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Hot Water Music

October 11th, 2003 · post by Chris Lever · Make a comment

Interview with Hot Water Music when they toured in Autumn 2003.

RN: Ok, let’s tear straight into this…how are you finding your time in the UK, with a relevant emphasis on ‘Finding’ your way around?
Jason: It’s good, we always have fun over here. This has been kind of a hectic tour coz we’ve been sharing everything with Alkaline Trio, so we’ve been a little bit at their mercy. Not really at their mercy, but we didn’t bring a crew with us or anything, so it’s a little bit more hectic than usual, but their crew are helping us out and stuff, and we’re flying out tomorrow morning…

RN: Back off to the States?
Jason: Yeah, so flying out after the biggest show is kinda hard coz we’ve got to get out of here, take a cab to the airport and whatever…

RN: You’ve pretty much covered the whole of Europe these days so what springs to mind when you’re about to hit the UK? Do you ever say ‘oh no, not the UK, I can’t stand the whatever?’
Jason: Oh no, I usually have a good time here, and in Germany. I have a pretty good time everywhere! I usually say ‘Oh no, not Italy!’ or ‘Oh no, not Spain!’

RN: What’s wrong with Italy and Spain?
Jason: It’s just the shows aren’t nearly as good there as they are for us here and in Germany, and I don’t think the scene is quite a developed down there either so it’s a little bit more of an uphill battle in those places.

RN: What’s it specifically like in Spain, coz I know they’re really into their old skool punk and ska.
Jason: It’s really metally and stuff, same thing in Italy, but it’s getting good, we’ve had good shows in both places so it’s not impenetrable, but I don’t know any bands that do really well in either place.

RN: So you just jump in, say you’ve done it and move on?
Jason: Yeah, we’ll probably go back again for a couple of shows next time coz it’s one of those things that’s making some progress, so I’d hate to not follow up on it.

RN: Every time you’ve come back to the UK you’ve been playing a larger venue, what’s it like playing the bigger crowds, and especially as ‘Caution’ seems to have really taken off?
Jason: It’s awesome! The last time we came over we did more shows and in bigger places and I think in a couple of instances the venues were too big and we did too many shows. Hopefully this tour will help out a bit since the ‘trio’ are doing so well over here, but it’s nice to see a progression as opposed to a recession…

RN: What was last night’s show like coz that’s a new venue for us in London?
Jason: It’s a pretty cool venue. It’s pretty small.

RN: What sort of capacity are we talking about?
Jason: I think it’s about seven or eight hundred. It’s not small, but it’s pretty small for what the ‘Trio’ have been doing, but I liked it a lot, I thought it was really nice.

RN: This is the second time, recently, that the ‘Trio’ have come over here and played a much more intimate club date, along side their pretty big tour…
Jason: Yeah, its super good that they do that, I think they’re on that teetering edge where they’re a little bit scared of doing Brixton Academy, and I don’t think they want to do it coz I know they love playing here, and they could do two shows, so they might as well. I like doing two shows in one city because it’s almost like having a day off, but you still get to play!

RN: You’ve been playing a lot of support slots recently, has there been a noticeable contingent of those crowds that have turned up just to see you?
Jason: It depends really. We haven’t headlined in so long. The last time we came here we headlined, but the last couple of things we’ve done in the States have been supports. It depends on the bill. On tours like this, not a lot of our fans come out coz a lot of people can’t get tickets, and sometimes on support tours, like on the AFI tour, the tickets are $16, which I don’t think is outrageous with the size of the places they’re playing, but I think there’s quite a few of our fans who’ll wait til they can see us play for more than half an hour…

RN: But in the UK, you’ve sometimes got to grab your favourite bands while they’re here, support slot or not, coz you don’t know how long it’s going to be til they next come back. We came here tonight to see you, and I guess seeing the Alkaline Trio is a bonus…but then it also helps that we didn’t have to pay to get in I suppose.
Jason: Absolutely!
**Laughter**

