Hot Water Music is interviewed by the Grand Rapids Press

Hot Water Music lets whim guide that whole 'musical style' thing

Saturday, March 15, 2003

By Katy Moore
The Grand Rapids Press

After years of touring and being in a new town every night, certain things become important. For the Gainesville, Fla., band Hot Water Music, a strong cup of java is high on the list.

"We try to find good coffee in every town we go to," said bassist Jason Black.

They know how to categorize that good cup of joe, too, but aren't quite as clear about categorizing their music.

It's been seven years since Hot Water Music started playing together and six years since the band's first record was released. In that time, Black, along with drummer George Robelo and vocalists/guitarists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, have found themselves faced with varying opinions as to what category their sound fits into.

Hot Water Music has been labeled a punk band as well as an emo band, but the guys don't place themselves in either camp. "We're just kind of a rock band," maintains Black.

"(Our sound is) just whatever we come up with when the four of us sit down and start writing. We don't have a blueprint. We don't sit down and try to make a record sound a certain way."

"We all grew up on punk rock," Black said. "And that's pretty much the seam we align ourselves with. But at the same time we don't want to be stuck in one (genre). We have more to do with the punk ideology than the sound."

And what is the punk ideology? "Doing as much for yourself as you can, keeping control of your music as much as you can, having cheap ticket prices and actually caring about the people who listen to your band -- realizing you're not any better than them."

As an independent band, Hot Water Music released five full-length albums.

Then, in 2001, the band put out its debut album from Epitaph Records, "A Flight and a Crash." And while it was hardly the band's first time in the studio, Black said the band was still apprehensive. "(We were) working with a new label, in a new studio and with a new producer -- it was all totally new. It made recording the record more stressful."

The band's sophomore CD from Epitaph, "Caution" was released this past October. "It's easily the one we're the most happy with thus far," Black said. "We used the same producer and the same studio as the last (CD).

"Everything about it was virtually identical to when we recorded the first record (with Epitaph). It was much more laid back."

Though they are signed to a label, Hot Water Music still views itself as a pretty independent band. But what major changes has the band noticed since inking a deal? "It's easier on our end," Black offered. "You don't have to worry about distribution for your record or promotions, and they always have CDs printed. They've handled big records for Rancid and the Offspring -- they know what they're doing."

And what about pressure from the label? "None," Black assured.

Hot Water spends tons of time on the road, though the band doesn't like to be out for more than a month at a time unless it's absolutely necessary. In both 2000 and 2002, the group was selected to be on the Warped Tour. At seven weeks, the Warped Tours were the longest the band's been on the road in one stretch. "There's only so many bands they can convince to go on it," Black said jokingly.

Hot Water has toured with both up-and-coming and established acts.

"It's very rare to be on tour with someone who's not fun," he said, adding "And if they're not fun, they're at least nice." Some of Hot Water Music's fun touring companions have included Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, Bouncing Souls and, most recently, Sparta.

Hot Water Music's years of touring have taken the band around the globe.

They've played everything from small, 300-seat venues to huge festivals.

"The largest crowd we played to was at a festival in Germany. There was something like 30,000 people there."

And how does that compare with performing for a crowd of only 300?

"At that point, it kinda doesn't -- there's nothing you can do with 30,000 people. You can just play and, hopefully, everyone's having a good time.

"With 300 (people), there's a little more intimacy, and you can control the crowd a little more."

© 2003 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission

Visit The href='' target='_blank'>Grand Rapids Press