At the end of 2014, after years of hard touring alongside the likes of KORN, Godsmack, and Sevendust, the standout Merrimack Valley rock band Prospect Hill inexplicably split with its charismatic lead vocal star, Adam Fithian, replacing him with bassist Edgar Trancoso. This after repeat performances at Foxboro Stadium before New England Patriots and Revolution games, and with NFL and MLB deals in the balance.
The change was not exactly welcomed warmly by the Prospect Hill fanbase. But after an announcement that any music released without Fithian would be under a new band name, the band reunited in original form, smoothing over personal differences. With Prospect Hill back on its full time grind and returning to the Boston Freedom Rally main stage this Saturday, I spoke with Fithian about our old times petitioning politicians over marijuana fines and about the MassCann/NORML blowout on Boston Common this weekend.
MC: How many times has Prospect Hill performed at the Boston Freedom Rally?
AF: I believe this is either the sixth or seventh time. The first time in a while, first time back since you stopped booking the music for the Rally.
In 2009, after marijuana decriminalization passed in Mass, some cities and towns tried to raise the fines and illegally tried to make marijuana a criminal offense again. After Methuen’s then-Mayor, Bill Manzi, suggested so much in the Eagle-Tribune, I asked the most popular band in Methuen, Prospect Hill, to speak up on the matter and record a short video of you challenging the mayor on the issue while smoking a joint. Did you expect the mayor to respond so quickly? The Eagle-Tribune put it on the front page a few days in a row, and the mayor came up with a compromise. Did you expect those results? Why’d you get involved?
I believe cannabis should be utilized as medicine. There’s so much to be gained from cannabis, why ruin lives over it? Being part of the fight allowed us to see it in a new light and to really look into the benefits, and I hope we’ve been able to encourage others to do the same.
In Methuen, [we did not expect it to happen that way]. Obviously, we were hoping it would help, lending our voice, but really the band didn’t realize the effect it would have with the mayor and city council. We were pleased; it really worked out for all of our benefit, including the mayor. He was thankful after all [was] said and done, because he had a certain constituency that wanted to get tough on marijuana, and we helped keep him from doing something foolish. [MC: The mayor and his chief political rivals in town all wanted a compromise that both sides could agree with. In the end the mayor went from supporting a $300 additional fine and criminal charges for public cannabis use anywhere in the city of Methuen to backing a $100 civil fine only in city parks and schools. He praised Prospect Hill for helping him reach that compromise.]
What have been some of your favorite past Freedom Rally acts and speakers?
I’d have to say [former associate publisher of High Times] Rick Cusick, he’s always great. And of course Michael [Malta], we all still miss him, the King Of Pot, RIP. It always gives us pause this time of year, how we all still are missing him and wondering what he would be thinking and doing with legalization to be voted on in November. Always love seeing Danny Danko and Bobby Black from High Times, who Prospect Hill has done some memorable shows with. Those guys are the best, hoping to see them all at this year’s Rally.
For music: Graveyard BBQ, The Force, that year with ONYX was off the charts, TREE—we can’t even begin to talk about the Boston Freedom Rally without TREE and Sam Black Church. Also, The Organ Beats. Honestly, there’s been so many good acts at the Rally, we could be here a while, and I know I’m missing some I should have on that list.
This year’s Rally lineup?
This one is going to be huge [with] Yes on 4. Massachusetts is voting this year for legalization in November; the lineup has to live up to that. A huge lineup: Nullset, Slaine, Meth & Red. And the Wayland guys. That’s special for me, as we’ve played all over the country with Wayland, so to get to play the Rally with them at home is special.
What’s next for Prospect Hill?
We’ll be going back into the studio, recording new music. It may be heavier, not so much the pop we’ve often done for others in the past. It’s going to be only music that we want to write and record. We have no band debts, which is a great feeling, so everything is in play. We’ll likely do some week runs of touring as well. We’re back and yes, it does feel great. Can’t wait to see everybody at the Rally.