MEREWETHER BEACH IS A WONDERFUL PLACE! A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN GRAB A RASPBERRY CALIPPO, A TAN AND A SURFER’S ASS ALL AT THE SAME TIME. BUT IT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE PERFECT PLACE TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I SAT DOWN IN THE SUN WITH THE BLOODY BRILLIANT CRAIG ‘ROSIE’ AND BELINDA ROSEVEAR. THIS CLEVER COUPLE ARE RIDING SHOTGUN IN THE VAN OF MUSIC EDUCATION, WITH THEIR SCHOOL OF ROCK ENCOURAGING NEWY’S KIDS TO BE CHARISMATIC, CONFIDENT AND ABSOLUTELY KILLA MUSOS.
Music runs deep for this delightful duo, with Rosie in particular breaking into the industry very early.
‘Classic rock bands, that’s what I grew up on. Listening to KISS, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones… I started at Broadmeadow High School, which is now called the Hunter School of Performing Arts, so I had a formal start, and I went from there into rock bands,’ he said. ‘Then while I was still at school I started teaching drums, just to my friends and stuff in the lunch break.’
Growing up on the Central Coast, Belinda on the other hand joined the industry a little later in life, when she finally chose to get some music lessons as an adult.
‘I actually used to play drums before I met Craig… I can remember being in preschool, and someone came in with a drumkit. I would’ve been about four, and I was too shy to get up and have a go,’ she reminisced. ‘So it was just something that was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to try, and I would’ve been in my mid-twenties when I finally thought, OK, I’m going to have some lessons. I played for a few years, then I met Craig and thought, wow, I’ve got a fair way to go!’ she laughed.
Rosie continued to drum his way through post-school life, playing in a stack of different bands up and down the coast.
‘I’ve been a professional musician for about 30 years. My first time band was a band called BB-Steel, signed to Polygram. We toured with Def Leppard – that was a really good experience,’ he mentioned. ‘Then not long after that I got the call from the Screaming Jets to join them, and I was with that band for eight years.’
During his time in the Screaming Jets, Rosie played alongside some equally excellent bands including Grinspoon, Silverchair and Ugly Kid Joe. He also gained a whole lot of grouse music knowledge from working with some high-end industry professionals, something he ended up applying to his later music ventures.
‘We averaged about 300 gigs a year... So we pretty much played Tuesday to Saturday. Australia was our main market. We went to Europe, through the States, but Australia was definitely the bread and butter for the band,’ he said. ‘We did a lot of tours with The Angels. Silverchair, they used to play with us when they were called Innocent Criminals, so that was early in their piece.
‘We learnt a lot from working with really good managers and good producers… You get to understand how the other people got successful in the industry and you try to emulate that.’
Although Rosie’s time in the Screaming Jets eventually came to a close, his drumming career definitely did not, with he and his family choosing to pack up their gear bags and head to the USA.
‘I left the band in 2001, then I moved overseas to LA,’ he told me. ‘I worked in a recording studio there for a while… A lot of bands actually go to LA from all around the world, so it’s very competitive.’
‘Craig was in lots of bands; I was working in the fashion industry during our time over there,’ Belinda went on to say. ‘But when you’re going anywhere and setting up from nothing, it gets hard. You have your challenges; renting and getting your furniture, getting a car even. But yeah we loved it.’
And of course, living in such close proximity to a whole lot of celebs provided the Rosevears with a fair number of opportunities to meet some very famous faces (or in some cases, ALMOST).
‘We went back a year ago; we’ve still got friends over there, so we went over and caught up with them. One of our friends works with the Osbournes and has for a long time… So we met a few people through them,’ Belinda mentioned.
‘Serj Tankian from System of a Down – yeah, we had lunch with him… The Red Hot Chili Peppers used to rehearse at the studio where I worked. Whenever they were there, I wasn’t. It was just a joke!’ Rosie laughed. ‘I was a big Chad Smith fan… And then one day the studio owner said, “Look, man, I feel sorry for you, I’m going to do something nice for you.” So I went in, and I got to play Chad’s drums.’
But despite the totally LAvely time they had in the US, Rosie finally made the decision to hang up his tour boots and they all made their way back to Australia after two glorious years. His bootless feet didn’t stay still for long, however, with the couple getting stuck into establishing what is now one of the most impressive education facilities in Newy.
‘I didn’t want to tour anymore and just stay put. Obviously we had to make the choice of whether to stay there or come back, and we wanted to come back for our families here,’ Rosie explained. ‘I teach the kids, putting bands together. That was the fun part about it for me, and no one was doing it Newcastle. So that’s what we still do now: we focus on educating musicians to have bands.’
‘Craig was always teaching drums, so I think it was just a natural occurrence. People need somewhere where they can have it all under one roof,’ Belinda added. ‘We looked at some stuff in LA, got some really good concepts from over there; we came home and did some more research, and then put it all together.’
Rosie’s School of Rock isn’t just a physical reference to the classic 2003 Jack Black comedy. It’s actually a place that teaches people how to play and perform music, using cool and quirky concepts to shape them into assertive, well-educated rockstars. Now almost 11 years old, Rosie and Belinda’s school provides singing and instrumental lessons, as well as the chance for like-minded kidlets to mingle and create their very own tunes.
‘We’ll teach you the techniques and how to play, but rather than just doing it in isolation, and making you learn a scale and a riff from “Smoke on The Water” or something, We’ve actually got a jam room so it’s like a real gig,’ Rosie told me. ‘Our Future Rockstar program is in in conjunction with the music industry, like the Big Apachee guys – they’re great. They support us with our gigs at the Wickham Park Hotel or the other venues around town… We also play at McDonalds and let the kids go out and perform in front of people on a regular basis.’
And they seem to be doing a bloody good job so far. Their clever combination of basic techniques and interactive learning has made for some dang good music, with a couple of students going on to perform in a bunch of local bands.
‘It’s a great town for music, it always has been. We’ve had a band called Throw Me To The Wall – they’ve been getting played on Triple J. There’s another band called Arcades and Lions, and they were a couple of students from the School of Rock,’ Rosie said. ‘There’s another band that’s going to be really big called Patina Fender – they’ve just recorded some cool originals. We helped the kids write their original songs and record them, and they’re going to be the next hot act coming up!
‘I think to be successful you’ve just got to be adaptive. You’ve got to get proactive and work out ways that you can get your music out in front of people,’ he added.
Needless to say, the Rosevears are rad, with their School of Rock single-handedly grooming a whole new generation of musos for Newy (and maybe even the world) to feast their ears on. And for that, they deserve a big hearty thanks.
‘If you want to find out more about School of Rock you can go to the website, and you can also organise yourself a free trial lesson, which is the best way to figure out what we do. So yeah, please check it out. We play around town quite a bit so we’ll see you out there!’ Rosie asserted.
Well, what are you doing still sitting here, mate?! Hurry up and grab yourself a free lesson already – gosh.