The St. John's band covers the Ben E. King classic for its farewell.
“I won't cry, I won't cry,
No, I won't shed a tear,
Just as long as you stand,
Stand by me.”
The St. John’s band that’s been carrying Canada’s heart on its sleeve for more than a decade will be carrying it no more: Hey Rosetta! is parting ways.
“It’s our hope that you see this beautiful community we’ve made as not a dying thing but as a spreading and a living thing, and that you’ll come with us as we branch out and continue to do our things as individuals and that you’ll stand by us ‘til we're all back together again,” the band — with members Tim Baker, Adam Hogan, Phil Maloney, Josh Ward, Kinley Dowling, Romesh Thavanathan and Mara Pellerin — said in a statement.
Read the full statement from the band below, and listen to their goodbye song, a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," above.
Hey Rosetta!’s symphonic pop has soundtracked sing-alongs across the country (and world) through four full-length albums, five EPs, one Polaris short-list nomination and numerous East Coast and Music Newfoundland and Labrador Awards. 2014’s Second Sight was the last release from the band.
Hey Rosetta! will be performing five final shows — three in Toronto, two in St. John’s — in December to say goodbye.
Statement from Hey Rosetta!:
Just wanted to briefly take a tiny slice of an already full-to-bursting internet to fill you in on what’s happening in the world of Hey Rosetta!. We thought we ought to drown out the rumour mill and speak from our own mouths for a minute. ‘Cause we have so much love and respect for the community of supporters and friends and fans we’ve had over the years. It’s been a dizzying ride. Dizzying like busy, but also more recently, dizzying like when the sand you’re standing on starts shifting and you’re not sure how to stand and act normal. A couple of us in our little family have decided they needed to leave the band and the mad cycle of it. And honestly not for a minute were any of us really surprised. It’s been an all-encompassing thing for over a decade, and don’t we all have this thirst for what we’re not at. And doesn’t life never wait. And despite all the movement and light and love there is on the road, or perhaps because of it, you begin to sort of exist beyond any sense of reality or responsibility — to family, to friends, to self, to security, to art, to anything — and the pressures build up and pull at you and it’s kind of a miracle that seven people can stay together and work single-mindedly towards one end for so long really, even something as beautiful and privileged and cool as making music.
And so all of this is to say we’ll be playing our last shows for the foreseeable future this December. We’ve been debating whether or not to do the annual St. John’s Christmas shows, and we figure it’s sort of the same question as to whether you want to just fade out and ghost from the party, or whether you want to say goodnight to everyone and to hug and thank them all for such a time. We’re opting for hugs, and so will be playing our St. John’s shows as scheduled, as well as a few shows in Toronto as there are lots of people to hug there, too. If we could we’d travel the world hugging everyone that’s ever seen us live, or bought a record, or streamed a song — well we would, but that’s dreams.
But speaking of dreams, we still have them and of a future together, too, and see this break as a dose of reality and separation and stillness and stretching. And the music certainly won’t stop. So for the time being you can check out everyone’s projects beyond the band. Tim will still be writing and recording his songs, so look out for his solo release in 2018 and follow his tribulations on Twitter/Instagram at @heytimbaker. Phil is opening a brewery/café at the firehall on Duckworth Street, downtown St. John’s, which you can follow on Twitter at @phillipmaloney and Instagram at @bigdrumphill. Romesh will continue producing, mixing, playing, scoring and teaching under his moniker “tinyemperor” and “tinykingdomstudios,” which you can follow on Facebook or Instagram at @tiny.emperor. Kinley is going to continue her solo work and activism and you can keep up with her on Twitter/Instagram at @kinleydowling. Mara is also continuing her solo work with her project Wunderstrands as well as helping run Girls Rock NL. Adam and Josh will both be busy teaching and playing and working and living and loving in St. John’s.
Over 10 years ago now, Tim wrote “we’re taking our aging lives, and we’re waving a new goodbye, our arms open wide” — a song we’ve played on every tour since, and a song that seems to fit here again. It’s a song about leaving home and touring across the country and encountering so much more love and support and goodness than you ever expected. It’s about saying goodbye, but not by looking at what is lost, but by embracing what’s coming at you. So it’s our hope that you see this beautiful community we’ve made as not a dying thing but as a spreading and a living thing, and that you’ll come with us as we branch out and continue to do our things as individuals and that you’ll stand by us 'til we're all back together again. In that spirit, here’s a cover we recorded last year, trying to look chill on the crumbling mountains and in love with all of ye.
Below, musicians Jenn Grant, Hawksley Workman, Dan Mangan, Yukon Blonde, Hannah Georgas and journalist Stephen Brunt offer their heartfelt farewells.
"I can't remember the first Hey Rosetta! show I was at, or when we first met exactly. It was all in a blur of happiness, brokeness, friends, drunkeness, 20-something year olds playing music. And soon I started to see this band and their fans grow into something majestic. It was amazing to see this young, lovely band be so completely adored. But all that attention never got the better of them. They are the salt of the earth, and I love them.
