PHOTO BY MARK SQUIRES
"The song is everything," explains Jason Rossi, lead singer and songwriter behind blues and country-inspired rock band Hey Battlefield. "The heart of the song is the lyrics more than anything else." Said songs feature Rossi's family, dreams, and conversations the writer had with others or himself; the lyrics materialize by his low and authentic voice, complemented by a subtle use of harmonica. One of the band's most recent songs, "Orlando," is about delicately saying, "goodnight."
Discretely dressed, tall and slender, the dark-haired Rossi is hesitant to stand out from his band: "Narcissism is not a source of motivation for me" he says when asked about his role as frontman. They formed the band two years ago, with jazz drummer Michael Scheideler and bassist Tyler Krupsky, but Rossi wrote his first song when he was 19. Having grown up in a working class neighborhood in Queens, New York, he learned to play rhythm guitar. "I bought a guitar for my brother for Christmas one year. He never really touched it, so I started playing with it," Rossi says. "I never took lessons, but learned by practicing on my own." He grew up working in bars, "just doing shitty jobs, you know? I had so many jobs: in retail stores, in a bowling alley, for a telephone headset company and so much more."
What he learned the hard way is the sadness in songs like Silent Treatment and Lonely Talking. The name of the band is emotive, he says: "There is a little bit of anger in it." He can work it out in his day job: "I am in construction. I am also a really good carpenter but the only thing I really care about is my music."
HEY BATTLEFIELD PLAY AT JOE'S PUB IN NEW YORK ON AUGUST 14.