Tim Baker is ready to embrace the summer heat. On this beautiful, yet awfully chilly afternoon in Newfoundland, Canada, the frontman of Hey Rosetta! is perched on a couch inside his makeshift living-room studio.
While the cold has kept the six-piece indie-rock group indoors, they are using their time wisely, polishing up three new songs and running through a set list that they designed specifically for the slew of American festivals (Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, River's Edge) that they're slated to perform at. Festival season is Baker's favorite time of year.
“Everybody is there to have a good time,” he says. “Everybody is generally in some huge outdoor area that is miles away from their responsibilities, their worries, their work and everything else. It's a celebration, and it's a great way to see music and play music, among other things.”
For a band that's constantly on the run, the festival dynamic is a welcome departure from the usual rigors of touring. “You're only one of many hundreds of bands playing at the festival,” says Baker. “You’re not in the van, you’re not back at the hotel, you’re not onto the next gig ... you can hang around and watch. You can just be a part of a big party. It's very different [than] going from bar to bar across the country. It's the summer.”
In May, Hey Rosetta! issued a deluxe edition of its third full-length “Seeds,” which was originally released outside of the United States last year. The deluxe edition packages the original stand-alone title with four acoustic songs recorded in Australia, called “Sing Sing Sessions.”
At the core, “Seeds” is a beautiful symphonic indie-rock masterpiece with folksy influences, spirit-evoking melodicism and a piercing string section that gives each composition a layer of prestige. Baker's smooth vocals and deep observations about the world around him perfectly complement the music, and as such allows him to passionately sing freely in live settings.
“The thing about lyrics is you gotta live with them for a longtime,” he explains. “Not only that, but the reality of singing lyrics in a rock band is you're kinda standing on stage and shouting at people, so I've always wanted to make the words worth shouting at people instead of just settling.”
Formed in 2005, Baker planted the seeds of Hey Rosetta! with guitarist Adam Hogan and bassist Josh Ward. Looking to add more color and energy to the compositions the singer-songwriter had previously written, he sought out a string section.
“I thought the cello really worked with the sound and exposed the emotionality of a lot of the writing,” Baker explains. “It seemed real powerful and seems like the right match, and eventually, I realized we needed the bass.
"We needed the low end, and it kept getting a little louder and cello doesn't really stick out of the mix. It's mid-rangey and we needed that violin to poke out –- to make it even more powerful, soaring and beautiful. That just seemed to work with the nature of the lyrics and the nature of the sounds.”
Despite many personnel changes over the years, Baker solidified the lineup with cellist Romesh Thavanathan, violinist Kinley Dowling and drummer Phil Maloney.
The reality of singing lyrics in a rock band is you're kinda standing on stage and shouting at people, so I've always wanted to make the words worth shouting at people...
Hey Rosetta! have since signed multiple indie label deals, released two full-length albums -- 2006's “Plan Your Escape” and 2009's “Into Your Lungs (And Around In Your Heart And On Through Your Blood)" -- and continue expanding into different territories.
Their eyes are now set to the U.S.
“It seems to really [have] picked up steam in the past year or so, which is fucking amazing. I love it there. It's really great to grow there,” Baker admits.
“[We] always experience America through television and films and think, ‘It’s totally crazy,’ and then to go and find out it's just really friendly and really calm. It's real -- like real people living their lives and being friendly. I must say, it's growing on all of us a lot and it's nice to kinda dismantle that false image of the place.”
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