by Jessica Nguyen
If you pay attention to what’s current in the world of indie music, you may have heard of the Canadian band Hey Rosetta. The band has yet to stand still this year. After a performance at the Juno awards in February, a new album release in May and a show at one of the summer’s biggest festivals (Bonnaroo, of course), Hey Rosetta is about to tour the United Kingdom and Germany. But before this journey, members Phil Maloney and Tim Baker were gracious enough to take some time and answer a few questions for That Mag.
So, who is Hey Rosetta? “The band name is a reference to the very famous artifact Rosetta stone,” says Baker. “It’s a calling to this kind of thing, this kind of simple stumbled upon keystone that unlocked a whole new world view and reality, or maybe it’s just something funny to yell at strangers from the sunroof of your mother’s Chrysler.”
Baker formed Hey Rosetta in 2005, although I am told it’s not as it is now as it was back then. He played solo for a year but wanted and needed more sound and dynamics then just his solo guitar could muster. Like many bands, there have been lineup changes over the endless miles. The current line up of Hey Rosetta has been tougher for about three years now.
Hey Rosetta has a pretty busy touring schedule so when I asked Maloney which place he is most excited about performing in, he responds with being excited to return to Europe . “We’ve been over there a few times already and the shows seem to be getting better and better. It’s such a cultural shift from North America and I’m eager to soak it up. I’m most looking forward to exploring more of Germany and Ireland.”
Maloney also adds that “touring in a band is pretty awesome. Being able to travel to a new city every day and play music for people isn’t something that most people are able to do in there lives. All that said, it can be difficult at times living such a transient lifestyle. I definitely miss my girlfriend, my cat, family and friends. But lucky for us they’re still there when we get back. I also miss my house coat and slippers. I guess I could take them with me but there isn’t much lounging time at the hotel.”
When I ask Maloney what makes a good show he replies, “There’s a lot of energy that goes into putting off a show and that energy can be felt in the room. If the crowd is super excited and attentive, it really helps the overall vibe on stage. In my opinion, the sound mix for ourselves up on stage is very important as well. Not being able to hear key things will cause us to play sloppily together and get pretty frustrating.”
Hey Rosetta’s album Seeds was released in May, but they still want to spend as much time at home writing and arranging new tunes when this tour is over. Maloney describes it as “a slow process of banging our heads together for many hours a day trying to craft these songs into something were all happy with. But hopefully it will work out. I am sure it will.”
Writing songs, banging heads together…Maloney’s quote made me wonder about the song “Bandages” was all about. “More then just a simple song of hope and finding love,” he says. “This song is all tied up with our home, Newfoundland, as well. Tim wrote this in the spring after a long, cold, lonely Newfoundland winter and the idea of finding love and spring got all knotted up together.”
Baker also has interests besides playing and writing music. If you head over to the Hey Rosetta website, you will find the “Seeds” section. Baker says “it’s basically about linking videos and websites about sustainability, local diet, organic agriculture and responsible consumerism. Came about as the record Seeds was coming out.”
Baker was really into having actual seeds in the packaging of the album, to carry the themes of the record (hope , regeneration, rebirth, springtime) from the metaphor to the literal, a tangible affect of an actual potted plant in your room. He also began reading and researching about seeds, modern agriculture and the pretty disturbing reality of mass food production. He thought this was very much worth sharing and what better time and place then now on their website after the release of their album.
Seeds is available now, but you just missed Hey Rosetta in Philadelphia. Maybe after they plant their songs into the minds of Europe, they’ll be back.