Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Hey Rosetta!

While Canadian rock seems to be all the rage these days (here’s looking at you, Arcade Fire), those artists who make if out of Newfoundland are still few and far between to say the least. Hey Rosetta! ranks among that small number and may soon be following in the Fire’s footsteps as a band about to break out big time. In the wake of their show at DC9, we caught up with songwriter and founder Tim Baker about the bands classical strings-infused sound, the evolution of their music and the huge difference a couple hundred miles and a border can have on their audiences.

While Canadian rock seems to be all the rage these days (here’s looking at you, Arcade Fire), those artists who make if out of Newfoundland are still few and far between to say the least. Hey Rosetta! ranks among that small number and may soon be following in the Fire’s footsteps as a band about to break out big time. In the wake of their show at DC9, we caught up with songwriter and founder Tim Baker about the bands classical strings-infused sound, the evolution of their music and the huge difference a couple hundred miles and a border can have on their audiences.

Mike Hume: A lot of your clippings note your unique sound. How did you arrive at your particular blend?

Tim Baker: It wasn’t premeditated at all. I realize now that might be a little unusual. When I started the band I had a pile of songs that I thought were pretty good and deserved more instruments. So we took the songs and I wanted the sound to be dynamic and really pull out what the lyrics were doing. Now I realize that we’re playing with all these bands at festivals and bigger shows and I’m noticing that they all work really hard to differentiate their sound and put a lot of work into that. But we never did.

MH: How do you know when to pull back and you don’t need to add anything else?

TB: When you’re in a big studio that you’re paying for, there’s a lot of pressure and you’re always conscious of the money dripping away. So before we go in, we all know more or less what we’re going to do before we go in there. But generally I have in my head what it’s going to sound like.

MH: When you finish a show, what do you want your audiences to take away?

TB: I just want to put on a show and give them a feeling that I would love. I’d like to call to mind images or even arguments that affect you. You want to bring people out of their day-to-day. And that’s what I want to have happen to me too. You want your hair to stand up or get goose bumps. We want to promote a connection, a kind of weird ethereal brotherhood.

MH: When I spoke with another Newfoundland band, Great Big Sea, they were talking about the tradition of music on the island. How much of a role did that play with you and your band?

TB: There aren’t too many bands that make it off the island and tour and make headlines. They [Great Big Sea] are one of the few that have and they’re probably the model for success, even though we don’t play the same music at all. On the island, there’s a love of music, but not really the same type of music we write. With us I’d say the biggest thing is that it’s provided us a deep appreciation for music. It’s very central to the culture and a big part of your life when you go to school.

MH: You’ve received some great press in the past. Do you ever worry that the legend will be built up too big before people even get the chance to see you?

TB: Well, I hadn’t until now … No, I’ve thought about that, and it is scary. It’s very different playing in the U.S. and Canada. In Canada we’ll go from one sold out show to another and then we’ll play Portland [Maine] and we’re playing to six people. So it is disappointing in some ways, but I do like it because a lack of expectation is very freeing. All the sudden it’s a pleasant surprise instead of playing to an expectation. But we can’t really do much about it. There’s stress when things work out. And my mother always told me, “don’t be afraid if it all goes right.” I think that’s pretty good advice.

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