Maine Music News met up with Prospect Hill for a show at Rockland, Maine’s Time Out Pub on April 26th, 2013, and had a chance to not only finally get to see the band’s high energy live show but also sat down and enjoyed a great conversation with three of the band members: Adam Fithian (vocals), Mark Roberge (drums), and Edgar Troncoso (bass.)
If you’ve been around New England the last few years, you’ve heard of Prospect Hill, you’re probably even a fan. If you are brand new to their sound and their story, we are going to hook you up with links to our previous album review of “Impact,” and some videos as well. Get on board, people, this band is New England born-and-raised and ready to take center-stage nationally. In fact, they’ve already been touring nationally on their own, as well as with some larger acts, for the past few months, and are starting to get a reputation.
“Impact” is full of songs, ballads, heavy metal, radio friendly rock, and through the entire offering the lyrics speak about standing up, getting out, reaching potential, having the drive to make it. It is evident that this band has drive and the balls to back up the challenge they write about in their songs. We asked the guys about the band’s history and touring nonstop.
MMN – For those that do not know about Prospect Hill, talk a little bit about the band.
Mark – We do not come from much. People do not realize we do not come from money. None of us has a dime. We just earned all of this. We had to work our asses off to get this band a trailer. We never had any financial backing. We started with hand-me-down equipment and toured with two vehicles. We have always worked hard, and our live show is where we sell it. We are highly passionate players. None of us are musically trained. We are all self-taught. People are leaving our shows talking about how intense our live show is.
Financially, we are doing better now than we have ever done. This is the first tour that we have made any money. We came home with a profit. We are selling a shit load of merchandise. We are killing it every night.
We are also bringing in a lot more of a guarantee every night, just because we are worth more. After you hit a spot 3 times, after that third time, if you are bringing people in, you are worth money. Just the fact that we broke Top 50 on Active Rock also helps us. It gives them a story to help promote. If we are going to a new market, we are worth something right off the bat because nationally we have a recognizable name now.
MMN –It sounds like you usually do not even get to have a hotel room.
Mark – Yes, that is a luxury for us.
Edgar – The last hotel room we stayed in was really nice, it was a $70 hotel room.
Mark – We broke our bank for that. We usually pick $50 rooms.
MMN – Is this how you thought it would be to play in a rock and roll band?
Adam – Everybody has gone through this.
Mark – This is what makes it real. If you do not have this, then you are not real.
Adam – It takes a long while just to get to this point.
MMN – How long have you been doing it?
Adam – Seven, almost eight, years. It will be eight in October.
Mark – Edgar and I have been playing together since sophomore year of high school. It has been almost 12 years. Adam has been performing since before then. He had a couple other bands that he performed with.
MMN – So you guys are sort of resigned that you are going to do your time. You are not looking for a quick fix?
Mark – Our first tour we were out in my pick-up truck towing a U-Haul and our old guitar player had his sign on it. We went all the way down the East Coast and back. That was the first step. Now, we have a van and trailer, and we are touring the Midwest on a regular basis.
MMN – So, how do you make ends meet?
Mark and Adam – We barely do.
MMN – Are you getting the actual press that you are looking for?
Adam – No, we need a lot more.
Mark – The more the better.
MMN – It seems like you are at that peak, just waiting for that small snowball to gain some momentum to turn into that huge avalanche called success.
Mark – We are hoping that is going to be the single “Life Goes On.” We have a good guy on our team that just joined us. He is a heavy hitter in the industry and he just jumped on. His name is Jimmy Walorz. He is responsible for Art of Dying’s success. He works for Hollywood Records. He is helping us with radio.
We had a different radio team working on “Come Alive.” It hit Top 50 even though it was a mess because of the whole label situation. We released the record in August under Carver Records. Stations picked up the single in August, and then in October, Octane picked up the single. Things fell through with the label. They had a bunch of inside stuff happen. They breached contract, and we cut away. When we finally officially got off the label, we decided to go and do our own radio campaign. That happened in February. We had stations that had picked up the single in August and now the life of the single was gone off that station. Same thing with Octane, they spun the hell out of it, but they finished up pretty much at the same time our new radio campaign was getting started. If they had all picked us up at the same time, instead of it being drawn out, we most likely would have broken Top 40.
