For London-bred band BONES UK, every song is a chance to speak their minds, and to shed light on the disconnect between the status quo and the far more glorious world inside their heads. On their self-titled debut album, vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg confront everything from the beauty industrial complex to toxic masculinity to music-scene sexism, embedding each track with choruses primed for passionate shouting-along. BONES UK offer up an album that’s both provocative and endlessly exhilarating, even in its most outraged moments.
True to the L.A.-based band’s anti-conformist spirit, BONES UK unfolds with an entirely uncontainable sound, a riff-heavy collision of rock-and-roll and rough-edged electronic music. On the album-opening “Beautiful Is Boring,” BONES UK bring artful riffs and sinister grooves to a feverish statement against societal expectations of beauty. “We’re living in an era when everyone’s being airbrushed into looking all the same, when really it’s imperfections that make you beautiful,” says Rosie. On “Filthy Freaks,” the band twists the narrative to an all-out celebration of the perfectly imperfect, the song’s bright tempo and surf-rock rhythms backed by Rosie’s brazen lyrics (e.g., “I like your leather/But I like it better on my floor”).
Growing up in Italy, Carmen began playing violin at age five, but soon felt compelled to take up guitar. “My dad played me a VHS of Woodstock, and when I saw Jimi Hendrix I just went, That’s what I wanna do,” she recalls. Classically trained in guitar from age six, she later ventured into blues and rock, eventually crossing paths with Rosie after playing a 2014 gig at a blues bar in Camden. “I went up to her afterward and we drank several bottles of whiskey, and we pretty much started playing together right away,” says Rosie. Born and raised in London, Rosie had gotten her start as a drummer but switched to guitar as a tool for her songwriting. “It’s always been all about the lyrics for me—using songs to tell stories and paint a picture, in a way that actually says something about the world,” she notes. Rosie also designs all the artwork for BONES UK, with the band working together to create each of their outrageously cinematic videos.
After recruiting Filippo (a former classmate of Carmen’s at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Surrey), BONES UK began pushing toward the complexity that now defines their music. “We all come from such different backgrounds, and BONES UK is the amalgamation of that,” says Carmen. “When we realized what we could create together, it was like we didn’t have a choice—we had to just keep going.” Moving to L.A. in 2017, the band made their name as an explosive live act, soon taking the stage at major festivals like Lollapalooza and touring with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and The Cult.
BONES UK now see their live set as the ideal medium for their ever-expanding message, a vehicle for both catharsis and transformation. “Music is the most powerful platform you could possibly have, because it has the potential to move people in so many ways,” says Rosie. “We feel like we have a duty to use our platform to talk about the things we care about, and hopefully end up empowering and inspiring people, and help give them the confidence to be who they really are.”