Kathryn Dove of the Grateful Web recently had the opportunity to see Boulder's own Rose Hill Drive open up for Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Red Rocks. A couple of days later we caught up with the band on tour and interviewed Jake Sproul, lead singer and bass guitarist. Here's what he had to say about the band, the music, and life on the road:
Grateful Web: Hi, this is Kathryn Dove with the Grateful Web. I have Jake Sproul here with me and we're going to interview Rose Hill Drive and find out what the bands been up to. First, Jake, how did you guys like opening up for Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Red Rocks?
Sproul: It was great. We are pretty big fans of Big Head Todd. We've seen 20+ shows of theirs growing up in Boulder, my brother and I. It was kind of like a pretty big deal for us. Being at Red Rocks also was pretty amazing. It's kind of like a full circle thing for us, locally.
Grateful Web: That's great. I noticed you guys are going on tour later this year with Chris Robinson. How did you guys meet up with him?
Sproul: His new group is more in the jam scene. We are booked by Madison House, they primarily book String Cheese Incident and Keller Williams. Being involved with those people brought us together with Chris. We are in the same circle, with the same kind of music. I wouldn't necessarily say that we're a jam band, but because we are booked by Madison House, that's how it all got started.
Grateful Web: What is the best thing about going on tour?
Sproul: I'd say just being able to see different places and to see the world. There's nothing like it. I've spent my share of time sitting in my hometown and doing practically nothing. I have to arrange a series of activities to keep myself occupied. But being out here, I'm in Cincinnati right now, I've been here once now, and this is my second time. I get to see what's going on in Cincinnati right now and then another place tomorrow. It's great.
Grateful Web: It kind of blows your mind.
Sproul: It is mind-blowing. Especially with the state that the country's in right now. The state of the youth. There's a lot of big change to come. Being all around for that is pretty awesome. You get a pretty good consensus of what's going on. We headed up to Canada for three days for the Warped Tour, and we just got back down into the States. The youth in Canada is completely different. There are a lot of factors that contribute to that attitude change. Seeing the difference between the youth in America, and the youth in Canada, and the youth in Detroit, compared to the youth in Colorado. I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to witness that first hand.
Grateful Web: That's great. So you were talking about all of the changes that are going on. What do you think about Rocking the Vote and getting more people out to vote? I've heard that statistically more people vote for stars on American Idol, than vote for the Presidential election. What do you think about getting more young people out to vote?
Sproul: It's obviously a good thing. I've never heard that fact about American Idol. That's fucked up. At the same time there's a group here yelling every day around lunchtime. I hear them on the stage yelling at all the kids: "It doesn't matter what color your hair is; it doesn't matter what sex you are, but we gotta take Bush out of office." "Bush is an asshole," and all this shit. It's just a really one-sided deal. I really prefer the attitude of just getting out to vote and not taking a side. Trying to demean one candidate in the Presidential election defaces democracy. If we want it work, we need to support the system, itself.
Grateful Web: Jake, you talked about noticing the difference between Canadian youth and youth in America. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you noticed?
Sproul: Generally, they are more down-to-earth. There is more of a humble vibe. Very open. Musically, just watching from the stage, we are definitely different music than the Warped Tour has. It's an interesting tour to be one, because we're so different than most of the punk groups that play. I witnessed in Canada kids walking by the stage and stopping and listening. They hang around for the whole set. Whereas, we get back to Detroit yesterday and play. Just by interactions and noticing things when we're playing, we see less of an attention span. They are just completely shut out. They want what they want. What they feel like they came to see, and they don't want to let anything else in. It's definitely a generalization. It's more so I noticed in the United States, than compared to Canada.
Grateful Web: That's interesting. Jake you told us the best thing about going on tour is seeing new cities and meeting new people. What is the worst thing about going on tour?
Sproul: The worst thing, I guess, would be the opposite of tour, which is not being able to be home. We've got a lot of great friends, and I love Boulder. I've got a great sense of place in Boulder.
Grateful Web: Jake your brother Daniel is also in the band. How do you guys get along?
Sproul: We've been getting along quite well. We've always been really close siblings. My parents split up recently, which kind of rocked our boat a little bit. It's been a big learning process. With me and Daniel, it just takes communication. Understanding where we are and what our intentions are. Just keeping it open.
Grateful Web: What are your goals as a musician? What do you want to accomplish?
Sproul: I started playing when our bass player quit in our group. It's been a really big challenge for me to pick it up and learn how to play. Just being able to just flow with it while I'm singing too. It's like patting your head and rubbing your stomach.
Grateful Web: You do such a great job with it.
Sproul: I just want it to flow and not have to pretend. Lots of people on this tour have all of their antics. There's a group on this tour called "Story of the Year," they are a new punk group and they do flying kicks and flips off their amps, and all this really weird stuff. I just want to stray away from that as a musician. When I'm playing bass line to back up Daniel's solo, I'm really listening and making it a movement. Instead of going through the motions. I like to be flowing with the songs and never make it sound the same twice. That kind of deal. Just making it flow and making it musical every time.
I read a really cool quote in the Colorado Daily the other day. It was by Joe DiMaggio, "I want to make every game I play as good as it can be, because you never know when there's a kid in the stands who's seeing me for the first time or seeing me for the last."
I really thought about that, because I started noticing that a lot of people really tune into what we're saying and our songs and having a good time at the show. Whatever's going on in my head, I want to be able to get out of that and just be there with the music. And doing whatever it is that I do as well as I can. So that it's there for the people who enjoy it – if they're seeing us for the first time or the last time.
Grateful Web: That's great. When I saw you guys up at Red Rocks opening up for Big Head Todd and the Monsters, you guys did a Led Zeppelin cover, and the crowd just went wild. Would you say that Led Zeppelin is one of your greatest influences?
Sproul: Yeah, they're a huge influence. All of the old groups basically. Led Zeppelin had so much mystery. Even when they were giving interviews, they were so mysterious. They were just crazy. I read "Hammer of the Gods," which is their biography, to try to figure out more because I was so intrigued. You can't really describe it. The history of Led Zeppelin isn't even what Led Zeppelin is and there separate lives. I bought that new DVD that just came out, Led Zeppelin, its unreal, the way they work together on stage. There are just small, subtle little things that that happened between them that are completely synchronized. They're just in it. I love them. I can speak for Daniel too. It's one of our top favorite groups.
Grateful Web: Are there any other musical influences that you have?
Sproul: Yeah. Old blues and stuff. I remember when we were little Otis Taylor, who is a local blues guy, used to come over and really shoved the blues in our face. He really worked with Daniel a lot on his unique Delta style. It's played in an open-G and it's really rhythm driven and pretty heavy. We actually went to a blues camp in Washington and got a heavy dose of it there. I've always been really into blues and then soul. Especially, a lot of that Motown stuff with those back beats. Just that living feeling that is in the music every time you hear it.
Grateful Web: Now you guys have come full circle and you're out there influencing other young musicians.
Sproul: Yeah, like my little brother Ben has a few friends who play the guitar and play the drums. They come to our shows and they really dig it. That's really cool, because they're from around our town. If they get a group together and start playing, that would be awesome. That's what it's all about.
Grateful Web: Thank you so much for the interview. I'm sure your fans will appreciate getting to know a little bit more about you and Rose Hill Drive. If your fans want to catch up with you, you're on tour right now, right?
Sproul: We're in Cincinnati and then we hit Boston, and two other places, and then we go back home. We have a show at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on September 4th and then another show at the Blue Bird.
Rose Hill Drive is: Jake Sproul on bass and vocals, Daniel Sproul on guitar and harmony vocals, and Nate Barnes on drums.