"One wintery night a million years ago Tim and I talked on the phone. He was going to party, I was storm stayed in my little apartment in Halifax. We talked about making a pact. That at the end of our lives we would look back and smile, maybe even think of each other. We both wrote a song that night with this in mind. His was called 'We Made a Pact' and mine was called 'Parachutes.'
"There is something in their music that has always been like a friend, creeping into nostalgia, always driving with emotion. And there were years there that it seemed like their feet never touched the ground, or made it back to their own front steps. But because of that we all got to feel something extra special under the bright lights on those many, many concert nights.
"Music lasts forever by's! Thank you for that and so much more."
"I met Hey Rosetta! when we played a house concert in Waterloo together in 2007. There were maybe eight people in the audience, and it’s likely that they were just members of the other three bands on the bill. There was a noise complaint as soon as HR began, but they didn’t want to end the concert, so they played acoustically — the full seven-piece band with strings, etc. Obviously, it was pretty magical. I think this was a suitable introduction to the band because it describes exactly what the band offers to the world: to feel huge and small at the same time. Epic and fragile. The band gives their audiences permission to feel something grand, to be a part of the great big cosmic kitchen party in the sky. Even the best parties have to mellow — and isn’t there often some beautiful introspection in the dewy, broken, morning haze? I look forward to the next party, whenever it comes around."
“I'm lucky that I produced one of their first records, and so I feel like I saw that band when they were still young and timid and I remember getting a demo — or maybe it was from their very first EP — getting a copy, and I knew they were looking for producers and so when I heard it I just said, that this is a dream, this is like a dream project that had come out of nowhere, you know? But you could just tell that what they were doing was exceptional.
“I also think working around a guy like Tim is a real lesson — Tim's a worker. He's fastidious, and he's not a guy who's phoning it in. This is a band of people who really mean what they're doing, and I think that continues. To be honest with you, being around Tim when I get to be, it's the same thing every time. i always feel like he's got four times as much energy as me and he's able to accomplish six times as much stuff as me and he's so driven and bound to be a brilliant voice among so much of a malaise, you know? He's one of these guys that just won’t rest, I don't think, unless he's saying the thing he wants to say in the most eloquent way possible. and with that said — in those [early] days, they were such a fiercely musical band, you know? I think in a way they were the beginning of a new generation of indie music coming out of Newfoundland, and I think they're heroic, where they come from.
“And I remember being in the studio [with them] thinking my only job here is to make sure that these kids know how good they are and that they believe it, you know? Because I think there's a tendency coming from Newfoundland to — you don't toot your own horn, you know? And I just wanted to make sure that they were gonna toot their horn as loudly as possible.”
"When we think of Hey Rosetta!, the true meaning of East Coast humility and hospitality is the first thing that comes to mind.
"In 2015 the band took us on a North American tour that was easily the best of our careers (and that's saying a lot, we've toured with a lot of bands). The theatres were gorgeous, the crowds attentive, and the post-show hangs are now a fuzzy blur but never unforgettable.
"Finishing in St. John's, Newfoundland, their hometown, at the end of that tour meant being taken carolling, having Christmas brunches and being invited into their families. But what meant the most from that tour was joining them onstage each night for their encore performance of 'Land You Love.' Tim wrote an earnest federal election protest anthem for our generation, and watching it connect with fans each night was an honour.
"We managed to form a unique and personal relationship with all seven of these immensely talented members of this band and wish them all the best with future endeavours.
Hey Rosetta! we love you."
"I've had the pleasure of playing shows with Hey Rosetta! over the years and we have grown to become great pals. They are an incredible live act and I love how each player brings a unique component to the show. They write music that's extremely anthemic and moving. It's been special getting the chance to play, share and talk about music together."
Artistic director/founding organizer of music and literary festival Writers at Woody Point; also created a popular 2010 Olympics TV essay that included Hey Rosetta!'s "Red Heart."
"[Hey Rosetta!] was kind of the voice of a different Newfoundland, to me.... We actually did a show on a boat [for Writers at Woody Point in 2007], Bonne Bay is where we are in western [Newfoundland] — so Gros Morne. And it's on a fjord and we had [Hey Rosetta!] play on a boat. We went out at midnight after all of our other stuff was done, which then it turned out to be this glorious moonlit night and parked out in the middle of a dead calm bay. And this boat — it's not that big a tour boat, and I had 100 tickets to sell, which I think was illegal even that number, and they played below deck so it was like playing inside a tin can. It was acoustically the worst environment ever. I remembered being out on the dock scalping; I had tickets, we hadn't sold out and I had this wad of tickets and I was selling them to local kids, you know, people were coming onto the boat at midnight and we ended up packing this thing. And it's still one of the most memorable — I go to a lot of shows, it's still one of my favourite shows of my entire life. Musically it sounded like hell, but it was just so perfect out there on the water....
"I remember listening to pre-release versions of the record sitting on the floor in my little house in Newfoundland with these guys, late at night. It was a privilege. I thought from early days, musically, they were tremendous. I think lyrically Tim is a brilliant, brilliant writer. There's also a lack of pretentiousness about them. For people who are sophisticated, musically, as they are, there was a real kind of down-to-Earth Newfoundland quality about the group. I liked everything about those guys."
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