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Rose Hill Drive playing at Mexican restaurants, and other tales

Posted By: David Accomazzo

I grew up in Boulder as the Boulder-bred band Rose Hill Drive was establishing itself as a rock tour de force, and everyone loved them. Their shows were packed with kids from the local schools, and the question in anyone's mind wasn't if they would make it big, but when. Opening for The Who for string of dates in 2007, with just one album under the band's belt, seemed to solidify the group's seemingly inevitable rise to stardom. They were technical virtuosos with infused with the soul of rock ’n’ roll, and the band sold out shows like glitter at a Justin Beiber concert.

But something happened along the way. Success didn't come after two albums and years of relentless touring. The band took a "hiatus" and almost broke up. The tight-knit trio, which had formed when the members were in high school, added a bass player and became a two-guitar quartet. Success wasn't as easy now. Fox Theatre shows didn't sell out on a dime like they did in the past, and with its once-hardcore fan base growing up and leaving town, the band had to branch out to venues like the Bluebird Theater in Denver and the Belly Up in Aspen when it played shows in Colorado.

Now the band, teaming up with a company called Chair 11 Productions (is it "chair e11even"? I don't know), has made an honest and compelling short documentary called "17 Minutes on the Road" about where they are in their career.

"I thought that we were going to be the biggest thing ever and people had to realize it. And it's just not like that," says Daniel Sproul, in a backstage interview that kicks off the documentary. "I don't think that realization would have been easy when I was 18."

It's a profound thing to admit, and it's at the core of the progression of Rose Hill's career. They started fast and slowed down suddenly, and the g-forces from that transition surely caused some of the friction that led them to take a 17-month hiatus after their second album fizzled. Now they seem to have accepted where they are, and they make jokes about playing gigs in a Mexican restaurant and playing shows with zero women in attendance. Rose Hill Drive's story is a cautionary tale about trying to make it as a band. You might have all the talent in the world — and Rose Hill certainly has talent to spare — but that's no guarantee you'll be able to make even a modest living off it.

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The sad truth of the matter is that these guys were neither original nor, to be blunt, very good. They came along at a time when far better and more established "classic rock influenced" bands were already on the scene (Wolfmother, White Stripes, Black Keys, etc) and RHD came across as little more than a contrived, bandwagon-esque band with nothing original or groundbreaking to offer.

Sure, they were a flash-in-the-pan for the local teeny bopper set, but without any real staying power, they were easy to grow out of and even easier to forget.


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I completely disagree with your opinions Fartblossom.....I don't know how I can take what you say seriously with a name like that anyways. Orginality is subjective when it comes to music, I think they have a great sound and truly remain loyal to classic rock ideals, yet hit hard in their own respects.  They have played with the biggest bands in music....sure they aren't currently as succesful as the White Stripes were.  That's like saying that any professional basketball player sucks because they don't compare to Michael Jordan.  They play each and every show that I've have seen (I lost count) with energy unmatched by many live bands, including those you mention.  It does not matter if it's a small Mexican joint or a sold out concert opening for the Who, Snoop Dog, or Paramore .....they go all out.  Have you even been to a RHD live show?  They remained loyal to their fan base for so long.......I doubt many bands made it as far as them based on fans alone.