Rose Hill Drive
One Eyed Jacks
New Orleans, Louisiana
April 11, 2007
After Rose Hill Drive closed their performance at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans with a thunderous cover of “Immigrant Song,” I walked out into the thick, musty air of the French Quarter. The band’s trailer was hitched to a van across the street. All I could do was smirk satisfyingly about what I had just witnessed.
At that moment, I knew the band’s current tour of bars would soon be a thing of the past. The raw talent, humble persona, and grim determination of Rose Hill Drive’s live show distinguishes them from their contemporaries, and will assuredly guide them to a promising future.
Bassist Jacob Sproul, guitarist Daniel Sproul and drummer Nate Barnes are currently cavorting around the country, performing an hour and a half long set of their fat-bottom-ended rock songs with equal parts fuzzed guitar and bong-rattling drumming.
Upon hearing them for the first time, the influences are obvious, yet welcomed. Listening to Rose Hill Drive is like taking Tony Iommi’s speaker-blowing guitar solo in “Paranoid” and condensing it into a riff that would make Jimmy Page proud.
Songs like “Reptilian Blues,” “Look On Yonder Wall,” and “Showdown” are all riff-heavy rockers, complete with uncompromised guitar shred and thick waves of rhythm. It turns corners, rolls in a heavy pocket, and surprises listeners, consistently getting pushed further and further into exciting territory. But despite their assault on heaven, the music and band never come off as flashy and pretentious, or lewd and vile.
The group’s humble demeanor is only strengthened in the modest, yet grateful “thank you” Jacob acknowledges to the audience after each song. It’s a refreshing attitude, especially from a band that’s opened for rock royalty like The Who and Gov’t Mule.
Currently, their tour runs through a series of small bars that regularly house shitty wannabes and never-has-beens. One Eyed Jacks probably didn’t have more than 40 people in attendance (all of whom, might I add, were blown away by the tremendous force that was unleashed that evening).
But despite the pint-sized crowd, or perhaps because of it, Rose Hill Drive is playing with intentions a hundred times the venue’s capacity. Their overt affection toward their music separates them from other emerging rock bands. Other bands want to be famous; these guys want to be good.
Rose Hill Drive’s clear-headed determination permeates their music, attitude, and performance resulting in a band that is playing like veteran rockers. Having the privilege of catching this band now is to witness a band paying their dues and earning their wings.
While The Beacon, The Tabernacle, and Red Rocks aren’t quite on the horizon yet, they’re surely in the group’s future. So is the down payment on their tour bus.