Hey Rosetta!

Justin Brake
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Ready to heat things up

In the first of a two-part series, The Telegram sits down with Tim Baker to discuss the new album from Hey Rosetta!, the music biz and the band's future, including whether or not they're headed for the mainland.

"Their passion and excitement is contained in a package that doesn't need to appear cool," award-winning Canadian musician Hawksley Workman told the nation in a February episode of CBC's "The Hour" with George Stromboulopoulos. "They're definitely the next big thing."

Hey Rosetta!

In the first of a two-part series, The Telegram sits down with Tim Baker to discuss the new album from Hey Rosetta!, the music biz and the band's future, including whether or not they're headed for the mainland.

"Their passion and excitement is contained in a package that doesn't need to appear cool," award-winning Canadian musician Hawksley Workman told the nation in a February episode of CBC's "The Hour" with George Stromboulopoulos. "They're definitely the next big thing."

The band Workman was endorsing was Hey Rosetta!, a product of the St. John's indie rock scene whose upcoming album he produced earlier this year.

"He said it would be a dream project for him," explains the band's lead singer Tim Baker, sipping a tea in the living room/jam space of the house he and his roommates rent in St. John's.

"He was really into it, and that was the beginning of this head expansion," he laughs, "'cause I was like 'What the hell, really?' I couldn't believe it for a while. I talked to him on the phone and e-mailed him a bunch and he was into it that much and he really respected us."

Baker formed Hey Rosetta! in 2005 after returning to St. John's from Montreal, where he earned a university degree in sociology. Since then, the band's three-year tenure has taken them from George Street to Newfoundland summer festivals to Eastern Canadian road trips and on a cross-country tour.

"When we were out (on tour) the first time, we were extremely surprised at the support and the amount of people who knew the tunes," explains Baker. "Mostly people from Newfoundland living out West, but it was pretty phenomenal."

With a dedicated following, mainland exposure and XM Satellite Radio play in the U.S., the band is well-equipped to infiltrate the Canadian mainstream with its second album, "Into Your Lungs (And Around In Your Heart And On Through Your Blood)," which is slated to hit record store shelves nationwide June 3.

The fruit of Baker and bandmates Adam Hogan, Josh Ward, Phil Maloney, Kinley Dowling and Jessie Tesolin's work are 12 tracks that foster the band's multi-layered and infectious sound.

And Baker's poetic subterranean lyrics, which distinguished the band's first record "Plan Your Escape" from most independent records, are consistent and prevalent on the new album.

"A lot of the songs are coming from a similar sort of place," he says, explaining many of them were inspired by the band's experience touring for the first time.

"(They're) about going on tour and being in a touring band, and getting the ferry over (to Nova Scotia) from Port Aux Basques," he says. "And meeting people on the road and people taking you into their house, helping you, feeding you and putting you up. You meet so many strangers and they end up being really awesome people. It's a pretty enriching experience despite how exhausting it is."

The production, he points out, is where the band focused much of its attention for the new record.

"Production-wise, it's of a higher production value," he explains. "We got a producer and we spent a lot of money and we had a nicer studio and all that. The production philosophy was pretty much the same, all these arrangements we had we just put together and recorded all the sounds as honestly as we could. There's no tricks or effects or anything. It's pretty much just the instruments playing into the nicest mikes we could afford."

Baker adds Workman's experience was a big factor in the band getting through the process with a sense of accomplishment.

"I think more than anything he brought a sort of confidence to the whole session. He really instilled in us the idea that it was going to be a great record and that we were great players. He kept the atmosphere amazingly positive with jokes and we were laughing almost all the time," he explains.

"He really struck a great balance between the freedom to let us do our own thing and any changes he wanted to make, which were pretty minimal. More than anything, it was this efficient way to work and this really confident, fun atmosphere. We flew through it. We did all the band tracks in just over a week."

Originally, says Baker, the album was to be named after the opening track, "Waving a New Goodbye," but the band changed the title to avoid speculation it was a reference to them leaving Newfoundland.

"The album's cover image is this boat sailing away from an island on fire," he explains.

"I kind of realized that it is likely people might think that and it's likely it will come up in interviews, so at the last minute we went with ("Into Your Lungs"), which is a lyric from 'Psalm', the last song on the album."

Baker says he's happy with the title because of its ability to invoke different interpretations.

"It has to do with music, somehow, for me," he says. "When you sing, the air and the music go into your lungs and around in your heart and on through your blood. It's kind of an intimate musician thing."

At first he's a little uncomfortable discussing the idea that the band might have to relocate to further their career, but at the same time is eager to dispel speculation which began circulating when the band started touring the mainland.

"If we were going to leave I think we would have done it a year ago because as the shows get bigger and we're on the road more and more, it matters less and less where we live," he explains. "If you're on the road for two months, you're on the road for two months, even if it takes you an extra two days to get home at the end of it."

If that's not enough, Baker says he's trying to convince Dowling, the band's violinist, and Tesolin, their cellist, to relocate to St. John's from Halifax.

"Into Your Lungs" was recorded at the Sonic Temple in Halifax over a two-week period last winter, explains Baker, who whittled his material down to 16 songs which had album potential.

"I think it was really obvious to everybody what ones we were going to focus on first," he says.

Of the 12 that made the cut, Baker says picking the album's first single was a challenge.

"I never write singles so it's always a matter of taking a song that isn't a single and trying to make it one," he explains. "In some cases it works rather well. I thought 'Yes, Yes, Yes!' worked pretty well," he says, adding the "Plan Your Escape" song wasn't originally intended be a single.

"I find it very difficult to choose the one song that people are going to judge us on."

The band and Sonic chose "There's An Arc," which is available to stream on the band's website (www.heyrosetta.com), as the first single. They also plan to shoot a video for the song in early summer, says Baker.

Hey Rosetta! will embark on a national tour that kicks off at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto June 3, to coincide with the album's release.

They return to Newfoundland for a pair of shows at The Rock House on George Street July 12, including an all-ages gig, and will perform at Gander's Festival of Flight Aug. 2.

Pick up Friday's Telegram for Part 2, an analysis of "Into Your Lungs (And Around In Your Heart And On Through Your Blood)" including the stories behind the songs, as told by Tim Baker (shown below, third from right).

WWW Weblinks

Click on www.thetelegram.com for a preview of the new Hey Rosetta! single, "There's an Arc."

Organizations: CBC, XM Satellite Radio, Baker's The Rock House Telegram for Part 2

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, George Street Montreal U.S. Nova Scotia Port Aux Basques Halifax Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Ann
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Can't wait to get the new CD. I love this band.

  • Ann
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Can't wait to get the new CD. I love this band.