Almost four years after announcing that they would be reforming, De Rosa finally release their third album ‘Weem’ on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records on Friday 22nd January.
Anyone familiar with their two critically acclaimed albums released on Chemikal Underground will find much to love in the new album but melody is perhaps the key feature of ‘Weem’. Songwriter Martin John Henry’s melodies has always been important in appreciating De Rosa but on ‘Weem’ they are absolutely central to the record’s appeal.
Of course a third De Rosa album had seemed extremely unlikely when the band split after the release of ‘Prevention’ in 2009. So when Martin talked to itm? about the new record he first explained why the band had reconvened in 2012 after a three year break.
“I think we missed it. I was making music on my solo project and the other guys were off doing various things. But we just all happened to be back briefly in Glasgow and we just had a chat. We decided we would do some new music because we felt we had unfinished business.
“At that point we didn’t know if we’d have any kind of label interest or anything so it was pretty much let’s do this for fun and see where it goes. “
Rather than throwing themselves straight back into live performance the band instead concentrated on making a new album.
“We looked at the songs that existed and started getting stuff together to write new material.
“Certainly lyrically I saw it as an opportunity to not bother thinking too much about meaning and to just go for it and see whatever came out.
“I think that’s reflected in the music as well and so it’s quite diverse. It was fun recording and spending time together after our hiatus.”
‘Weem’ continues the band’s musical evolution retaining their trademark melodic sensibility yet pushing their sound into new areas, something that Martin feels is important for the band’s development.
“Each studio album has had quite a different feel and I think ‘Weem’ is a different phase again. The new record has a fatter kind of sound with more instruments.”
Despite having a grander scope than the previous De Rosa albums, Martin was wary of pushing that aspect of the recording too far.
“The sessions were really full and really busy. We definitely were getting to the point where we had overworked it and so when it came to mixing it, the songs needed to be thinned out to make sense of it again.”
Long term studio collaborator Andy Miller played a key role in reaching the record’s final sound.
“We did a lot of editing once tracking was complete, then it was sent to Andy to mix remotely with pretty much no input from us. There was a tiny bit of feedback given over email and that was it.
“We got to a point where we trusted Andy with it and I think he made a really good job of it. I’d seen the internal workings of it and I struggled to see how anybody else could make sense of it but he did. So, go Andy!”
“It’s still a big sound but I actually think that it has been minimised a fair amount!”
Some of ‘Weem’ was recorded in a cottage in the rural village of the same name and the village eventually also lent its name to the record.
“We just liked the sound of it. We had a few things but that just stuck out as being something you would see and wouldn’t forget. I think it’s quite immediate but opaque at the same time.
“The place name Weem actually comes from the Gaelic ‘uamh’, meaning ‘cave’. When the record comes out you’ll see some of the inner sleeve images refer to that.”
Although guitarist Chris Connick and keyboardist Andy Bush were involved in recording ‘Weem’ they were unable to commit to playing live gigs thereby reducing the band to the original three piece of Martin and the Woodside bothers James and Neil (on bass and drums respectively). This not only contributed to the scarcity of gigs over the last few years but also provided a challenge for the band in terms of playing the songs from ‘Weem’ live.
“The album was made with the 5 piece so it’s hard to translate into a 3 piece sound. We did start with that in mind and we could play the record but it just changed it so much.
“So we thought that we should get a helping hand and try to put some more of the record across and approached our friend Gill Fleetwood.
“Gill’s not just playing piano but also samples from the record, bits and pieces of synth and doing vocals as well. We’re really happy with what she’s managed to add to the sound.”
The record also marks a departure for the band in that it’s their first album not to come out on Chemikal Underground. Martin explains that practicalities had a lot to do with why the band ended up working with Mogwai’s Rock Action Records.
“To us there were three record labels that we wanted to put it out on – Rock Action, Chemikal Undergound and Lost Map. But if you want to work with a label you just have to see what happens and what interest there is.
“Scheduling is always a huge factor and Chemikal Underground and Lost Map both really liked ‘Weem’ but had a really busy year ahead with their other releases.
“Rock Action offered to release it and we were over the moon.
“It’s good to work with a new label and it’s really interesting to be part of a label that’s run by one of our favourite bands.”
The initial promotion for the record started at the weekend with a sold out show as part of Celtic Connections. That date however is just the start of the band’s live campaign for 2016 and Martin hints that the band have one eye at least on the next steps.
“We’ve got a wee Scottish tour in January and then we’re looking to a more substantial tour in the Spring and we’re booking dates for that just now. We’ll be promoting the record for most of the year, I think.
“Whilst working on the next one!”
‘Weem’ is released on Rock Action Records on Friday 22nd January.
De Rosa’s remaining January dates are:-
More at www.derosaband.com