have been playing in various bands for a very long time. We’re brothers. Our first band was called The Froggies, and we were in second and either third or fourth grade. We didn’t have any songs, but we had a band name. And we’ve been working together ever since.
Michael: Our musical musical backgrounds are pretty different in that I have always been pretty technically-minded with music. I’m a classical musician – that’s what I studied in college. And Jonathan actually started music much later, in high school. He was much more into music as a listener before becoming a music maker. Jonathan’s the lyricist of the group, the songwriter, and he’s always been. I think that’s what is so complimentary about us.
PG: Let’s talk about the music that you love. Pick one album for each category below & tell us a bit about it!
- An album you grew up listening to:
Jonathan: We chose for each other… For Michael, I chose AFI. One time Michael was talking about AFI and he quoted “Strength Through Wounding”, so I know that that record was really influential for him. He had AFI posters all over the walls.
Michael: For Jonathan, I’m gonna go just with Elvis as a figure. Jonathan was obsessed with Elvis, like completely obsessed. There’s a photo of Jonathan with an Elvis shirt that goes down to his shoes. And he would never take that shirt off.
- An album that inspires you as an artist (I’m sure there are many, but pick one of your choosing):
Jonathan: I’ve been in a deep Weezer phase. The lyrics are just so insane and personal. And I know Rivers regretted them terribly, but like, it’s just a dude in a very intense moment of questioning and self doubt and insecurity – those are all the reasons why he regrets making that record. But I think sonically and lyrically, the vulnerability that he shows on that record is very admirable. It shaped my youth for sure.
Michael: There are a lot of other records that maybe have shaped me more, but the one that comes to mind is Kid A. I’m a huge Radiohead fan as many people are, but I think it was an amazing bridge for them as a record. And not just for them, but for bridging the popular rock music of the time into more experimental electronic music like Björk.
- The album you currently have on repeat:
Jonathan: Domingo by Gal Costa and Caetano Veloso. It was a joint record they made together, and it gets me through any feeling that I have. It’s literally just melted butter in your ears.
Michael: Mine is A Tabua De Esmeralda by Jorge Ben Jor. It’s a kind of deep cut Jorge Ben Jor record. I’m a huge fan of Brazilian Tropicalia and Bossa nova, and that’s the peak.
PG: What do you want people to take away from your music?
Jonathan: I want people to connect through our music, to have a moment of connection to some positive childhood memory that maybe was dormant, make them feel in touch with something nostalgic.
Michael: Jonathan and I both were fortunate to grow up in San Francisco, a city where there were a lot of amazing new touring bands. We got to see one of the best shows we were ever at: Arcade Fire on their first tour. At least for me, that show is a main reason why I’ve pushed so much in music. I want to hopefully make music for people that are growing up and wanting to learn and make music of their own.
What’s next up for you?
Jonathan: I’m moving to San Francisco in a week to teach fourth to eighth grade art. I spent all year getting my masters’ in teaching. The pandemic put us all on different paths a little bit. We haven’t played a show since right before the pandemic.
I haven’t written much music recently, but I play guitar all the time and I know that whatever happens, wherever we are, my brother and I will always be close and we’ll always be making music. I fully expect to make another record within the next year and a half.
Michael: I think that, for some bands, you arrive at your second, your third album, and you go on side projects and explore what you need to explore to come back to whatever your voice is as a band. I think by virtue of the fact that we are brothers and will always be brothers, Cones is always gonna exist. Our side projects right now are different pursuits in the world. And I think that will very much inform whatever we do next in a really positive way.
We will come back strong with whatever we make next, from a very different perspective.