By ROB DUGUAY One of the many things that makes New England great is that we get to experience all four seasons. Spring brings hope and excitement, summer gets people out and about on the beach and fall is beautiful with the falling leaves and crisp air.
One of the many things that makes New England great is that we get to experience all four seasons. Spring brings hope and excitement, summer gets people out and about on the beach and fall is beautiful with the falling leaves and crisp air.
Then winter comes and there’s a certain dread that comes with it, especially when the snow starts piling up.
Providence alternative rock trio Heather Rose In Clover evokes this feeling with the new single “Welcome To New England,” which was released through the Cranston based label Pitch & Prose on Feb. 26. This new track also arrives at the same time of a new chapter for the band, as vocalist and guitarist Heather Rose and bassist Lisa Middleton welcome Greg Hall into the fold on drums.
Rose and I recently had a talk about the cover art for the single, working with a duo of producers, what made the band want to work with Pitch & Prose, and a music video that’s in the works.
ROB DUGUAY: The cover art for “Welcome To New England” I find to be really funny while also relatable because anyone around here knows what it’s like to have that feeling of being submerged underneath so much snow after a storm and how you have to handle it. So who created the art for it with you, Lisa and Greg buried under the snow?
HEATHER ROSE: We initially had always thought that the song itself is a great description of how it feels to be exactly what you just said, basically. You’re encased in snow at certain times in New England and it was important to convey that but we also wanted it to be funny. You get to a point where you’ve lived here long enough, you’re like, ‘Oh, here we go again. Alright, fine. Spring will be here soon.’ We sketched out a really terrible drawing on a napkin and sent it to Annie Hoffman from the Portland- and Boston-based alternative rock band Weakened Friends. She’s recently started a company called Die Happy Society. It’s a really cool concept, and she does these little drawings and I think she even has a few tattoos that she’s drawn.
They’re really straightforward but they’re always adorable, and I thought that was the vibe that we needed. We sent her the little drawing on a napkin and she just knocked it out of the park after the first sketch. It turned out to be exactly what it is, buried under the snow with the Providence skyline in the background. There’s an extended version as well where she put a shovel and you can only see the handle.
RD: Is this the first recording you’ve had Greg on drums for? How did he end up joining the band with you and Lisa?
HR: Our former drummer, Chris Alvarado, laid down the drums on the track last year before the pandemic. We had it all set to go and everyone was living and dealing with February of 2020 thinking business as usual, and Chris had came to us to say that he’s getting a promotion at his job but it’s going to make him have to move out of the state. It was kind of a bittersweet thing, we were doing really well and we’ve been playing with Chris for like four years. We love him like a brother and we love his daughter and his wife, but he knew that he had to leave and he was going to start to transition out of the band. Then the pandemic hit and he ended up staying in Rhode Island a little longer and through the process of figuring out how to release new music and navigate that whole situation.
We knew that eventually he was going to have to move out for his job, so we started to look for a drummer, which on a normal day is very difficult. Rhode Island has a lot of great musicians but drummers have just been the bane of my existence. Ever since I started in bands when I was 14, they’re either so good that they just want to play covers and make money or they have a great attitude but they’re not up to a level you need them to be.
RD: Or they’re in eight different bands.
HR: Yeah, and that drives me nuts. I’ve tried to loosen up about it as the years have gone on, but do the math – if you have one band, you can focus all your energy on that music and make it succeed. If you’re in three other acts, you’re just cutting yourself up in pieces. I love side projects because they’re just on the side and you can have fun with them. I would love to be in a side project where I wasn’t managing the band and I didn’t have to sing, I would just wear a mask and play guitar.
We found Greg online and it was very 2020. We basically auditioned him and we hadn’t met in person for like six to seven months before we played with him for the first time. He learned the songs, he would send us recordings and we’d send them back. It’s really tough to figure out if personalities would work well, but he’s just been really great, Chris will always be a part of Heather Rose In Clover, and we even recently did a Zoom call to hang out with him and his family.
RD: Very cool.
HR: In the past at times, I’ve trashed a track and I’ve thrown it out to be respectful of a new member coming in, but the drums are exactly what we want and we figured that we’d talk to Greg about it. Greg told us that he didn’t need to play on it since he’ll be playing with us live and any virtual shows and he also said that the track sounds great. I think that was also a sign that we got a good guy and a good drummer on our hands.
RD: Along with Annie making the art for the single, she also worked as a co-producer on the track with Brian Charles from The Sheila Divine out of Boston. What was the experience like working with the both of them as producers?
HR: They’re probably in my top five, if not top three, and I would be challenged to find the third person who is as talented and as humble as both of them. Sometimes we’ll go in with a producer and they’ll have a specific idea about the song and there are tiers, you can tell that they’re above you and they have the last say and that’s great. Sometimes that has to happen, but with Annie and Brian I had an idea of what I wanted it to sound like in my head and they were able to make that happen. If I had another idea, we’d try it and it would either work or we’d go a different route. It was much more of a team feeling where I didn’t feel put upon at all, and they’re so talented … There are moments in the song where I know over the years that I’ve wanted to describe that little piece but I haven’t been able to do it, but now I have an example forever of the kind of feeling that I want. The track captures a dancey rock vibe, and I feel like Annie and Brian provided the foundation to help achieve that.
RD: It’s also awesome that you were part of this cohesive environment where everyone was working together for the common goal rather than having clashing ideals. With “Welcome To New England” being the band’s first release via Pitch & Prose, how did you get connected with them and what are your impressions on the way they handle things?
HR: Pitch & Prose is run by Matt Maggiacomo. He and I grew up together and we were actually in our first band together. I think we were pretty damn good for 14-year-olds, but it was a very strange thing where people in high school bands part ways and somebody becomes a dentist, another one becomes an engineer and so on. Matt played guitar in my first band, with Brad Mehlenbacher from Draco & The Malfoys on drums, and I was on vocals. We all grew apart but we each continued to have success in music, and anything Matt has done has sort of run parallel with me but we kept eyes on each other’s careers and supported each other. It was ultimately Pitch & Prose’s social responsibility agenda that really hit Lisa and I.
RD: Can we expect a full-length album or EP to follow up the single later this year?
HR: I know that we’ll be putting out a couple more singles just as we’re trying to figure out how things are going to evolve in respect to live shows and that sort of thing. We’re definitely writing all the time, so we’re starting to get a catalog of songs ready, but I think we’ll be putting out a few singles throughout the year. If we look through our notepads and see that we have been six to 10 songs, then that’s when we should head back to the studio, but I think there’s a lot that can be done while really focusing on a song at a time … We’ve been editing a video for “Welcome To New England” with a bunch of clips from all sorts of friends, bands and family that have been sent in, and we’re going to be putting them together. We’ll be releasing it later this month.