Hey, Rosetta’s in town

Since forming in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2005, Hey Rosetta has risen through the ranks of the Canadian independent music scene to become a critically acclaimed band recognized for their intelligent songs and energetic live shows.

Mixing piano, violin and cello with traditional rock instrumentation has allowed the group to lay claim to a rather unique sound. In 2009 alone, the group won three East Coast Music Awards, the Canadian Music Week Award for Best Independent Album and saw its record Into Your Lungs… short-listed as a finalist for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Voila: a recipe for indie rock success.

Hey Rosetta will perform at the Manhattan Bar & Grill on Westmorland Street on Tuesday night as special guests to Vancouver’s Hot Hot Heat.

Along with his bandmates Tim Baker, Josh Ward, Phil Maloney and Romesh Thavanathan, Hey Rosetta guitarist Adam Hogan is happy and grateful to be back on Canadian soil after completing almost five weeks of touring with Hot Hot Heat through the United States.

“We had the opportunity to play somewhere in the vicinity of 20 shows with the Hot Hot Heat guys,” Adam says in a phone interview from Saskatoon. “We had never done such extensive touring through the U.S. and overall, it was just such a great opportunity.”

Upon returning to Canada, Hey Rosetta vocalist Tim Baker unfortunately came down with a bug, forcing the group to cancel their show in Calgary. Following the cancelled show, however, was a day off, giving Baker the opportunity to rest his voice for a couple of days and recuperate fully.

If you have kept close tabs on Hey Rosetta over the course of the past two years, you would know that they have seemingly spent as much time touring abroad as they have spent touring within Canada. It is a fact that Hogan doesn’t deny but clarifies that since they have done their fair share of touring throughout the Great White North, it was only logical that they start to look at branching out to other territories.

“We toured through Canada for approximately three years straight, bouncing around from coast to coast,” he says. “Over the past couple of years, we have had the opportunity to tour through Australia and have also spent time in the UK, France and the U.S., of course.

“We really wanted to focus on getting the band into new markets because in many of those places, it is just like we are starting at square one all over again, so there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done,” Adam says. “Playing tiny bars throughout the States for 20 to 30 people a night is tough but we recognize that we have to build our fan base the same way we have here at home.”

“Touring can be rather exhaustive at times but it is what we really want to do. We all love the creative side of writing songs and the process of recording too, though. All in all, it is a pretty great way to spend our time.”

Adam says that, as of this past May, Hey Rosetta has completed work on the follow-up effort to Into Your Lungs…, which was released in June 2008. He says that the 11-track, still untitled record will greet consumers in February 2011.

“All that is left to do at this point is to finalize the artwork, which is nice,” he says.

Produced by Tony Doogan, who was also at the helm of the last two records by Halifax band Wintersleep, in addition to records by indie favorites Belle and Sebastian and Mogwai, Adam says that the process for making their upcoming record was a stark contrast to the making of their debut.

“If you compare the making of each of our records, you would see two deliberately different approaches. When we recorded Into Your Lungs…, we had a grand total of two weeks to get everything done. We recorded the drums, bass and guitar live off the floor together and then added everything on top once those parts were captured.

“For this new record, we spent two weeks alone getting the bass and drums locked in together. We then took a week off and then added the rest of the instrumentation over the following week and a half.”

Adam says that while the group felt some pressure in having to have their record completed in that week and a half period, they enjoyed the fact that they could go home in the off hours and continue to work out the kinks in their new material.

Asked what Doogan brought to the making of their record, Adam quickly says that their producer was a “wizard” when it came to getting the right sound from their instruments committed to tape.

“Tony wasn’t so much influencing musical direction and picking our songs apart as he was in just helping us get incredible sounds from the instruments.”

The imminent lack of downtime between Hey Rosetta tours and the upcoming release of their new record suits Adam and his bandmates just fine. In fact, he is already looking forward to the release of their new record to have an excuse to stay on tour.

“Once the record is out, we will do a big Canadian tour and then focus on international territories after that. We really do love being on the road.”

Article published in October 8, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript