Rosu Lup, a group that has toured in support of acts like The Districts and Dr. Dog’s Eric Slick, has been featured by iconic Philadelphia radio station WXPN and is working on a new album with a collaborator of Sufjan Stevens, can trace its genesis back to a much less exciting place: Craigslist.
One-half of the Philadelphia band’s core, Jonathan Stewart, explains that he was writing a lot of music on his own but was looking for a collaborator. So he took to the popular classified-ad website, where he found a kindred spirit in Josh Marsh, to whom he sent some demo recordings.
“We met for coffee and seemed to have a lot in common, both as people and musically,” says Stewart in advance of Highway 81 Revisited’s seventh anniversary show on Saturday, May 12, at Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre, at which Rosu Lup will perform. “We sort of recorded on our own at Miner Street in Philly, and that was the beginning of the band. That was about four and a half years ago.”
After a 2013 debut EP, “Currents,” a full-length album, “Is Anything Real,” followed in 2016. While the EP has a more bare-bones, folk sound, “Is Anything Real” is a more lush affair, thanks to layering and orchestral accompaniment.
“Our first EP was definitely a little more indie rock, like a Ryan Adams influence for sure, maybe some Bruce Springsteen influence, but I think moving forward we’ve fallen into what we feel is our sound,” Stewart says. Between the EP and the first full-length, “Josh’s father passed away from ALS, and my uncle was killed walking home by a drunk driver. We wrote everything together. Some of it seems maybe melancholy but there’s like a silver lining of hope.”
The new album is almost entirely written, Stewart shares.
“We’re working on it with a producer who’s going to do one song with us, then we’ll do the normal business thing and see where it goes,” says Stevens. “His name is James McCalister, he’s the drummer for Sufjan Stevens and has done stuff with Pedro The Lion and has a project with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. He’s definitely a favorite drummer that I’ve been aware of the past few years. It’s a huge honor to work with him.”
For now, the LA-based McCalister and Rosu Lup are working on opposite coasts, but the band plans to visit him to work face to face.
One collaborator who’s closer to home is Delaware Water Gap’s Lou Rogai of Lewis & Clarke. Lewis & Clarke will headline Saturday’s show in Wilkes-Barre.
“I have a friend who’s a very big Lewis & Clarke fan who showed me Lou’s music years ago,” Stewart recalls, “when he released ‘Blasts of Holy Birth.’ He came through Miner Street (studio in Philadelphia) the day after I was in working on my record. I checked out the Weathervane session he did and I reached out and asked him to produce us. He and I got chatting, and he produced a song and it went really, really well, I think because as people we connect really well and musically I respect his ears and approach to creating. Then I asked him to play on some songs, and he was cool enough to come down from Delaware Water Gap and play. I think there’s mutual respect.”