Rose Hill Drive was barreling ahead on the rock ‘n’ roll fast track — until the Boulder rockers decided, 17 months ago, to slam on the brakes and re-evaluate their career.
After playing just one concert in all of 2009 — a New Year’s Eve gig opening for Jane’s Addiction in Aspen — the band’s back with a newfound passion for its music, a collection of fresh songs and a brand-new fourth member: bassist Jimmy Stofer.
Who: Rose Hill Drive
When: 10 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Sundown Saloon, 1136 Pearl St., Boulder
“We’ve been spending the time hanging out in Boulder and re-connecting with our friends,” said Jake Sproul, the band’s lead singer, who is switching from bass to second guitar. “We always go with our gut feelings and it just felt natural to take time off.”
Rose Hill Drive will debut its new four-piece lineup with a free concert at the Sundown Saloon on Wednesday night, the band’s first hometown show since its New Year’s Eve run at the Boulder Theater in late 2008. The group also will play Aspen’s Belly Up Tavern on June 26.
“We’ve recently been writing new music and that’s why we’re playing Boulder on Wednesday,” Sproul said. We wanted to share the new music with our friends and family.”
Sproul, whose brother, Daniel, plays lead guitar in the band, said Rose Hill Drive enjoyed its New Year’s show in Aspen, but didn’t set a timetable for a full-scale return.
“We weren’t planning any particular time to start again,” Sproul said. “We started getting this feeling to play again, started writing songs and slowly developed a desire to play music again. We missed it a lot.”
The band members didn’t want to force anything, so they let Rose Hill Drive re-develop at its own pace.
“We started writing songs that were really easy to put together and freely flowed, as opposed to writing contrived or cerebral music,” Sproul said. “We’re trying to have the songs be more concise, and for the lyrics to be more emotional and in-depth.
“We want the songs to easy to understand — instead of something just the band gets. We want the new music to be enjoyable to listen to and geared towards more people.”
Rose Hill Drive is also re-thinking the sonic side of its music. The band’s successfully blasted out rock, blues and metal sounds, but Sproul says the group’s anxious to try some new avenues.
“We want to do something different than we’ve done in the past,” Sproul said. “We don’t want to replicate what we’ve done. We want to move toward something more exciting for us.”
Rose Hill Drive was in the mode for change, so the band reorganized its musical lineup to go along with its new intentions. The band’s previous incarnation featured Sproul on bass and his brother Daniel handling all guitar duties, with Nate Barnes behind the drum kit. Now both Sproul brothers will play guitar and amp up the band’s sound.
“I’ve always written songs on the guitar, so it felt natural to stay on the guitar,” Sproul said. “This takes some of the load off my brother and allows him to focus more on voicing. Daniel will mostly play lead and I’ll mostly play rhythm guitar.
“It feels natural and I’m really enjoying the role.”
Rose Hill Drive added local musician Jimmy Stofer — who has played with The Fray and Hello Kavita — to round out the band on bass. The group met him through a mutual studio connection and asked him to become its fourth member.
“Everything feels really good and it feels like Jimmy completes the band,” Sproul said. “He has the same desire to play the kind of music we love, and he adds his own excitement and flavor to the music. He’s like the missing piece — and we found more of our voice as a four-piece.”
Rose Hill Drive’s looking to the future, but the band’s not in any rush to get there.
Having released albums in 2006 and 2008, the group already has performed on major concert stages with everyone from Wilco to The Who, and had its music featured in “Guitar Hero.” That’s why Rose Hill Drive plans to enjoy re-inventing itself this time around.
“We plan to make a record at some point,” Sproul said. “We’ll keep writing until we find that opportunity that feels good. We’re just enjoying the life of this band in its early stages.”
For now, Rose Hill Drive’s ready to show off the new band at the Sundown.
“We hang out at the Sundown all the time, so we thought it would be a good place to play,” Sproul said. “I love their jukebox and it feels like the kind of place where shows should happen. I think it’s a killer place to have a basement rock show.
“After that, we’ll be taking things day by day. We’d just like to get our new material out to a bigger audience.”