Since their first show on Aug. 26 at the Georgetown Crew Team’s house, Rosewater has seized the reins of Georgetown’s live music scene and established a visible presence across campus. Like any band, they comprise of a vocalist, guitarists, and a drummer; unlike any normal band, however, Rosewater has a Will for everything. Band members include Sofi Schlesinger (lead vocals) and James Dolan (guitar), and then the Wills: Will Lefever (drums), Will Staniar (guitar and backing vocals), and Will Atkinson (bass).
I had the chance to interview Rosewater on Oct. 28, the morning of their Halloween show, their second performance at the Crew Team house. Spirits were high—no pun intended—and the band was ready to get playing. When I asked how Rosewater came to be, Dolan said, “It’s a very fun story to tell because there are so many insane moving parts that happened so randomly.” He and Staniar had played in a band during the 2022-23 school year and discussed starting their own group in the proceeding Fall. James knew Lefever from high school—admitting Lefever was a celebrity crush of his—and the pair decided to play together one night after talking about Dolan’s guitar pedals and Lefever’s music minor. Lefever and Atkinson had also previously played in a band together, thus James and the three Wills joined forces. Dolan and Schlesinger connected through a mutual friend and one of Schlesinger’s acapella-mates. Once all the chaotic, moving parts fell into place, Rosewater came together as a true band.
After hearing their origin story, I asked how they came up with the name ‘Rosewater.’ Dolan and Staniar responded simultaneously: “Kurt.” Staniar continued: “We were trying to come up with stuff, and James and I were texting—this is so embarrassing—about Kurt Vonnegut books.” The duo’s favorite Vonnegut books feature a character named Eliot Rosewater, and they agreed it had a nice ring to it. “It means something extra special to the two of us. The rest of the band hates it, but that’s okay,” Staniar deadpanned.
Regardless of any creative differences over its name, the band works and plays seamlessly well together. Before, during, and after my interview with Rosewater, I witnessed the shared stream of consciousness between all the members. During WGTB’s “Battle of the Bands” on Oct. 19, technical difficulties temporarily left Schlesinger without a working
microphone and her bandmates with disconnected instruments.
Photo Credit: Rosewater
Without hesitation, the band got the crowd to join in and continued playing acoustically until the problems were fixed. This effortless cohesion within the band comes from behind the scenes.
“We’ve been able to find a group where we always wanna go hang out with each other…with a lot of student music, you’re just kinda paired with people, and it’s ‘How long do I have to be in this room to get what I want musically and then bounce?’” Staniar said.
Following up on that comment, Schlesinger added, “It’s very much not that. We practiced until 2 a.m. the other day.”
Schlesinger said they constantly bounce song ideas around, and it shows in the way they interact with one another off-stage. The flow of conversation during our interview never lulled, even when no question needed to be answered. The band’s dynamic behind the scenes is as radiant as their energy on stage.
With this connection, Rosewater has successfully written and performed two original songs. The group originally wrote the tracks for their performance at Washington D.C.'s Songbyrd Music House on Oct. 7. Schlesinger mentioned, “They’re really, really fun to play because it’s something we created together.” In addition to the two original songs in the band’s catalog, Rosewater has a few fan favorites—Declan McKenna’s “Brazil,” Tears for Fears’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” to name a few.
It’s the live shows that make Rosewater the band they are. “There’s something different about playing with other people. When there are people there, their energy feeds into yours,” Staniar added. Rosewater connects effortlessly and effectively with each new audience, and the group is looking forward to further increasing that engagement off stage as well. In a shameless plug, Staniar stated, “Go follow the Instagram,” @rosewater_band. They encourage their listeners to share song requests, diversifying their setlist and hopefully attracting new fans.
Photo Credit: Rosewater
“It’s about the space, and the space is at its best when we’re playing stuff you guys want to hear,” Dolan added.
Rosewater has already expanded beyond campus gates and has no plans on slowing down anytime soon, with the hope to book gigs at other schools or bars in the near future. When I asked about the band’s dream venue, they collectively agreed on the 9:30 Club, one of the most iconic indie rock venues in the United States. With the trajectory the band is on right now, we shouldn’t be too surprised if that dream soon becomes a reality. Schlesinger, Dolan, and the three Wills (a band name in it of itself) are excited and ready to take on everything coming their way—late practice sessions, dysfunctional microphones, and all.
Lucy is one of the INDY’s Executive Editors. She is a junior in the College studying English and Journalism.