Rosavelt – Read between the lines
On either end of Rosavelt’s new record, Transistor Blues, you can almost hear the sound of a finger turning the page of an engaging book. Signaling the band’s gutsy rock intentions, “Channel One” ignites the record with feedback, distortion and attitude, keeping the senses anxiously on edge. Singer/guitarist Kevin Grasha says the song was partially inspired by the sprawling David Foster Wallace novel, Infinite Jest.
On the other end, fellow singer/guitarist Chris Allen turns down the amps as “Releasing The Stars” closes out the effort in delicate, sensitive fashion. This read is one you might slink into your favorite chair with on a humid evening as the crickets keep pace in the background. In Allen’s case, Ed Bradley’s Tupelo Nights is responsible for the flowing muse. “That’s my favorite thing that we’ve ever recorded, in terms of what we envisioned and what we ended up with,” Allen says. A perfect way to end the various textures and moods of Transistor Blue.
OK, so they’re well-read and they’d rather listen to National Public Radio than the latest pop sensations on the commercial airwaves. But the guys in the Rosavelt clan, rounded out by Keith Hanna on bass and Miles Loretta on drums, still love rock ‘n’ roll for all the loose, primitive reasons those Replacements records taught them growing up.
On the ramshackling bust-up “Ypsilanti”, they play over some bumbling, drunken clamor to underscore their point. “We did one take and it was just bad crowd noise — if that’s possible,” Grasha explains. “We did it a couple more times and it turned into legitimate non-planned madness, where Keith was typing ‘XYZ, XYZ’ on a typewriter.”
Such behavior also lent itself to Rosavelt’s current collaboration with fellow Ohioan Tim Easton. Both were opening for Steve Earle in Columbus when Rosavelt took the liberty of quenching their thirst with Easton’s dressing room beer. Easton didn’t mind, since he hid some in his trusty guitar case and somewhat admired Rosavelt’s resourcefulness. Easton eventually asked Rosavelt to be his touring band in support for his solo debut Special 20; they grew tighter on a West Coast tour and a subsequent opening slot for the Old 97’s.
Easton and Rosavelt plan to team up again this fall for some dates in the Midwest, with Rosavelt working double-duty as their own band and as Easton’s backing band. Allen says he’s thought about tinkering with some different arrangements for Easton’s set, but the logistics have been tough to figure. “Tim is so off the cuff,” he says. “I can just imagine myself getting a mandolin ready to go and then we’re playing some blues tune I never heard of before.”