from l to r: Daniel Sproul‚ Jake Sproul‚ Nathan Barnes
Rose Hill Drive are redefining rock 'n' roll for the new millennium‚ and not just for the unbridled visceral impact of their music‚ but for the nonconformist way this Colorado trio manage their career.
In this interview‚ bassist/vocalist Jake Sproul more than once mentioned (and just as often alluded to) his kinship with bandmates drummer Nathan Barnes and his brother‚ guitarist Daniel. And the group's grassroots approach to developing their fanbase derives directly from that intimate connection.
Which isn't to say RHD are opposed to elevating their profile. The Who's Pete Townshend was one of their earliest advocates‚ and he backed up his support of the band by arranging for the threesome to join the legendary Brit rockers' tours in 2006 and 2007. (Pete's also jammed informally with them onstage.) The summer of 2008 found Jake‚ Daniel and Nathan sharing the road and stage with Gov't Mule: it's a hard rock meeting of minds that will surely be mutually satisfying for the artists and the audiences.
Discussing at some length the process which begat the new Rose Hill Drive album‚ Moon Is The New Earth‚ the conversation took a number of twists and turns that touched upon topics ranging from insertion of acoustic sets within shows to The Beatles to the mystical aspect of music and the creative method behind it. In a direct reflection of how this band plays‚ this was less an interview than a dialogue between music lovers fascinated by each other's insights and the diversity of possibility in the subject matter at hand.
I was very excited when I saw the announcement of the new album‚ and I have to tell you‚ upon hearing Moon Is The New Earth‚ it exceeded my expectations. Can you give me some insight into the sequence of events by which the album was written and recorded?
After having a producer on the first album‚ we all felt this album was a project we should do ourselves. We talked about it and we were all confident‚ so we all agreed about the decision of producing on our own and thought‚ Let's go for it. Song-wise as well‚ we did it ourselves without any producer or outside studio.
I noticed that. I thought that was pretty impressive. That's pretty brave to trust your instincts and trust your judgment all the way through a project like a new album.
Yeah‚ it definitely was a leap of faith. But‚ you know‚ it was felt among everyone. If everyone's feeling that way‚ let's try it out.
Did you have all the material written when you went into the studio? I'm interested to know how much prep time you took before you actually started recording.
Oh‚ we had a bunch of time. We prepped a lot of the songs in the same studio in which we recorded the final versions. And we didn't use many demo takes. I think we cut all final takes‚ but we definitely had time to demo all of the songs before we went in and recorded.
And that helps us‚ you know‚ kind of last-minute figure out what would be the best call for the songs and what they needed.
When you've got a new tune for the band to play‚ whether it's you or Daniel or Nathan‚ do you have an arrangement all set or do you just bring the chords‚ the melody and the words and run through it and collectively come up with an arrangement for it?
That's usually how it works with the band. The latter. Just because everybody gets a say and everybody gets to push their elbows out and make room for themselves. And that usually helps because then nobody feels snuffed out or everybody gets a fair shot‚ and that's just the best way to operate I think. The democratic style.
Well‚ that does maintain the democracy if it never relegates anybody to feeling like they're a sideman to the guy who came in with the original idea or anything like that.
Yeah‚ that's not what our group's about. We definitely‚ definitely try to make it equal.
That's the impression I've gotten in the couple of times I've seen you. I went on the recommendation of a friend‚ and then almost to the day a year later you came back‚ which I thought was interesting because I was able to see a real distinct progression in the way you guys were playing live. Are you sensing that kind of development the longer you play together and the more shows you do?