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Hot Water Music

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Chris Wollard und Jason Black, am: 25.03.2004 ]

Hot Water Music gehören sicherlich zu den am härtesten arbeitenden Bands überhaupt. Es ist nichts Außergewöhnliches mehr für die Band, mehr als 250 Shows im Jahr zu spielen und die Platten kommen auch in schöner Regelmäßigkeit. Bei den meisten anderen Bands könnte man zu Recht behaupten, dass es sich der Fokus wohl mehr um Quantität als um Qualität dreht. Dies ist bei Hot Water Music definitiv nicht der Fall. Vielmehr wissen sie mit jedem Album noch eins drauf zu setzen, was man auf dem grandiosen letzten Werk "Caution" jederzeit nachhören kann. Ich sprach mit Chris und Jason über die amerikanische Medienlandschaft, kulturelle Unterschiede und wie das Ganze die Band und das eigene Umfeld beeinflusst.

 

Musicscan: Where are you going to record this time around?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Same place. Brian is hard to beat. He is easy to work with and we are really good friends with him now and we know each other well enough to know how to work with each other.
Chris: Because that can be really tough, when you spend 8 months on a record and then you get in there and the guys is like "that sucks." We know how to talk with Brian.

Musicscan: How do you manage to keep your sanity while on the road, since you are pretty much on the road all the time?

Hot Water Music: Jason: That's a good question. I don't pay attention to anything at all. That is the only way I can do it. It is an exercise in patience.
Chris: It is crazy, because you always hear people who tell you to hurry up. Like "hurry up, we have to get to the hotel" or "hurry up, we have to go to the venue" and then we just sit there for hours. It is ultimately just a lot of waiting around.

Musicscan: Does it have a bit of a job feeling after all those years?

Hot Water Music: Jason: With everything you do a lot, there are times when you don't want to do it. Even when it is the most fun thing in the world.
Chris: We are not going to have hardly any days off in the next months. But then once you get to the shows and the people start coming in you are just loosening up. Maybe all day long you are like "fuck, why am I here", but then as soon as the doors open you know why.

Musicscan: Do you think you are also escaping something by touring so much? I don't just mean the 9 to 5 kind of thing.

Hot Water Music: Chris: There have been periods in my life where I did nothing but escape, but those are very rare. There are times when I just do not want to be home, when home sucks.

Musicscan: Did you all grow up in Gainesville?

Hot Water Music: Jason: We are all originally from a couple hours south, from the beach.

Musicscan: What was it like to grow up in Florida?

Hot Water Music: Chris: Really weird, Florida is just really weird. Gainesville is totally different than any other city in Florida, because most cities in Florida are on the beach. So it is usually just old people. But Gainesville is in the middle and there is no beach anywhere near. There is just a lot of kids and rednecks. It is a small town, though, and small towns sometimes are just very fucking small if you know what I mean.

Musicscan: What makes for a good show in your opinion?

Hot Water Music: Jason: It could be so many different things. For example, I could have a bad show for no reason at all. One thing could happen and I would just be pissed of for the rest of the show, while everyone else thought it was the best show on the entire tour.
Chris: Yesterday could have turned into a bad show, because we went on and all the monitors were feading back, it was ridiculous. We didn't get to soundcheck so we were just up there and…

Musicscan: And you can't really show that you are pissed really.

Hot Water Music: Jason: Exactly, because the minute when people see you getting pissed and they are having fun, you don't really care anymore, because they only get to do it tonight. We get to do it for another 2 months. But there is a lot that could turn a show bad. Just one person being a dick the whole time and you get focused on that and you are like "God, is this an asshole". And that is what you think about for the rest of the show.

Musicscan: It doesn't only have to do with the audience response then?

Hot Water Music: Jason: It has a lot to do with it, but when there are twenty people that are going nuts it can be just as awesome as 2000 people going nuts. It is just the vibe, it depends if you can get the vibe going. Like the show we played in Amsterdam this time, it was the best show I have ever had there, but the people there are pretty mellow. So you have to adjust to different places. Nobody left and everybody cheered when we were done.

Musicscan: So do you think you can control the audience reaction to some extent?

Hot Water Music: Jason: To some extent yes, you can guide it. You can try to get them going, but if they don't want to have fun, they are not going to. We have tried some times, but it usually doesn't really work.

Musicscan: Would you say the perception of the band has changed for you since the beginning?

Hot Water Music: Chris: In certain ways yes. When we started we were totally broke and did not have any plans besides playing some shows once in a while. But as far as the fundamentals like writing songs and how we interact are concerned they have always been the same.
Jason: I think it has become easier. It is harder because we work more often, but we can work in a more comfortable situation. And we know to work with each other a lot better. I can't remember the last time we had an actual fight. But in the old days we were like "I fucking hate you, you son of a bitch".

