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Roses Are Rad

Rose Hill Drive has come a long way...without me.

"No, it's too creepy," Nate protests.

Chit-shink. The phone announces that it's captured the scene.

Tonight's sparse crowd is nothing compared to the manic slew of desperate yuppies who crowded the bar on Valentine's Day. Still, there are a few fans waiting as the band sets volumes in the dark music room. Jake takes a candle and puts it at his foot. He's taped the set list to a black velvet curtain behind him and near the Wise Fools Pub logo, an owl perched on a crescent moon, scrutinizing the place like a bouncer eyes a fake ID.

A Rose is a rose: Jake Sproul (from left), Nate Barnes 
and Daniel Sproul are Rose Hill Drive.
Anthony Camera
A Rose is a rose: Jake Sproul (from left), Nate Barnes and Daniel Sproul are Rose Hill Drive.

The sound wells up, classic rock tones chiming through -- and Rose Hill Drive bursts into "In the News." I can't stop looking at Nate. He has total command of the drums and creates explosions or click-track mellow rhythms with total purpose. Jake's come into his own vocally. For years his vocal style would morph; he could do a killer Anthony Kiedis or Scott Weiland, but he just wasn't himself. Now he sounds utterly comfortable, authoritative. It's purely him. And with knuckles tattooed "BASS" and "LOVE," his bass tone is sweetly overdriven, fat, confident.

Daniel is across the stage from Jake. Their righty and lefty guitar necks point away from each other, giving the small stage an open feel and drawing eyes to Nate at center. Daniel's reserved tonight; this is not the venue for guitar-behind-the-head stunts, for on-stage humor. They're just rocking casually, almost as if it were a practice and they'd invited a few friends to watch.

Maybe halfway through, out comes the Led Zeppelin. The guys are playing "The Ocean," and for a moment, with his long curls, Daniel is Robert Plant-gone-guitarist. At any of their shows, someone compares them to Zeppelin. But they don't think they're a second coming. They want to bring riotous rock with a soul to the generation of instant messengers, picture-taking cell phones and Google.

Back at dinner, Jake's looking through the day's pictures on his phone.

"Did you delete all your pictures?" Nate asks.

"Yeah."

"Even the naked chicks?" Daniel wonders, neither surprised nor excited.

"Yeah, man. We've got bigger things to do."

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