Hot Water Music
Hardcore Hurricane Heroes
Photo by Dallas Whitley
By Kortney Jmaeff (August 2003)Floridian post hardcore heroes Hot Water Music are a refreshing blast of muscular torque amidst a sea of limp, tepid, generic rock. Marrying a vicious twin axe guitar attack with profound, focused lyrics propels HWM to speedily becoming contenders and role models of the hardcore heap. Although they grabbed their name from a random Charles Bukowski non sequitur, the quartet has proven time and again that their formula is anything but nonsense.
HWM's intrepid twin guitar tantrum is tempered by front men Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, who also alternate between the throaty lead vocals. Jason Black manipulates the bass and cites many diverse talents as enlightenments in his salad days. George Rebelo is HWM's resident skin basher.
Many inspirations and influences were noted in the group's motivation to begin their musical voyage. Chuck valued Minor Threat and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but admits, in unison with Chris, that they received illuminations from countless facets, such as nonmusical outlets like teachers, family and friends. Jason remembers his virgin punk experiences listening to Youth of Today, Bad Religion, Minor Threat and the Circle Jerks. He found inspiration in the solid vocals of Soul Asylum and the Replacements, realizing that people could actually sing on punk records. Jason also introduced George to jazz and punk, who was a strict heavy metal fan before. They both enjoy jazz currently (NOT Kenny G however), such as standards like Miles Davis, Coltrane and Gillespie, and 1970's fusion.
Hailing from Gainesville, Florida made it less of a challenge for HWM to continue honing their skills in their respective instruments. This was in part due to Gaineville's smaller locale, cheaper rent, and a more nurturing environment then residing in a monstrous sized gotham. HWM also feels a sense of allegiance and inspiration for other talented Floridian groups.
Hot Water Music's aggressive, militant musical stance has caused many observers to name-drop such yesteryear titans as Fugazi and Nation Of Ulysses when describing the group. This is a positive by product for HWM, intentionally having set out just as four friends whose goal was to enjoy and make the best music that they could. Unconcerned with fitting in with specific genres and scenes allowed HWM to propagate in the more comfortable, independent punk milieu. They found this to be the most sustainable for their longevity, due to less malarkey being strewn about in the independent circles than found in an exorbitant, mainstream environment.
With the recent eruption of the worlds political scene, one may question whether an upsurge of more focused, serious groups forming is in the cards, instead of the current glut of head-in-the-sand, poppy, puppy love, punk rock. HWM feels, for the most part, that although the diversion of the sugarcoated rock can be enjoyable at times of distress, it isn't bona fide punk rock. They don't see a huge metamorphose in the mainstream happening anytime soon, but feel that the underground bands will always be around, ploughing out the path of originality, while the poppier music will continue to be consumed by the masses. HWM also believes that the political systems will always be disjointed from the average Joe- that the common man's premier struggle is just dealing with one's society, personal surroundings and culture.
The successes of these poppier groups, i.e., Sum 41, Saves the Day, has not caused HWM to feel alienated from that scene. However, they do notice a trend in performing to more youthful audiences. They understand the reasoning behind them not catching the mainstream's eye like the aforementioned bands, and are welcoming to audiences that may come and see them play, minus any hate groups looking to impose.
Artists not covering the lighter cheap thrills of cars, girls and parties in their albums, opting for weightier, meatier subject matter may at times find it a challenge to communicate thoughts and ideas without appearing contradictory. HWM admit that change is constant, that people are always growing, kinetic thoughts transforms peoples goals and views. HWM believe that they've never intentionally contradicted themselves, but rather, with age and experience have matured into different people since the band's genesis. Chuck describes their writing style as "completely personal, sometimes it would tend to be abstract, but that's what we needed to express. Whether we were on the same level or completely off our own tangent, it's always been pretty personal." The personal, abstract leanings of HWM have attracted a multitude of fans and supporters, appreciative of their veracious take on matters.
Hot Water Music is not without peers however. The method of their financial survival depends upon extensive touring, reaching people on a one-on-one basis. In this way, they have made many amigos on the road. Some bands that they really hit it off with on tour include Avail, Rice, Alkaline Trio, Against Me, and the Bouncing Souls. They admit they have never had a bad touring experience with any band, flourishing on a philosophy of making the best of any tour, constantly gaining allies and cohorts.
Having toured extensively, HWM has various opinions regarding the contrasts between various regions. Admitting that the majority of the venues they play are made up of a likeminded people whose main goal is to enjoy themselves, they also do notice some minor differences. They have noticed a collation from city to city: Cleveland's industrial attitude, San Diego's laid back mellow view. They feel Canada has a lot more open-minded support for the smaller labels and that the rule of 30% airplay of Canadian content is a cogent idea.
Currently, the members of HWM have been indulging in many fresher recordings. Chuck has been enjoying Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, admitting they've struck a chord with him lately. Lately, Chris has been savoring the saucy Swedish stompings of Division of Laura Lee. Jason has satisfied with sweet tooth with the retro-pop cadences of Hot Hot Heat and the Shins, rating them kings of the fun factor.
Hot Water Music's live show was a feat of jocundity, endurance, and obdurate skill. HWM's current home is Epitaph records, with their last two releases, 2001's Flight and a Crash, and 2002's Caution. Juggernaut anthems like "A Flight and a Crash" and "Swinger" were blasted out to a fervid throng of agog devotees. But don't take my word for it, quench your thirst for adamant, hearty hardcore when the Hot Water hurricanes to your locale.
Also see the Hot Water Music website
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