Know Thyself: Rosetta then and now

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Photo: Andrew Weiss

“For as long as there have been humans, we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we?” –Carl Sagan


There’s an incredible sense of earnestness and excitement in the music Rosetta creates. Music listeners are drawn to their style of heavy, melodic music, which holds a dense cosmic atmosphere that is undeniably alluring. Fans from all over who do not live near Philadelphia often wait patiently to see Rosetta tour near their city. The impact they’ve had on their listeners isn’t just exclusive to metal fans however—as time progresses, their audience steadily increases.


“I’m getting more intentional in figuring out how you can communicate hope in the format we’re using. Really loud or heavy music has a tendency to be either angry or confrontational, and I want to figure out how to communicate these other things through that language that people understand so it’s not weird or super esoteric,” guitarist Matt Weed says. So far, the themes Rosetta have explored have to do with inner self-discovery and social commentaries through allegorical stories of space exploration. “As I started to seek more and more feedback from people who listen to us, I’ve been reassured by people saying things such as, ‘Rosetta has this high level of seriousness which seems to be distinct, and absent of “violence.” It’s important to me that people can make that kind of distinction.” Just before Rosetta’s first album, The Galilean Satellites, was released, Matt put in a two-day marathon production job at the last minute as a result of unfortunate logistics. The results turned a lot of heads, and the band received a great deal of praise from critics and fans alike.


In a few short weeks, A Determinism of Morality, Rosetta’s third album, will be released by a band that has done some growing up in recent years. The writing process is now more organized than it was in the past. “It’s much more of a composition and scoring process than it used to be.” Matt says, “We have much more of a settledness and ease than we used to have. I definitely feel more relaxed about the whole thing than I used to, and treat things with a greater sense of humor and a little bit more detachment.” This sense of humor helped them get through some trying moments during their European tour. “There are certain things you can control, and one of those things is how well you play, and also your attitude. I have begun to realize that having a good attitude and approaching things with more lightheartedness and humor is pretty important to the long-term sustainability of the band,” Matt says.

In the months following their return to the states, they began to write Determinism. “It has more of a ‘controlled chaos’ kind of feel,” drummer BJ McMurtrie says, when asked about the new record and the direction they’ve taken with it. “We made a decision to not make long songs, just for the sake of having long songs,” McMurtrie says. Their decision to steer away from the longer track lengths wasn’t in an attempt to become radio friendly. Matt says, “It wasn’t made more accessible on purpose—we’re just playing music that we like, and the music we like has inevitably shifted over time and that reflects in the music we make.” BJ follows up by saying, “Rosetta started out long ago as a fun project where we thought, ‘Hey, let’s have fun and just do whatever,’ and I think it still carries true now that it’s become a serious project.”


Determinism was recorded with Andrew Schneider, who has worked with bands such as Cave In, Pelican, Unsane and labelmates City of Ships, who are touring through Europe with Rosetta again this summer. “He has the connections and the kind of history with late 90s hardcore, noise and metal kind of stuff we were really into. It felt like a natural partnership,” Matt says. The new album will have some interesting twists as well, such as piano and gang vocals. “After doing the gang vocals, I lost my voice for three days,” BJ says.


It’s no surprise that this group of musicians who create honest, sincere music are also down to earth themselves. Matt says, “It seems better to have our appearance be four people, none of whom are perfect, and they’re different people who have problems, and it’s important to be honest about that because it’s true of everybody. There’s nothing special about the four of us. We’ve just been working at the same thing for a long time and it seems to have produced something that other people enjoy and value.”

A Determinism of Morality will be released on May 25 through Translation Loss Records.

Photos:
Photo: Andrew Weiss