It’s a motto that the members of Rose Hill Drive know a little too well. Six years is a real momentum killer. “When we opened up for Queens of the Stone Age, we didn’t think Josh Homme saw our set,” Jake said. “He walks over to our van and says, ‘Hey guys, your set was (amazing).’ That was the best. Touring with The Who was rewarding but tiring for a relatively green band, and playing in support of 2008’s “Moon is the New Earth” only compounded the exhaustion. Seeing the band has already sold out its Dec. “The experiences we’ve all had doing different stuff for the last six years. This new reunion gig could launch a significant comeback; it could amount to nothing at all. Each of them have found a way to make a living playing music, but nothing really compares to Rose Hill Drive. After a long day of rehearsal, the guys are winding down at Efrain’s, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Lafayette’s bustling downtown corridor. Compared to six years ago, the current musical climate has been sorely lacking in Rose Hill Drive’s brand of bombastic rock. Barnes, also a family man, resides in nearby Longmont. 17 show at Larimer Lounge (a venue it’s never played before) and tickets to its Hodi’s Half Note New Year’s Eve bash are going fast, it’s clear that Rose Hill Drive’s resurrection and pending redemption hasn’t gone unnoticed. Together, they recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered the new effort, which makes it pure and personal. When we took it out on the road, it was frustrating because it didn’t sound like we wanted it to.”
They settled that with the addition of bassist Jimmy Stofer (The Fray, Flobots), who helped Rose Hill Drive flesh out their sound on stage by giving the band a dedicated low-end backbone. I feel like there’s a maturity in us now that wasn’t there six years ago. “If they want us, we’ll play, if they don’t, we won’t. After a six-year hiatus, Rose Hill Drive (left to right: Nathan Barnes, Jacob Sproul and Daniel Sproul) return to rock on Saturday. In short order, the band released its self-titled debut in 2006 and booked band a tour with legendary British outfit The Who. With this immediately catchy if familiar sound, Rose Hill Drive was quick to make waves. Nearly 17 years later, the longtime friends are working to recapture those long-lost feelings on an upcoming, currently untitled album. “It’d be great to have it be sustainable but, if not, (forget) it,” Jake concluded, leaning back in his chair, content with this sentiment, if not just the tostadas. “To me it sounds like what we were trying to create when we were young, but with a newfound originality,” Daniel says. Heck, maybe Japan will send more love. But once creation was confined to a computer program, he began to long for the visceral elements of good, old fashioned rock. After the tour was over, the band did a short-yet-demoralizing Colorado mountain circuit, complete with poorly attended stops in Breckenridge and Vail. “We practiced in her house on Rose Hill Drive and the crawlspace was so small you’d bump your head,” Daniel notes. From touring to recording to hiatuses, the Boulder-born rock trio has always done things on a grandiose scale. That’s a huge break for any band, and especially one that had climbed to the level of opening for The Who and Stone Temple Pilots before abruptly stopping. Just like that, the band was put to rest and only memories remained. It ain’t soul revival or surf-punk, just a unique blend that incorporates classic rock’s founding fathers (Led Zeppelin, Cream) and genre-defining indie outfits (The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age) to make a no-gimmicks Molotov cocktail. The Sproul brothers met Barnes while attending Boulder’s Fairview High School and began practicing in that (since demolished) house way back in 2000. Stofer soon left the band for his home state of Minnesota. But really, it’s whatever. We’ll do it because we love it.”
Go big or go home. “We were thinking what Rose Hill Drive would look like right now, so why don’t we just get together and do that,” Jake said, digging into a tostada. The high — not to mention money — paled in comparison to their time with Stone Temple Pilots. “Pete (Townshend) enjoyed our ‘Beatles’ quality,’” Jake said. 17, Rose Hill Drive will play its first show in nearly six years. Photo courtesy of the band. After the band broke up, Jake found a steady job composing commercial soundtracks with Daniel and started making his own electronica music. After all that time in the studio, replicating it live also proved to be a chore. Case in point: This Friday, Dec. This sensibly modernized, semi-hip small town just north of Denver is where Daniel decided to raise his family and make music alongside Jake. I was so into ‘Songs for the Deaf’ when it came out because we were still trying to write songs, and dig a hole to grow to pot.”
Daniel drops his fork and covers his laugh, remembering that they once tried to cultivate marijuana in his grandmother’s basement and blasted “Songs for the Deaf” to mask the sounds of digging. Without the creative freedom he provided, Rose Hill Drive wilted. “I think we always really struggled pulling those songs off live,” Barnes says. But brothers Daniel and Jake Sproul and drummer Nate Barnes don’t care. “So we started with chisels, ‘Shawshank Redemption‘ style, and it ended up being this 5-foot deep hole.”
“She eventually found it and thought we were going to kill her and bury her in it,” Jake reveals. To keep up with expectations, Jake, Daniel and Barnes withdrew into the studio for nearly two years and ended up recording close to 60 songs for their last record, 2011’s “Americana.” Only 12 tracks made the album, which gained little traction outside of Japan. “I realized how much I missed being in a band,” Barnes agreed. Go big or go home. Revitalized, the group set out for a lengthy run with its childhood idols, Stone Temple Pilots. They just want to rock again. “We were compensating in the studio, adding stuff for the lack of a solid core. As Jake signals for the check, Barnes loads up his to-go box, and Daniel scrapes the last few bites off his plate, nostalgia sets in.