Rose Hill Drive :: 04.08.05 :: Fox Theatre :: Boulder, CO

Rose Hill Drive :: 04.08 :: Fox, CO
I have heard nothing but good things about Rose Hill Drive, but then again, nothing that I had heard about them heading into the Fox Theatre really did 'em justice either.

For those uninitiated to the sound of Rose Hill Drive, their introduction to the band was akin to the scene in Wayne's World where Wayne and Garth are laying on the hood of the parked car, staring into the clear night sky, having a nice conversation when outta nowhere, a jet thunders overhead at a low altitude with a deafening roar that's felt as well as heard. It's pretty intense, but in that case it only lasted about ten seconds.

The mayhem kicked off around 11:15 and didn't let up for a solid two hours. Any slow songs? Not a chance. Acoustic stuff? Naw, Son. Lighter songs with a poppy hook? Nope, there's already plenty of that crap in Boulder. This is relentless, raw, neo-classic rock that comes off remarkably fresh.

Now I was an avowed Zeppelin freak in junior high and high school and still love gettin' the Led out every now and then. Their chemistry was impeccable, and hearing that crystal-clear guitar rise above the fracas still sends chills down my spine. Rose Hill Drive comes out with the same sense of urgency that some of the best metal and classic rock bands have had, but with a certain authenticity that eluded many of the "hair bands" of the 80's. These kids are legit.

Jake Sproul (left) :: Daniel Sproul (right) :: Fox Theatre :: 04.08 :: Boulder
The power trio has already toured with Snoop Dogg, the Chili Peppers, Van Halen, and Gov't Mule, and they are about to head out with the Black Crowes. The really impressive thing though? Their entire career is ahead of them: not a single band member is even 23. Fiddling around with garage bands in Boulder for the past decade, the only goal the band had was to "someday" sell out the Fox Theatre in their hometown. Mission accomplished. Awhile back, actually. So now what? When in doubt, crank up the volume and let 'er rip.

Nate Barnes :: 04.08 :: Fox, CO
Fast, loud, and proud is the name of the game. Brothers Daniel and Jake Sproul have a chemistry that is immediately evident, with Jake laying out plenty of solid ground for Daniel to trudge around in and then rally through with an over-the-top guitar solo. Drummer Nate Barnes didn't indulge in any adventures around the beat and kept the group in lock-step formation the entire night. Even after he was introduced mid-set, he didn't take a solo - he simply kept his head down and kept plugging away.

Jake Sproul needs a boost in the sound mix. Nothing major - you can hear him fine now, but cranking him up a notch would make the band's sound more dynamic. He handles the lead vocals with ease - a buddy likened his sound to that of Mother Lovebone, but he clearly has enough talent on bass to take the band's sound in new directions over the next few years, should they choose to evolve in that area.

Daniel Sproul :: 04.08 :: Fox, CO
Daniel Sproul is definitely the ringleader of the band. No loops, no frills, and only one wah pedal that separates his sound from that pure Les Paul tone. He demonstrated proficiency and familiarity with a number of genres, from blues to ferocious thrash metal to straight-up rock & roll. On a couple occasions, he came through with some great tension-and-release work where he built a song up to a near-repetitive climax before exploding ahead to new territory.

On a side note, the show was the absolute loudest I've heard in ages. A hundred feet away, separated by a thick set of doors, the bathroom stalls rattled.

None of RHD's songs stretched too far beyond the five minute mark, and aside from a couple brief "How's it goin'?" remarks to the crowd, the band's throwdown in the packed halls of the Fox was essentially a continuous two-hour rock medley. The opinion of the crowd after the show matched the popular consensus going into it: Rose Hill Drive can flat-out play.

An uncle of mine actually had his own band that did some light touring on the West Coast when I was growing up. I remember asking him at a young age "Why are all your concerts so loud?" He laughed, thought for a minute, and responded with "Because if you hear something that sounds good and you like it, you usually want more of it, so you turn up the volume."

Twenty years later, I've found that it really is that simple.

Rock doesn't need a guitarist hiding behind a wall of pedals and dials, nor does it need its sound shrouded in dark, melancholy wailings from a tormented soul. Rose Hill Drive is a group destined to evolve, but their current unspoken goal is a noble one: to liberate rock from the shackles of technological "progress" and get back to the basics. They are three local kids with mad chops, no fluff, and never a dull moment. The recipe for enjoying RHD is simple but effective - just pump up the volume.

Words by: Nathan Rodriguez
Images by: Tobin Voggesser
JamBase | Colorado
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[Published on: 4/26/05]

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snappy starstarstarstar Fri 5/6/2005 08:02PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I've been hearing the same good things about RHD and your words only make me want to hear them more. Nice mix of images and insights. Your uncle is a wise man, too.

David Bennett starstarstarstar Wed 9/21/2005 12:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

David Bennett

Rodriguez represents Rose Hill Drive well. Just listen and you'll see that his article provides the right image. Just reading the article I realized that RHD would provide the guitar work I sought after in a new band. It was an unhappy ending though as the author concludes by touting a kind of rock-purism. Clearly assuming the role of mouthpiece, Rodriguez writes:

"Rock doesn't need a guitarist hiding behind a wall of pedals and dials", he says, "nor does it need its sound shrouded in dark, melancholy wailings from a tormented soul. Rose Hill Drive is a group destined to evolve, but their current unspoken goal is a noble one: to liberate rock from the shackles of technological 'progress' and get back to the basics."

One should always begin squirming in their seat when a critic appeals to an RHD-style primitivism as a sound ingredient that is preferred over others. This purist notion creeps in subtly only toward the conclusion but plainly smacks of a rock purism. It's as if he's imagining the existence of some true blue rock-n-roll: some will find it and others will fall short.

Rodriguez, why go there? We know what rough and tough, balls-out rock-n-roll is and we know what we like about it; but we don't burden ourselves with suggestion that it's better than another more progressive form--buried in effects or no.

Is there bad music? Of course. But why should a guitarist with only one wah-wah peddle be thought of as winning out over another guitarist with six? That's not where we start is it? Naw, our community learned better than that long ago.

David Bennett