RN: So what are your views on the Straight Edge scene that’s seems to have been attached to the hardcore movement once again?
Jason: I don’t really have a view on it one way or the other, honestly. I was when I was in high school, we have a lot of friends that are, but I’m not super into labels at all, you know what I mean? I think we consider ourselves a punk rock band but we don’t really go around saying it; I think it’s a personal choice. I wish I was Straight Edge, I’d feel much better the next day if I were. The media are always going to attach something to something else. It’s like Good Charlotte as the poster boys for punk rock. It’s not that they’re not far removed from it, it’s just that there’s so much more to it, and to me the media has to latch something onto it to explain it to people who aren’t in the know about it

RN: Going back to your forthcoming tour with AFI, do you think they’re one of the main bands around at the minute responsible for turning it more into an image than a way of life?
Jason: I haven’t seen them since we toured with them in 1999, so I don’t know, but I was kinda hoping they’d pull it off. I’m into it if they can do it. If they can do it, and a band does it well, I think it’s awesome but there are times when you can tell people are trying too hard…

RN: Have you seen their latest video though, with all these kids x-ing up and stuff?
Jason: I don’t like that video at all, I don’t like that video and I will say that! We saw that video and it didn’t make any sense. The worst case scenario is that a bunch of kids are going to start dancing like that at their shows and a bunch of people are going to get hurt. I want to talk to them about it. I’m not sure what the song’s about or anything…

RN: But I can see them coming back to the UK, playing a bunch of shows and you know that half the kids who are going to be all x-ed up at the show are going to walk straight into McDonalds as soon as they leave!
Jason: Yeah, totally. When you get into any band that big and widely accepted the message gets lost on a lot of people. It’s the same thing as Rage Against The Machine or something like that where people only get the ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’ bit and forget there’s a reason they’re saying that.

RN: You guys did a song for the PETA Compilation, is that something you’ve always felt strongly about?
Jason: Yeah. Strangely enough none of us are vegetarian. Chris was vegan for a very long time and we’ve all read up about a lot of it and it’s one of those things where, especially living in a small college town like Gainesville, you can make a difference by buying more organic things and free-roam meat and eggs and stuff like that. When they asked us to do it, I think it’s a good cause. We’re not vegan or vegetarian, but it’s not a bad cause. We would do a Rehab benefits CD too, or Alcoholics Anonymous benefit even though we all do drink, I think it’s a good thing to support and inform people about.

RN: Were you pleased with it, coz I think it’s a very good comp?
Jason: Yeah, I think it’s super good, I’m really happy about it.

RN: Going back to those dreaded labels used by the media, you’ve been described as the pioneers of post-hardcore scene. What are your views on that?
Jason: That’s not a bad thing to say about us at all. It’s a very nice thing, and a very complimentary thing to say, but again we try to not to even really pay attention to what people call us, it’s just a way for people to try and convey an understanding of what kind of music we play.

RN: So you’re almost past caring, past the frustration?
Jason: We’re definitely past caring, we’re just going to keep playing and people can form their opinions after they hear the record or see the show or whatever.

RN: You see, I’ve always thought of you as being a sincere, honest, driving rock band…
Jason: Now that’s more like it…

RN: …instead of comparing you to someone else, but it happens.
Jason: Oh yeah, it does. You have to give people a reference point, but when people ask us what kind of music we play, we’re just a rock band. That’s really what all of it is, you know, it’s guitars and bass and drums. If you look at it in the broader scope of music, we’re not playing jazz, and we’re not playing bluegrass or anything like that, it’s our own little faction of rock. I do it when I describe bands to people that haven’t heard them, I’ll use another band as a reference or a label.

RN: Could you tell us a bit about who’s done all the artwork for your records?
Jason: He’s just our friend SINC, we’ve known him for a really long time. When we were putting together our first single comp, we’d never really released anything so we were like ‘how the hell do we do this?’ I don’t even know how it ended up, but somewhere in there he said ‘I’ve got some paintings lying around do you guys want to check them out?’ and we said yeah, totally and it just kinda stuck.