MMN – It sounds like a lot of what you do is the business end of being in a band.
Mark – It seems like that is all we do. We have been doing it like that from the beginning. I did not like signing with the label. We ended up giving up control of the band, and they were not doing as much as we were doing on our own.
Adam – The whole thing with the label was just a setback. All they did was repackage our album, and then we had to go about repackaging it again.
MMN – Talk a little bit about your latest cd, “Impact”?
Mark – We released “Impact” in December of 2011 on our own, and it ended up #1 on the Northeast Billboard Charts. We worked with Anthony J Resta, who is a big producer in our area. Our ideas were the same musically. We wanted something that was still us, but a little different tone wise, that sounded different, and something that was not so cookie cutter. We released the record, and then we ended up signing with the label. They had us take 3 songs off the record, and then when we left the label and re-released it, we added them back on. That is pretty much the story of “Impact.”
We feel that the release and subsequent re-release of “Come Alive” pretty much stunted it from getting the airplay it deserved.
We are very confident in “Life Goes On.” We are already getting great feedback from all of the program directors that have heard it. Octane should be picking it up in two weeks. Once Octane gets it, then it should snowball, and all the other stations should start adding it. Right now, we are testing out the waters, and we are getting great feedback.
Adam – Plus, we were just added to Touch Tunes – those digital jukeboxes all around the country.
MMN – Is there any new music for us to look forward to?
Mark – Oh yes. We have done some preproduction. We have four songs tracked, nothing ready to go yet. In addition, we have five other ones on deck.
MMN – Are you staying in the same sort of musical direction?
Edgar – Our direction has always been somewhat broad. If you listen to the album, you will hear a couple ballads, and then there are a few hard rock songs. A couple are borderline pop, and a few are metal songs. We always stay within those genres and we try to put out an eclectic mix.
MMN – What are the band’s musical influences?
Adam – I love many different people, everyone from Tracy Chapman to Maynard James Keenan of Tool. Mike Patten of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. I love Bjork. I am eclectic in what I love. I also love Lionel Richie, and the Commodores. I really love early stuff like that.
Mark – When I was younger, I was really into Alanis Morissette. Before I started playing drums, all I listened to was Alanis Morissette, TLC, and R&B. As I got older, when Godsmack started picking up and got bigger, that is when I started playing drums. They are from our area, Shannon Larkin is an animal, and so is Sully. He was a big inspiration when I first came up. In addition, I cannot forget Limp Bizkit and Korn. I was force-fed Rush, The Who, Aerosmith and Led Zepplin because of my dad.
Edgar – I grew up with stepsisters that used to sing. They sang Spanish music and R&B. I was always kind of shy about it, but I used to sing with them too. We would have family get-togethers, and I would end up singing duets with them. I grew up listening to Rap and R&B. When I got older, I was big into the Family Values Tour. Mudvayne was a huge influence for me – Ryknow just flipped my world upside down, so much so that I would paint my face. It was my war paint, my stage persona.
Adam – We were backstage, out in Madison, Wisconsin, at Band Camp, and Edgar’s eyes lit up because Ryan Martinie (Ryknow) was there. He was there in case Fieldy of Korn had to leave as his wife was going to have a baby.
Edgar – Ya, I was backstage at Band Camp and randomly walked into this dude, and it was the first time I was star struck. I was stuttering, and all I could get out was “ah, you play bass.” I had the biggest, corniest smile ever in that photo.
MMN – What is the Prospect Hill writing process?
Adam – It is crazy. It pretty much goes like this – Derek comes up with a solid idea, Mark will fuck it up fancy, and then Edgar gets the idea straight with bass. Then vocally, Mark and I will kick it back and forth and it usually comes out.
MMN – It is music before the lyrics?
Adam – It is usually the music first.
Edgar – It is usually music first, then lyrics, and then melodies after.
Mark – There has been one instance. “Superhero” was one that the hook just came to me. I called Derek, and told him that I needed him to write music to this hook. Otherwise, there is usually a musical piece that inspires us. I write all the time, so I will look into what I have to see if it fits. If it does not, then I get ideas immediately. Adam is the type of person that he will sit on it for a while. It takes him a long time.
Edgar – He likes to sit on a ledge and glance at the stars.