Musicscan: Do you think there is something that could happen to the relationship of the four of you right now?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Probably not, because the worst thing that could happen would probably be that we would not tour as much, which would not necessarily be a bad thing. And even if we never toured again, we would still do records, because we have a lot of fun doing it.

Musicscan: Your new working situation probably also has a lot to do with Epitaph.

Hot Water Music: Chris: That has a lot to do with it for me, but that is only because I am confident that they give a shit and they are not going to do anything fucked up to us. We are friends.

Musicscan: Is it really a friendship or isn't it more like a business relationship?

Hot Water Music: Jason: It is friendship. I mean I am not friends with everyone who works there, but there is about 30 people working for Epitaph in the States and 30 people here, but everybody that we know is awesome.
Chris: It just makes it easier. In the old days when we toured here with the Doghouse Record, we broke up. You are not sure who to call when you have a big problem. But now we know that we have people back home keeping it together for us, so we can concentrate on just being a band.
Jason: And also when we are here, we can call the office in Amsterdam and the office in L.A. doesn't even have to hear about it. Of if you go to Australia they also have an office down there. We are not always talking to the same person, but it is set up so that there are different people working on all different territories. It is really cool to be able to do that, instead of having to call Var in Gainesville when we are in Freiburg and we are fucked.

Musicscan: Have the kids changed at your shows since you are Epitaph?

Hot Water Music: Jason: The tours have changed since we have been on Epitaph, not necessarily the kids. A lot more young people are coming out to see bands like us then when we started.
Chris: The first four years we just did house shows or really small clubs and everybody just had to know in order to be there. They had to know a lot about the underground scene in order to find out where our show was. Now there are so many more bands and promoters and the scene is so much more active and so many new kids every day. So, of course, it changed.

Musicscan: As far as punk is concerned, do you think that is a good thing?

Hot Water Music: Jason: That is a 50/50 kind of question. It is awesome because a lot more bands can afford to do their band full-time now, there are a lot more opportunities. But it is also bad, because there is no filtering system anymore. You can just start a band and say you are punkrock. That is all you have to do, which is fine because it shouldn't be an exclusive club, but there are just so many people that don't know what they are talking about and what they are involved with and how cool it really is. They just see some shit on MTV and they decide they want to be on MTV, too.
Chris: But that is not punk, that is just a punkrock sound. It is a distorted guitar and he or she may look punk, but that's it. And it is cool to look punk now, instead of getting beat up by the jocks in highschool, they are hanging out together. What is up with that?
Jason: I think it stayed better over here that in the States. In the States are fucking awful, there are so many bands popping up left and right and they are huge for a month and then you never hear from them again. It sucks because it attracts a lot of people that are into pop sounds. They only want to hear one song and not the entire album. They just buy the single and sit at home. There are bands who sell millions of records, but only draw about 200 people a night.

Musicscan: So what is the big difference between Germany and the States for you?

Hot Water Music: Chris: In the States, people haven't been political until recently. Everybody is so pissed off about Bush. Even Good Charlotte are pissed off and that means something. Everybody is actually angry. I think over here people are just not saturated with crap, braindead music and braindead songs. This might be really generalizing the entire scene, but it seems people are still a lot more passionate over here, like the way it used to be. We don't have any squats. There are a few underground warehouse venues, you can find that, but they are usually not as solid of a place like this. You wouldn't have a PA and lightning, a stage. I just get a different vibe over here completely. I don't like the States too much, I like everywhere else better. I mean it is a beautiful country, but there is a McDonald's on every fucking corner.

Musicscan: We are getting there, too, tough.

Hot Water Music: Chris: I know, I noticed there are a lot more than when we first toured Europe. In the States there are more commercials on TV than actual programs. It's all just about products.
Jason: I think it also has to do that we get in touch with people like you over here that are more well-read and educated and you care. You could go out into the country here and find an 80 year old lady and she would know what is going on. If you go to Kansas in the States for example they are like "he won, so it must be OK."

Musicscan: Do you think the media systems are different, too?

Hot Water Music: Jason: I think they are much better here. They are much more open here and in the States you only get news that are related to the US. Like the train incident in Madrid was probably on CNN for five minutes and then it was back to election 2004. I mean 200 people just died and the fucking election is not for another eight months.
Chris: We don't know for sure that that is what happened, because we are on tour, but that is probably what happened. That is always the way it is. People come up to us and ask us "what do you think about this" and we often do not have any idea what they are talking about. I watch the news, but I have no idea what you are talking about.

