Rose Hill Drive: A Better Way

Check out songs from Rose Hill Drive's new album on MySpace...

By: Dennis Cook

Rose Hill Drive by Danny Rothenberg
"We tried to do whatever we wanted to do," offers Rose Hill Drive's bassist-singer Jake Sproul on the loose philosophy behind their new self-produced second album, Moon Is The New Earth (released June 24 on Megaforce). "We're all very distinct personalities but we want to get together and make something that speaks for all three of us. This is the culmination of our frustrations turned into a positive progression in a direction that makes us feel comfortable and full."

Moon coalesces a lot of elements the trio – rounded out by Sproul's brother Daniel (guitar, vocals) and childhood friend Nathan Barnes (drums) - have been playing with for a while, tossing aside the vintage rock tag that's dogged them from day one. Opener "Sneak Out" is a punchy, fresh calling card that could easily compete with The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age or any other jaggedly catchy modern rock. Other spots hark back to the suede clad, big amp '70s but in a way that's an homage rather than a reproduction. Feel is impossible to define but there's a heavy soul inside Rose Hill Drive that infuses everything with a pleasant density, a trait that permeates the new album.

"It's hard to get things across, live or in the studio. We didn't exactly get our whole live show vibe across on the record. That's just a part of us, and maybe not creatively where we feel most comfortable. Getting to that core energy took everyone coming together, with friends helping us turn the knobs and place the mics," Sproul says. "We're really sensitive people. When we get put in a situation we don't try to push our way through or shove our ideas. Doing that is just the environment manipulating you. We finally just became comfortable when everything was out in the open and the air was clear. Nobody had any preexisting notions of how we should be. That it took a while to reach this place wound up being helpful. There was an intensity that we could suspend amongst the relaxed feeling that we tried to maintain – play and work, keeping a certain vibe, but also knowing how to egg each other on to really get the right take and just doing it until it's right."

Rose Hill Drive by Jake Krolick
Compared to their self-titled 2006 debut, Moon Is The New Earth is a quantum leap forward, an exciting mingling of acoustic and electric instruments, intuitive studio savvy, increasingly tasty chops and the feverish drive only young folks possess. The first words sung are "Honey, I got another side of me I don't show." Moon is a band looking in the mirror and seeing themselves instead of the traces of their ancestors.

"Listening to the first record, I knew we could do better but we frustratingly had to wait a couple years to show it," offers Sproul. "We started writing tunes for this album immediately after our first one. It just feels like we've been trying to catch up in the recording sense with where we are as band live. We tried to sign quickly to get our first record out, and then it took even longer! We pretty much got pushed out on the road five years ago, and our songs weren't necessarily resonating so we started covering songs and molding ourselves into something that could keep us surviving on the road. Playing those cover songs was something attractive that kept us playing. That was a fortunate thing for us to grow out there, and our live show was a creative thing unto itself but not necessarily what we set out to do when we started this band. I don't really know what the scope of this band is but the fun we were having in the studio, the high we were riding, was some of the best times that we've shared as friends and as a band."

The Song Does Not Remain The Same

Jake Sproul by Tobin Voggesser
"I think we've always just been trying to find out what we want to do, which I don't think is a bad thing," says Sproul. "I think that growing creatively is a major part of what keeps you feeling alive about what you're doing for art. It's important to not get stagnant because if the creative energy gets stale it ceases to exist."

Labeled a Zeppelin knockoff from the beginning, Rose Hill Drive may have the feel of a classic rock band but there are more than enough twists to squirm out of that pigeonhole. Cranking "Raise Your Hands" or "Cool Cody," it's easy to understand the retro comparisons. They just don't come off as something that grew up today, sharing far more in common with say Thin Lizzy than Maroon 5. But, the new album makes clear Rose Hill Drive is a contemporary group and not some nostalgia act. Despite many having written their soundbite a while ago, this trio is tougher to pin down than many think.

"The Thin Lizzy thing is so European! That's the response over there, where Thin Lizzy is considered the greatest band of all time. I had never heard Thin Lizzy until I went over there and our tour manager gave me Jailbreak. It was totally brand new to my ears," says Sproul, handily debunking preconceptions about their inspirations. "Everybody has a lot of information right now but the walls are closing in and the balls are bouncing faster. Things echo a bit more now and people hear what they wanna hear sometimes. When we listen to music we lump it all together. It's not a decade thing or that we're trying to sound like a particular style. In the beginning of the band, we were so young and listening to everything we loved, and I remember getting high and listening to Radiohead's The Bends. That was right before we developed into the three-piece, and at the time I thought it was the greatest music I'd heard to that point. It was the most emotional experience; every sound sounded brand new, every note that followed every note was the most beautiful, perfect step into the next. The Bends was just as important for us as Led Zeppelin II."

"Jazz is really, really above my head because I haven't focused on it. But, I definitely love listening to John Coltrane. It's just part of creativity, and if something is inspiring you then you'll want to go in that direction. You'll do it your own way, no matter what, if you're feeling that creative energy. You can try to imitate but if you imitate all the way you start to get that stagnant feeling," says Sproul. "It doesn't matter where the spark comes from. It can come from a movie. Like, I felt a lot of creative energy after I watched There Will Be Blood. And I think The Big Lebowski is the ultimate. It's got all the elements and it breathes so well. There's this super chilled out protagonist. He speaks without speaking, and they captured that. He goes through a range of human emotions but he's always still The Dude."

Continue reading for more on Rose Hill Drive...

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