JamBase Questionnaire: Rose Hill Drive

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Rose Hill Drive make rock exciting. The music and classically tuned live presence of this young Boulder, Colorado band has seemed more mature than their years since they first emerged in the mid-2000s, but not so much a throwback to another time just far more substantive than their peers in most cases. The benchmarks in Rose Hill have always been bigger and grander than whoever is currently on the charts, the guys drawing strength and inspiration from foundational figures like Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and The Yardbirds and transmuting it into their own thing. However, they’ve transcended their influences and firmly carved out their own identity on their third long-player, Americana (released July 12 on the band’s own Slow and Shirley label), which gives Them Crooked Vultures a run for title of Most Ambitious Gutbucket Rockers going today.

Now a healthy quartet, Rose Hill Drive overflows with creative juice on Americana, where each tune leaps out with purpose and walloping force, a whirlwind of hormones, rhythm and swerving, charismatic confidence. Face it, hard rock without balls and convincing strut is a waste, and Rose Hill’s clangers appeared to have dropped in a big way during their three-year studio hiatus. All the root stuff in their earlier work still floats in their sound but the urgency and bold character of Americana mark this as modern music with songs, production and underlying character to properly wrestle with today’s hard-minded world. Added bonus: – A growing facility with Beatles-esque little touches, particularly the album’s untitled Abbey Road ready denouement.

Desire is the strong undertow of every cut, expressed in multiple ways but always totally convincing, rushing at you in a stream of sharply barked syllables or hovering in a series of lascivious guitar notes, an omnipresent ache we all know and maybe never totally satisfy, except temporarily. One can feel the band’s breath on their neck as vaguely possessed monsters like “Telepathic” and “Your Mother’s Jam” grope in a most welcome way. Polite won’t do it with rock of this nature, and Rose Hill Drive manhandles things beautifully throughout Americana, whose title neatly snatches back the expression from the alt-country folks and drags it in Ray-Bans into a world of “coke-smoking parrots” and “fat piranha,” a place of fractured dreams and abandoned hippie aspirations where whatever connections that can be managed are clutched with fevered intensity. In more prurient terms, Americana will make you hump somebody’s leg while shaking your head wildly and wishing you had more of a mane to whip around. And if the humpee is at all red blooded and open to suggestion, well, just remember to stop for wine and lube on your way to horizontal. (Dennis Cook)

Here's what Rose Hill Drive had to say to our inquiries.

Rose Hill Drive
Name: Daniel Sproul
Instrument(s) of choice: Guitar

Name: Nate Barnes
Instrument(s) of choice: Drums, hammer dulcimer
Nickname: Nasty Nate

Name: Jimmy Stofer
Instrument(s) of choice: bass
Nickname: Jimmy "The Gopher" Stofer

Name: Jake Sproul
Instrument(s) of choice: guitar and bass and keys and fleas

1. Great music rarely happens without…
Daniel: A huge amount of mind altering drugs.
Nate: Sound.
Jimmy: A unique vision and the sounds to pull it off.
Jake: Feeling

2. The first album I bought was…
Daniel: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. So what?
Nate: Soundgarden’s Superunknown
Jimmy: Bon Iver’s Bon Iver
Jake: Aerosmith’s Nine Lives

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Daniel: Spoon’s Transference
Nate: My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless
Jimmy: James Blake’s self-titled LP
Jake: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Trick Pony”

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
Daniel: A child trapped in a man’s body. Success.
Nate: A pirate
Jimmy: A professional wrestler
Jake: A pro baseball player

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
Daniel: The shows where everybody shares the magic in the room.

Nate: One with people there.
Jimmy: Packed theaters (500-1000 capacity). Something about a room like that with a full house is the my favorite.
Jake: Festivals

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
Daniel: I lead a triple life, including that of a woman. It’s exhausting.
Nate: Under that hard crunchy exterior is a delicious creamy center.
Jimmy: How hard I can crush Sudoku.
Jake: I pray for world peace.

7. I love the sound of…
Daniel: Animal orgasms
Nate: Music. The movie.
Jimmy: The new album
Jake: Sizzling bacon

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Daniel: The one we just made.
Nate: Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf
Jimmy: anything The Replacements did. Something that just puts feeling in a mood everytime they hear it.
Jake: The music in my head.

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Daniel: A rest stop next to a cow pasture. We cooked beef.
Nate: Every show of Van Halen tour.
Jimmy: Seattle Fish Market. They have a little sandwich shop that makes the best fish sandwiches I've ever had.
Jake: Any Indian food in England.

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Daniel: Spain. They love rock music.
Nate: Bed
Jimmy: Boulder
Jake: Festivals

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Daniel: Tobacco. It's amazing and horrible...terrible....but so good.
Nate: Substituting exercise for whiskey.
Jimmy: Gaining weight
Jake: Nicotine

12. Led Zeppelin or Radiohead, which flips your switch the most and why?
Daniel: Why not Neil Diamond?
Nate: Being a drummer, I gotta go with Zeppelin.
Jimmy: Tough question. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin a lot, so they’ll always have a special place in my heart. But in the past 10 years Radiohead has really been an important band for me.
Jake: That's like asking, "Who do you love the most, mom or dad?"

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Daniel: A mountain lion while on mushrooms. Seriously, I thought that was the end.
Nate: A naked tripping hippie at a festival running into a barbed wire fence and splitting his sack open.
Jimmy: Bush getting elected to his second term.
Jake: A UFO fly across the sea in Brighton.

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[Published on: 7/27/11]

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