Musicscan: Do you think the different media systems also reflect on the music scene and the punk scene in particular?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Yes, everything is so sugar-coated in the States that it has trickled all the way down. Punkrock is nice now in the States, but it is not supposed to be safe.

Musicscan: Do you think it can carry any weight or meaning when it is not underground?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Oh yes, definitely. I think Public Enemy did, I think Rage Against The Machine did, Bad Religion, NOFX. Some of them are still independent, but they are definitely not underground. There are a lot of bands that are taking advantage of that I think.

Musicscan: How closely do you still feel connected to the whole DIY punk scene?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Pretty close, because we have a lot of friends that are in bands that still operate in that realm. So every time I get a little bit out of touch, for example after eight weeks of doing the Warped Tour, but then we are hanging out with the kids from F-Minus and then I know that I am back to the normal world instead of stupid outside festivals.
Chris: Sometimes I still put out records by myself, DIY you know. But on the same time, some records are on Epitaph. There is an argument either way. If everything is underground then you are making it a little club. The people in Kansas for example will never be able to find out about your record. You have to have distribution, it shouldn't be just the people that already know that buy the record. That is just preaching to the choir.

Musicscan: So getting back to the whole media issue, do you think a band can portray an image or even exist without the media nowadays?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Yes, I think so. We did for a long time, before we signed to Epitaph and we were doing alright. For us it was always much better here than in the States, because we started coming over here earlier than a lot of bands did and we lucked out and it worked out well for us. But the media is necessary to a certain extent, but after you have reached a certain level you hit the ceiling and you are not going to go any farther unless you start getting press coverage in order to reach more people. But at the same time there are weird things that happen. Brand New are a perfect example. They were super small until they did the Dashboard Confessional tour and then they were gone, through the roof, but you never read anything until the new record came out and it sold about 20.000 copies in the first week. So there are still these weird anomalies.

Musicscan: Did you witness that the way you were portrayed in the media changed as you got bigger?

Hot Water Music:Jason: It was a really slow growth for us and we always had a really good handle on things the whole time. It was not like all of a sudden we got big. It has just been step by step, every tour has been a little better and every record has done a little better, but nothing dramatic.
Chris: For example, this was the first good Amsterdam show we have ever had. So obviously you notice that, but it was still only slightly better than the last time. It is not like night and day.

Musicscan: Sure, but what I was interested in was the media side of things. I mean, Hot Water Music gets pretty good press coverage over here and you are pretty much in every major music magazine. Do you try to keep up with that? Do you read reviews or stories about you?

Hot Water Music: Jason: Not so much. You have a 50/50 chance that it comes out as you think it went by the time it gets transcribed and then goes to the editor and then goes to print. So by the time it gets to print, you can't really do anything about it except call the guy up and tell him that he is a dick and then he is going to write that you said that he is a dick. It is a bad situation and you just have to let it go.
Chris: I think if you read too much about what other people think about you, it is going to start affecting what you think about it. Then you are like "oh, we shouldn't do this, because they didn't like this". I want to write what we want to write. If they want to write about it, that is fine, but we put our 2 cents in already. Here is the record, this is what we like, this is what we want to do. And you read some of it, of course. If I see anything, I will read it, but I don't go out looking for it.

Musicscan: Do you feel like you can influence that image they portray at all? Probably only through live shows and a direct communication with the audience I would assume.

Hot Water Music: Jason: I think the only bands that really influence the way there band is portrayed are the ones that don't shut up about it. We don't really care what anyone thinks. We are all punkrockers, but this is just a band. I have seen it work out for a lot of our friends, but I see it backfiring, too. Once you go down that image path you are fucking stuck. For example, AFI can't put out a pop record, they have to put out a dark, spooky kind of record. Imagine Dave suddenly wearing Bill Cosby sweaters on stage, the kids would hate it, which sucks, because Dave can't go anywhere, because he always looks like him. I mean it can really work out for you, but I don't want to be on stage when I am not on stage. I don't want the band to have to go down that path. It is just too limited.
Chris: We are different people than we were ten years go. You put out music that you feel good about right then.

Musicscan: That is an interesting point. When you write a song or an album, do you only care about the here and now or do also care about that you have to like the record ten years down the road?

Hot Water Music: Chris: Of course, when you are in the studio, you try to make something that you will like for the rest of your life. That is not always the easiest thing to do. But as far as the writing is concerned, it is about the here and now. That is what the lyrics have always been about, this is going on right now. It is the next chapter of a book.
Jason: It is weird sometimes when you play songs that you wrote about six years ago. Some songs just don't work in our sets anymore musically and climatically. You can only hope that even if it is only here and now that even down the line it will still feel relevant.

 
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