Adam – I really do. I like that kind of personalization. I like that personal connection with a song more than anything, and it’s tough if I don’t get it. If a fan cannot read the expression when I am singing it, then what the fuck is the point of even singing it?
Edgar – You have to sing it with conviction. Adam wrote a song called “Manchester.” I love that song. It has taken on a cool new meaning for me. You can find it on YouTube and we might play it tonight.
MMN – How do you plan a live show?
Adam – Thank God for social media. Word gets out from there. We punish ourselves. We tell each other to get on Facebook and put up a post about the show each night.
MMN – You must have developed what you know the fans respond to and what you like to do every night.
Edgar – It is all passion driven. We do not totally plan our set. There might be a couple choreographed things. However, everything is all passion driven. You can come to two shows in a row and see a different performance each night.
Mark – We do not work off a printed setlist. Our set is solid, we have intros that lead right in, and we all know what the next song is. Every couple of months we change it up.
MMN – This sounds like you all put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work. What drives you?
Adam – Being famous, I could do without.
Mark – Please, he is the most famous person in Manchester. The kid is like the Fonz.
Adam – That is going to happen. However, I just wanted to make a living with music, and do something that people are touched by, and to be able to be paid for it.
Edgar – What drives me is seeing people touched by a song. Music should be open for interpretation. When someone hears a song, and puts their life into the song, and connects with it so deep that they end up in tears – that is what drives me. Just the other day, we played “Breakdown” and this woman ran out of the bar crying her eyes out. For what reason, I do not know, we never got a chance to connect after the show. An instance where our music touched me personally was with a song called “Rescued.” Mark wrote it about a few football players that went out fishing. I ended up singing the song on the record, and my father ended up passing away in a fishing accident. This was right before our CD release party. This song just took on a completely new meaning. That is what drives me. Music is so open for interpretation. Seeing people connect with it is worth more than gold to me.
MMN – Last year you picked up the Best Live Act at the 2012 New England Music Awards.
Adam – Yes, we were away for that. Our manager had to accept our award for us. It was quite an honor.
MMN – Do you have anything set up as far as opening for any national tours?
Edgar – We just played a tour, it was called “Twelve Days of Xmas Tour.” We played with Taproot, 12 Stones, Digital Summer, 3 Pill Morning, Dory Drive, and Gone for Days. That was our first real tour with bigger national bands. Prior to that, we have done countless tours on our own. We became close with everyone on the tour. It was funny, we just received our new Prospect Hill sweatshirts, and all of a sudden, we had a huge gang. All the bands on that tour bought the sweatshirt and everybody to this day wears them.
Adam – Everybody on that tour will tell you that they have never been with a group of guys on a tour, 35 guys or so that were like family. Everyone just got along so well.
MMN – Before we wrap this up, fans want to know about the new mascot, Emilio, the duck. How did Prospect Hill start traveling with a 5 week old duck?
Mark – Alcohol was involved.
Adam – Being on the road, we have met some amazing people along the way. We happened to be passing through Illinois, and we played at this place called the Bada Brew. We met these two people, Betsy and Freak, her husband, his name is Walter.
Mark – He is actually a well-known DJ in Illinois. He is the program director of the KAT 105.5 FM.
Adam – They fell in love with our music and are the nicest people in the world. You search this country for people like that. They have their own animal rescue league. It just so happened that we had a few days off. They offered us to stay at their cabin.
Edgar – They had their duck there, well, one of three ducks.
Adam – We ended up taking care of this duck for a few days. Basically, cleaning up shit, putting it in a tub, and feeding it.
Edgar – We had the duck for a few days. When it came time to bring him to the venue to met up with Betsy, after another drunken night, and we had the duck on the merchandise table. We asked, “Can we keep him?” Betsy said “Sure, just don’t kill him.” We told her “We will take care of him, we love him.” So, we took him on the road for a few weeks.
Adam – He is named after Emilio Estevez and the Mighty Ducks. The other night we were with some of the guys from Sevendust and Morgan Rose fell in love with Emilio. He got back on his tour bus and said “Prospect Hill’s duck changed my life.”
Mark – He said, “There are only three things in this world that love me and one of them is their duck.”
MMN – Thank you so much for your time guys. We are looking forward to the show, and we hope this helps get the word out about Prospect Hill.