St. John’s, NL
Hey Rosetta! hails from the rocky and cold northeastern province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. In 2005, Tim Baker arrived home from a road trip with a suitcase full of poems and melodies. Hey Rosetta! formed soon after with the addition of a string section (cellist Romesh Thavanathan and violinist Kinley Dowling) and rhythm section (bassist Josh Ward, drummer Phil Maloney and guitarist Adam Hogan). Since then, they’ve blossomed into a powerful group whose explosive live shows have
earned them a devoted following.
The band’s new album, Seeds, was produced by Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Wintersleep) and reveals a maturing lyrical depth and an adventurous musical atmosphere rooted to the band’s passion for epic musical experiences. Seeds was shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize and the band received two CASBY nominations, four ECMA nominations and a JUNO Award nomination for New Group of the Year.
It was while recording 2008’s breakthrough album Into Your Lungs (and around in your heart and on through your blood) that Tim Baker began to fully realize his remarkable vocal and lyrical abilities, and the band made a huge creative leap forward. They spent nearly three years on the road, touring in support of Into Your Lungs and were named one of Billboard’s Top 5 Canadian acts to watch. The album garnered a slew of awards and critical accolades, and was also short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize.
It was while touring Into Your Lungs that the concept of Seeds was born. “The title track, “Seeds”, came about while out on the highway a few years ago,” muses Baker. “In a way, it’s about what our lives had become, and how we’re like seeds that float around into different fields and cities, bringing something and trying to build something for the people that come to see us.”
The group spent time developing the sonic landscapes found on Seeds while maintaining a very full tour schedule that took them to Australia, China, Europe, the US and on numerous tours of Canada (including a tour of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut). The band holed up in Newfoundland to work on the songs before traveling to Halifax, Nova Scotia to record with Tony Doogan at The Sonic Temple (where they had tracked Into Your Lungs).
“Tony was really incredible at getting all the sounds and tones we’d dreamt up. He’s an amazing engineer and for all his Scottish bluster and pop-rock dogma, he is very sensitive, patient, and a gifted producer,” says Baker (who wrote all of the songs except “Downstairs”, “Young Glass”, and “Seeds” which he co-wrote with guitarist Adam Hogan).
Thematically, Seeds touches on themes ranging from depression to procreation. “Young Glass” was written after reading J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Baker explains: “It’s sort of directed at the novel’s main character, Franny. It describes a sleepwalking scene that didn’t actually occur in the book, but one that I imagined. We spent a lot of time flying and sleeping on planes and in airports, and I was always finding myself in half-waking states, feeling, as one does, all alone somewhere between dream and reality. When I’d wake up, I was always surrounded by people going about their business. I like that; a sort of evidence that even when we think we are completely alone, we are not. So I wrote Franny, a character who is plagued by such thoughts, a song about it… but it’s really about
Not surprisingly, a few of the songs on Seeds were inspired by the band’s itinerant lifestyle. Baker offers further reflection on the album’s title track: “Appropriately, it’s about the power of the road trip; escape, rebirth through movement…and the rare moments of escape and empowerment you get while highwaying yourself from town to town.”
“Seventeen” takes its title from “the never-ending, wild, woody highway 17 that runs across northern Ontario,” but the lyrics reveal something much more personal: “It’s a song about
being between childhood and adulthood, between the east and west coasts of the country, and just being caught between things in general…but it’s not really a song of despair. It’s also about being at a crossroads, not missing the past or stressing about the future, just being present, in the in-between, and the freedom of that.”
Hope is another of the album’s recurring themes: the first single “Welcome” was written for some close friends of Baker’s who were about to become parents. “I wrote a song for the little soon-to-be, who is now an 18 month old girl named Madeleine; healthy and beautiful, just like her parents. I was just sitting with them, talking to the unborn baby in a sort of cynical, joking way. You know, like ‘stay in there as long as you can, kid. Sorry, but it’s a mess out here…’ and so on. Later, alone, I was thinking about what it means to bring new life into the world: how it’s sort of sad, but also so hopeful and kind of religious.”
The album closes on a sweetly optimistic note, with “Bandages” reminding us that even when things seem hopeless, “the winter always ends.”