For The Love

19 July 2012 | 10:16 am | Brendan Crabb

Being in the post-metal game isn’t a full-time occupation, but it does afford Philadelphia’s Rosetta seemingly unobstructed creative freedom. Brendan Crabb takes a long, hard gaze at his shoes while talking to guitarist Matthew Weed.

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At the time of this interview, Rosetta axeman Matthew Weed has just finished a day's work; he modifies and repairs guitar amps for a living. He understandably sounds a fraction tired as a result. That he keeps busy is also evidence – if one really needs any – that playing avant-garde, ambient music fusing post-metal, sludge, hardcore and progressive elements really isn't all that financially lucrative. “Yeah, it pays for itself if you will, but it's not my main income or anything,” he explains. “All of the band has to work regular day jobs to pay the bills.” Does it being a labour of love allow more creative and personal freedom? “I think we're content to more or less let it be what it is, because I think there is a lot of freedom within the band. There isn't much pressure to bring in a lot of income. It can just be what it is and that's fine; it doesn't feel forced, if that makes sense.”

It does, and while a DIY band in virtually all facets of their operations, circumstances will soon enable Rosetta to take things even further. They're working on a new four-track EP, after the release of which they have plenty of options. “The hope is that we'll be able to record it in December and then it'll be out early next year, and that'll be our final record for Translation Loss Records. We've written two of the four songs that will go on that, and we're just practicing them, kind of going over them right now. Then we'll probably write the remaining two songs once we get back from touring at the end of the summer.

“Once we hand over the EP, our contract with them is up, and at that point we won't have a label that we're attached to. So we've been talking about a lot of different things. One possibility would be to move to a free model to release things over the Internet for free, or do vinyl only type of stuff, or vinyl download cards. We're not really sure yet. But I think the plan is to pursue something that's not traditional, rather than just signing to another label. It just seems like in many respects record labels are becoming obsolete over time. It seems like a business model that hasn't really kept up with technology, to a certain extent. The Internet and technology allow a band to connect much more directly with their potential audience. [Being a strictly DIY band] does suit our mindset. It's kind of a joke in some respects, because it's like the really super DIY bands… Those bands want to have just total control over every aspect of the production process, whether it's the ownership of the songs or the way that they're recorded, the packaging, artwork, all of that kind of stuff. But even for us, it's not so much the control aspect as it is the freedom to be able to do it when we want to do it, and not worry quite so much about deadlines and those kinds of things. It just feels like a much more relaxed way to do business.”

Where does he envision the EP heading stylistically then? “It's interesting, because it's pushing in some of the same directions as the [2010's] A Determinism Of Morality stuff, in the sense the songs do tend to be a little bit shorter than some of our earlier material. There's definitely more of an emphasis on speed and technicality. It's got a little bit more of the hardcore influence coming in, and probably less of the post-rock and metal-type stuff. But I also think there's going to be some parts that are going to stretch out a little bit, going to incorporate some ambient elements and that kind of thing. We're sort of trying to revisit some of the sounds that we created early on, without necessarily revisiting the song structures, if that makes sense, and trying to bring in this really raw palette of textures. We're incorporating as much as possible, but at the same time maintaining really tight song structures.”

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Their newfound free agency also means Rosetta will take their time crafting the next record. “When this EP is all finished up with we'll pretty much be able to start writing songs for a full-length. It's hard to put a timeframe on that at this point, but I think if all goes according to plan, then this EP will be recorded in December and we'll start writing songs in January for the next full-length. I don't know when it will be recorded, but that's the idea.”

Before all of that happens, they will also return to Australia. It will be Rosetta's first trek to these shores since their inaugural visit in 2008, which was the band's first ever international tour. This time they'll be accompanied by fellow Americans City Of Ships, with whom they recently released a split record. “Last time we came over it was fantastic,” the guitarist gushes. “I was quite surprised when we were over at how well the tour had been booked, how many people were coming out to the shows and how excited they were. So I expect much the same thing this time. But hopefully we'll be able to see more people, like this time around we're going to have a little bit more time. We're going to be able to go to Perth, which is also a really big bonus as we didn't get to do that last time. I would hope that because we're playing multiple shows in some cities, that there will be more chance to get to the all-ages crowd and be able to encounter more people.”

There's also the off-chance the band may road-test some new material while they're here. “We're doing a three-week tour of Europe; I think we might try to pilot some of the new stuff on that tour, and if that goes well we'll definitely play that stuff in Australia,” Weed enthuses. “[Fans can expect] a little bit more speed and intensity than last time. It's really loud and it's really intense. I would say it's confrontational, but I don't mean that in a negative way. I think that we try to read our audience before we play a show, and sometimes we'll pick the set list maybe five minutes before we play. It'll just be something where we're trying to respond to the environment of the room. So hopefully people will have something they can latch on to and are energised by. We like it when people move around, and we like to move around – just try to keep the energy level as high as possible while we're playing. I'm actually staying two weeks beyond the end of the tour, so that my wife and I can go backpacking on the Larapinta Trail west of Alice Springs. When the tour's over that's the plan, so I'm pretty stoked about that.”