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Hey Rosetta! Frontman Tim Baker Details Recording The Band's New Album 'Second Sight' [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

by Carolyn Menyes   Feb 5, 2015 09:55 AM EST

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Hey Rosetta! has already taken Canada by storm. The indie rock band, which blends the grandeur of Arcade Fire with the peppy sensibility of Vampire Weekend, has been nominated and shortlisted for a Polaris Prize and has become the hometown heroes of the province of Newfoundland. And now with its best album to date, the recently released Second Sight, America sure seems like the next place to say "hey" to Hey Rosetta!.

In contrast to the band's earlier efforts, which include the critically-acclaimed Into Your Lungs and Seeds. Second Sight marks a new sense of maturity from Hey Rosetta! It's not only the band's first album in four years -- the longest run between albums in its career -- but there's a newfound sense of sonic maturity, courtesy of a two month long recording process and the hand of Marcus Paquin (who has worked with the likes of Arcade Fire and The National).

When speaking to Music Times during the band's trip to New York City last month, Hey Rosetta! frontman Tim Baker detailed the process of crafting the band's most detailed album to date, which marked a four-year break between record releases.

"We took more time than we ever have before. It made the process so much better. We had a producer, Marcus Paquin, he was really patient and committed to going into the songs and finding all the right sounds and really taking the time to explore each tune and change things," Baker said. "We changed things in the studio like we've never done before, and we've only ever had a couple weeks in the studio. So we basically figure it all out then go in and try to capture the best performance we can, but this, we changed things drastically during the process, like a real band. It was great."

Baker described the recording process as "intense," and it often found the band writing and recording in two different studios simultaneously.

"I was in one studio almost the whole time doing percussion things and piano things and vocal things, and horns and strings. Then, the whole time there was this other studio, basically doing guitar parts and sound and ambience. And we never really knew what each other was doing, but it was a lot of fun," he said. "It's almost like a factory, you walk down there, 'What's happening boys?'"

The result is Second Sight, which features the energy and jangling guitars that Hey Rosetta!'s dedicated fans have come to know and love, but with an added layer of production.

Like all of Hey Rosetta!'s music, what helps to make Second Sight stand out is Baker's intense dedication to the songwriting process, which sometimes finds him pining over one line for long periods of time on occasion.

"I do work over every line and every syllable really. You want to. Sometimes, I go over the top and every line contained three or four slant lines in it, internal lines, but I like it. I love that tension between just the meaning of the phrase and the musicality of the phrase. That's a tall order to make both satisfying, but that's what poetry and songwriting is. That's why I love it. I definitely do work hard over it," Baker said.

And his goals are lofty, trying to move the audience into major emotional waves. "Everyone has those songs they listen to and they get goose bumps and they really moves them to feel something important and I don't feel like it's worth doing it unless you make that happen every now and then."

Despite being an expert songwriter, the process of Second Sight didn't come without challenges for Hey Rosetta!. The album needed that much dreaded last ingredient: the single. Though the end result, the catchy yet tender "Kintsukuroi," ended up being a highlight of the album it was the biggest test for Baker as an artist, taking "weeks and weeks and weeks."

"I love pop music, I love music that is under four minutes and catchy. That's essentially all I was trying to do. I can do that. We can do that successfully. Let's f*cking try it," he said. "So [knowing I had to write a single] affected the process because it made me so much more adamant then when I write something inane and innocuous, I really wanted to write something that was powerful to me and personal, and it just happened to be catchy, upbeat and three-and-a-half minutes long."

Despite its single-status -- a first for the band Hey Rosetta! -- "Kintsukuroi" matches the band's already established catalogue, rounding out Second Sight with its tight hooks and lovelorn lyricism.

The movement heard in "Kintsukuroi" and the rest of Second Sight translates into Hey Rosetta!'s electric live show. On Jan. 21, the band took on a sold-out show at New York City's Rockwood Music Hall. Filled with punchy energy, the room was on fire, with Newfoundland flags waving with pride and fans singing along to every song.

And just like Rockwood on that Wednesday night, Hey Rosetta! is set to take on the rest of North America -- it's only a matter of time.

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