Rose Hill Drive

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Rose Hill Drive comes out of hibernation with a new lineup and new tracks

:: Rose Hill Drive ::
:: Fox Theatre :: September 25 ::

By Brian F. Johnson

From 2003 through 2008, Boulder’s own Rose Hill Drive was riding high on a wave of success. They toured the world and opened for some of the biggest names in rock and roll, like The Who, The Black Crowes, and Van Halen. They drove two tour vans into the ground criss-crossing the country, and released two albums.

But when the reverb faded from their amps following their annual New Year’s Eve show at the Boulder Theater on December 31, 2008 — a show in which they covered Led Zeppelin II in its entirety — it looked like the band was done.

The band members were exhausted from the constant touring. They weren’t happy with the label that had helped them to release their second album, and they needed to get out of that damn van.

The band announced an indefinite hiatus and shut down the machine that had been controlling their lives for the previous five years. “We’d been on the road for so long, pushing this idea of touring until you make it, and that was becoming a lifestyle that wouldn’t let up,” said Jake Sproul during a recent interview with The Marquee. “It felt very alliterating. I mean, life was happening, but it was happening in this weird way, where we knew the van as our house and we knew each other as our immediate family.”

Drummer Nate Barnes, in an interview later the same day, agreed, adding, “When we finished that Boulder Theater show we needed an extended break. We were just over the way we’d been doing things, and we kind of felt a bit pigeon-holed into a genre that we didn’t necessarily feel like we were trying to be in. It became well known that we could play Zeppelin and Band of Gypsies really well, and it got to the point where people would be calling out those songs more than they called out ours. We just really needed a fresh start,” Barnes said.

So the boys took time. Jake went to school at CU for some time. Nate taught private lessons, was a camp counselor at Dog House Music’s rock and roll summer camp for kids in Lafayette, and played in another Front Range band, the Dualistics. And guitarist Daniel Sproul (Jake’s brother) took up a habit more addictive than heroin — golf.

A year later, Jake had decided that a state college was “not for me,” and that “music is my life and has been my life and it feels so good when it’s the right situation. So realizing that, I could start creating in a process that is totally different and less confining. Less confining because what we were doing was perhaps not as natural as an expression as we had intended it to be. And in that, this release of songs just started coming out,” he said.

The biggest difference between Rose Hill Drive a few years ago and this Rose Hill Drive 2.0 version is the addition of a fourth member. While Jake Sproul has long held down the bass and vocal spots for the band, he’s now on guitar, and they have invited bassist Jimmy Stofer to take on the low end. Stofer, who has toured with a slew of local bands, from Hello Kavita and The Flobots, to his project with Barnes, The Dualistics, brings a new element to the band’s sound that they could not capture as a three piece.

“Adding Jimmy is this whole new experience for me, because he’s just this straight, pure bass player,” said Barnes. “Just having him back there to groove with and play off of each other is a huge difference.”

Daniel added: “Not just having a fourth person, but also having his creativity has pushed the sound to a more accessible level. It’s allowed the freedom for Jake to open up and not be doing math equations on his bass and singing at the same time. I’ve released myself as part of the rhythm section and I feel like I can explore a little more,” he said.

While the band has upwards of 35 new songs ready to roll, they aren’t planning a full release any time soon. Instead, the band plans on dolling out tracks a little at a time, starting with drop cards that they will be giving out to ticket purchasers for  their Fox Theatre show this month. The drop card will give fans two new studio recordings to download for free.

The songs, according to Jake, still have the elements of classic rock that Rose Hill Drive is known for, but they also incorporate some more modern elements. Jake said that he’s super appreciative of the patience of the fans who gave them time to find themselves musically and get to a place where these new songs could not only be born, but also released.

“You know, we were going crazy before, trying to do something that, to me, was a lot like a chicken with its head cut off. Now, we’re a fully functioning chicken,” he said.

:: Rose Hill Drive ::

:: Fox Theatre :: September 25 ::

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