Hey Rosetta! frontman loses creative outlet on tour

Fredericton was the first city to hear three new songs from Hey Rosetta! upcoming album. (Cara Smith/AQ)

Hey Rosetta! stopped in Fredericton to play their only Maritime show before getting back on the road for the United States and Europe.

The Newfoundland-based indie-rockers played at the Boyce Farmer’s Market last Monday, and then climbed back in the van the next day to play at the legendary Webster Hall in New York.

“We just got this American record deal less than a year ago and this German deal about the same time so we kind of owe them another tour. They put the record out and we gotta go support it and play it,” said front man Tim Baker, playing with the lid on his peppermint tea.

Hey Rosetta! just released their third studio album last year, Seeds, in between their hectic touring schedule. Their debut album, Plan Your Escape, was released in 2006 and since then, the band has been going non-stop.

The six-piece band consists of front man Baker, bassist Josh Ward, drummer Phil Maloney, guitarist Adam Hogan, Kinley Dowling playing violin and Romesh Thavanathan on cello.

“We have a really good crew. Everyone gets a long quite well. Inevitably, people have bad days and I’m certainly no exception. I think the worst thing about being on tour is that you’re never alone, it’s not the people that you’re with, it’s just that you’re with people… all the time,” said Baker.

Barker never takes his time alone for granite. On the road, he has no creative outlet or solitude. He said it was hard to divorce the two, writing and being on tour, and it something he’s had to embrace.

Baker said he spent years on the road being physically sick because he was on the go all the time.

While he talks about being sick while touring, his body is facing the other chairs and tables in the coffee shop. His voice is quiet. It seems as though he’s trying to explain it to himself, how interconnected the two are. Creativity and his physical self.

“If you’re worrying about how you’re not where you’re supposed to be and not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and stagnating as an artist or as a human it can be way too much stress.”

Since Baker doesn’t get much writing done on the road, he files all his ideas away for when he’s home. He said when he gets out of the van he would spend days without seeing anyone. He would put pen to paper and jot down everything he’d been storing.

When home, he had the solitude he had missed on tour but wouldn’t relax or sleep. Writing would take priority, and it was his time to be creative. But now he had to worry about exhaustion.

“You know they talk about like entertainment tonight or something, like Madonna has a nervous breakdown and I was like what the fuck is that, but that’s what it is. Well I didn’t have a nervous breakdown but I had this crazy fatigue where I couldn’t get out of bed for like a week. Every few months this would happen.”

Finding a balance between touring, performing and being at home is hard to find. When Bakers talks about the process of song writing he starts to smile and adjusts in his chair. “It’s so hopeful, it’s all about possibility,” he said. He sits forward and his eyes light up.

“It’s such a weird process. You have to be gifted, not just gifted in terms of your skills but you need to literally be given the gift of song, you’re just struck by something. You get this idea, this melody, this phrase, from the ether or something,” he said as he pretends to grab something from the air above him.

In the last 6 years, Hey Rosetta! has released 3 studio albums and spend most of their time in a big white van. Baker said nothing with the band had ever been intentional but he’s always thinking of what’s to come, like a true planner. He said they’ve been doing pre-production for their next album for the past three weeks, but haven’t started recording.

The band played introduced three new songs in Fredericton, the first city to hear them. They played to a crowd jumping around and singing the lyrics back at Baker. The venue was hot, and some people distanced themselves from the stage and sweating students. But even at the back, the crowd was nodding their heads to the consistent beat.

Even though Baker is always planning his next move, he said he’s always afraid more ideas won’t be given to him. His songs are always in the hands of the unknown.

“You’re kind of at the whim of whatever is giving you ideas, because you’ve lost it before. I think any writer can say that. It’s nowhere to be found. The key then, maybe, is to die gracefully instead of putting your thumb in your mouth and blowing up these ideas that really aren’t that good.”


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