October Rose Shares “A Different Kind of High”
“It’s kind of like if Jason Aldean and Carrie Underwood formed a duo or if Lady Antebellum met a rock band in the middle.” That’s the self-described sound of Leanne Weiss and Derek Allan, relative new-comers to the country music scene. Although the two of them each had separate singing careers prior to meeting one another, their chemistry was almost instantaneous. They quickly discovered that their voices blended well in a harmonious melody. That's the essence of October Rose.
Since the release of their debut single, “Heartbreak Song,” October Rose has continued to grow a large fan base. They have shared the stage as opening acts with the likes of Jake Owen, Russell Dickerson, and Jordan Davis. Now they have teamed with New York-based nonprofit organization Shatterproof to release their current single, “Different Kind of High.” The main objective of Shatterproof is to remove the stigma of addiction so that more resources can be made available to fight it and the song highlights the struggles those with addiction face.
Leanne and Derek were so kind to spend time chatting with me about October Rose and “Different Kind of High.” In one 45 minute chat, I was able to determine that they work well together and genuinely enjoy one another’s company. They also have a great sense of humor. When I asked them how they feel about the controversy in the country music industry over the lack of females on mainstream radio airplay, Leanne said that she has definitely noticed a disparity and Derek noted that there aren’t too many duos on the radio anymore either, especially male and female. They joked that their most common question is whether or not they are dating since they are a duo, to which my response was a request for an answer as we laughed about people assuming they are a couple. It turns out that they are dating and that streaming numbers don’t lie. Female acts and duos, such as October Rose, are on a path paved for success. There’s no disparity between what country fans listen to.
Enjoy more of the question and answer session below. When you’re through, check out the October Rose links to read more from the interview, learn more about the duo, and find out how to get involved with Shatterproof.
"Different Kind of High"
Don't cry, don't cry. Just fold your hands and look up to the sky. She's a different kind of high.— October Rose "Different Kind of High"
Shannon Henry: Where are you based?
Derek Allan: We float back and forth between New Jersey and Nashville. Leanne is originally from New Jersey and I am from Pittsburgh.
SH: “Different Kind of High” is not what I expected it to be. It’s sad and heart-wrenching, yet also hopeful. Please tell the story behind “Different Kind of High.”
Leanne Weiss: We wrote the song about two years ago. We kind of had this haunting melody, but for some reason, the story in the song just came out. We were inspired by stories in the news and the opiate epidemic. We wrote it to bring awareness to the epidemic and we just happened to release it during this whole pandemic. So it’s interesting, but tens of thousands of people die from a drug overdose every year.
DA: I’m from Western Pennsylvania and there’s a big problem where I come from. We felt like it’s something a lot of people have been living with - losing friends and family to this kind of epidemic that’s happening. We wanted to address it because it didn’t feel like anyone else had been doing it, especially in country music. So it’s been in the works for about a year. We just happened to release it at a time when this other tragic thing is happening.
SH: How did the two of you become a duo?
LW: Back in 2016, I was performing as a solo artist in the New York City and New Jersey area and I got a message on Facebook from this guy named Derek. He reached out and said he was new to the area and that he’d come check out one of my shows and that he was looking to make friends. He came to my show in New Jersey and wound up sitting next to my mom.
DA: Yeah, she talked her daughter up and I knew for sure I had to meet her.
LW: So I saw my mom talking to this guy and was like, “Oh, that’s the guy Derek that’s been messaging me.” So we intended to just write a song together since we both had solo careers at the time, but we realized we have chemistry singing together and went all-in with the duo. By October of 2016, we were October Rose country duo.
SH: How did you choose your name?
LW: It was tough to come up with a name. It took about a month. We played around with a lot of names that sounded like Little League baseball names.
DA: We decided to go with things that meant a lot to our families. My grandma’s first name is Rose and Leanne’s mother’s middle name is Rose…..and it happened to be October. Leanne saw the calendar and suggested October Rose.
We decided to go with things that meant a lot to our families. My grandma’s first name is Rose and Leanne’s mother’s middle name is Rose…..and it happened to be October. Leanne saw the calendar and suggested October Rose.— October Rose, on choosing a name
"What Happens in a Small Town" Cover
Shatterproof is a New York-based organization. We decided to partner with them. They’re not for profit and their objective is to bring a positive change by highlighting the opioid epidemic.— October Rose, about partnering with Shatterproof
SH: Please share more about Shatterproof.
LW: Shatterproof is a New York-based organization. We decided to partner with them. They’re not for profit and their objective is to bring a positive change by highlighting the opioid epidemic.
DA: They are able to push for action at higher levels. They’ve been in the battle for a while and seem like they are in a better position to do things like lobby in Washington or recruit people to write to Congress. We figured we’d start locally and then see if we can build up National awareness.
Everything happens in a cycle. We just happen to be on a downturn. It’s only a matter of time before things swing back up.— October Rose, regarding the COVID-19 crisis
SH: How are you able to use your music as a form of therapy for yourself and for others, especially now?
DA: Absolutely. We wrote “Different Kind of High” as a form of therapy. And people have told us about how they can relate to the song after losing someone close to them. The song really means a lot. I think that’s what music is there for - to say the words you can’t think of saying and to capture those emotions.
LW: There’s a song for every mood so right now, playing an uplifting song for people is an escape. To not think about all the sadness going on in the world.
SH: Do you have any message for the world right now as we wait for this COVID-19 nightmare to end?
LW: I would say just hang in there. This too shall pass. We’re all in some way or another affected by this. You’re not alone.
DA: Everything happens in a cycle. We just happen to be on a downturn. It’s only a matter of time before things swing back up.
Just for Fun:
SH: Name one thing friends would consider to be “so you.” Individually and as a collective duo.
LW: Friendliness, kindness.
DA: I would say that Leann is a weather aficionado. Whenever there is a hurricane or tornado, she’s tracking it down to the T and does full reporting on it.
LW: Well, Derek is like a closet 80s hair metal music fan and he’s good at finance.
DA: I’m actually out of the closet on that one. (laughs)
LW: I would say as a duo, we’re known for our harmonies. There’s a lot of people that come up to us after performances and say things like, “ your harmonies are just so beautiful.” And we have a good chemistry together up on stage.
SH: What stereotype do you live up to?
LW: I think it goes back to harmony. We strive for perfect harmonies every time we sing. We try to live up to that fan hype and compliment.
DA: Yeah, we’re really hard on ourselves. It can be difficult at times to find the right keys and the right songs so that it does sound good and we are putting our best foot forward.
SH: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
DA: Move to New Jersey.
LW: I left my full-time job to pursue music. I would say it turned out better than I expected.
To learn more about October Rose and Shatterproof follow the links below. If you would like to help raise awareness, you can donate to the cause.
October Rose Links
Story of October Rose
© 2020 Shannon Henry