Hey Rosetta!’s Josh Ward & Phil Maloney: touring, coffee, and Newfoundland

by W. Andrew Powell
Josh Ward and Phil Maloney of Hey Rosetta!

Music drifted across the sun-drenched grounds at WayHome Music Festival when I sat down to speak with Josh Ward and Phil Maloney of Hey Rosetta! earlier this summer. The crowds were building as some of the festival’s big acts prepared to perform, and ahead of the band’s own performance, Ward and Maloney sat down at the Samsung Canada pop-up to speak about Hey Rosetta!’s long tour schedule, coffee, and what Newfoundland means to them.

Hey Rosetta!’s sound is unmistakable, and their emotionally-charged, long-form style reflects the landscape of their home province. Their music–particularly the new album Second Sight–is reminiscent of waves on the shore, cool breezes coming in off the ocean, open fields, a deep history, and most of all, a sense of place that transcends time.

The band’s sound is hooky, and filled with pop beats that roll and dip beneath lead singer Tim Baker’s stunning, dreamy vocals. Even in the party-themed “Kintsukuroi”, one of the band’s most upbeat, single-esque tracks, the influence of their home province feels unmistakable in the best way possible.

With more than a decade recording and performing, the band has also been lucky enough to tour for long stretches. When I asked Josh Ward how they felt about those long tour schedule, he said it was not without some trade-off.

“Well, it’s interesting,” Ward said. “It’s sort of good and bad because we all have that sort of spark that makes you want to create things, but then you don’t get to because you have to be touring and stuff.”

“I don’t want to make it seem like touring isn’t amazing,” Ward continued, “but when you do it for three years straight on one record, you’re like, ‘Ahhh, I just want to go back and record something else,’ but you find a way. It’s still fun.”

The band is also fairly big compared to just about any other act in Canada. When I asked Maloney about what it’s like touring with so many band members, he said, “The only bad thing I would say is trying to go eat somewhere–waiting for seven, eight people to get ready to eat somewhere.”

On a lighter note, I also asked Ward and Maloney to talk about the weirdest thing that’s happened to them while they’ve been touring.

“We should have a good story,” Maloney said, “but we really don’t. We’re not really that cool. We’re not a cool band,” Maloney joked.

“We’re just like, remember that time when you played a note and it was the wrong one [Laughs],” said Ward.

On the road, one thing that drives them, however, is the chance to get a good cup of coffee.

“We get nerdy on coffee,” Ward said. “The first thing we do every morning on the road is we get up, everyone gets online and we track down the best coffee in whatever town we’re in and then it’s a mission to try to get there.”

Watch the interview with Ward and Maloney below to find out more about the quirks of touring, their thoughts about Newfoundland, and to hear what drove them to make the Fogo Sessions recordings.

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