RN: Is some of his latest stuff, like the ‘Caution’ work, his actual response to the album?
Jason: Yeah, for the last few records we’ve sent him lyrics and demos ahead of time, said ‘here’s what we’ve got so far, check it out and go for it!’ He’s also a terrible procrastinator so sometimes he’s a bit frustrating, but he’s just a really good friend we’ve known for a long time, and we’d be unlucky not to get him to do the art for our stuff.

RN: That’s one thing I’ve always admired, creating album artwork in direct response to the music, coz too many people just rely on poseur photos and graphic design for the sake of graphic design.
Jason: Yeah, it’s the same thing with the guy who’s done our past couple of layouts. He’s a friend of ours too and he always wants all the lyrics and the artwork, and obviously taking our opinion into account too.

RN: What’s your stance on MP3s, that’s always a poignant question?
Jason: You know, I really see both sides of it, and it affects us so little that I don’t think it really matters. The way it’s affected us and the way it’s affected everyone is that record sales in general are going down the tubes for the most part. You have a couple…like Atreyu just had a breakout record, but it gets harder and harder to sell a lot of records.

RN: I can see it’s quite easy to put the blame on MP3s, but CD’s are just so fucking expensive these days, especially with all the chain stores artificially inflating the prices!
Jason: There’s no doubt about it, but Universal just cut all their prices in the states to $10.99 which is much more reasonable. Labels have to sell them for a certain amount of money to make back all the money that they spent on them and to hopefully make some profit also, but it’s a nasty chain of the band being the last person to get the money, coz everyone else gets paid first. The store gets paid first, then the distributor gets paid, then the label gets paid and then the band gets paid and everyone wants their cut and everyone’s knocking it up a dollar along the way. I’m definitely happy that it’s happening, coz labels are having to re-think the way they do things, and I think it will be good, coz hopefully, in the long run they will become less expensive and a little bit more reasonable about how much people can afford to spend on things.

RN: How did the split with the ‘Trio’ come about?
Jason: Jade Tree was looking to do a series of splits with bands they wanted to put out records for, but hadn’t managed to, so us and the ‘Trio’ were on tour together and Tim and Darren came out to one of the shows we were playing and just asked us, and we were like ‘Absolutely!’ We all love Jade Tree, we’re friends with each other, fans of the label and fans of each others bands so there’s a lot of fun, to get an opportunity to work together.

RN: Jason, in the ‘Caution’ sleeve you’ve got a Rival Schools T-‘Shirt on, do you know what they’re up to these days?
Jason: I have no fucking clue man! I know that Ian left the band and Chris Trainer from Helmet was playing guitar, and then I also heard they broke up a little bit after that, so I don’t know?

RN: But if you could have done a split with them?
Jason: Oh, I’d have loved to. I haven’t seen Walter in quite some time either, so I don’t really know, and we haven’t been up in New York, and in contact with them for years.

RN: What do you feel really passionately about at the minute?
Jason: Going home! Getting some rest! Pretty much the same as usual…The Band!

RN: And what whiles away the touring time?
Jason: Nothing!

RN: Nothing?
Jason: No! It’s funny coz Danny and I where just talking about this yesterday, how people think …not to talk down about how lucky we are, but it can be the most boring thing in the world, coz I’ve been here since one’ o’clock just counting T-Shirts, which is not fun!

RN: Ever since I started interviewing bands I’ve had my preconceptions that you really get to see the world on tour completely destroyed! Most bands come here for a day, they get to see London from the taxi and leave the next day!
Jason: Hey, we’re leaving tonight! It sounds as though we’re just travelling around, but at the same time we’ve been working on a lot of new songs on this trip, and everybody reads quite a bit and we’ve been watching a lot of Family Guy too in the hotel, but there’s a whole lot of just sitting there and looking at each other too.

RN: Most importantly, when’s the next Hot Water Music, headline UK tour then?
Jason: I do not know. Right now we’re going back to do the AFI shows, a short headline tour, we’re going to keep concentrating on writing, and hopefully get a record out by summer. We’re possibly coming over to do some shows in Germany in March, so I can at least see us popping over for a show or two since we’re going to be here, but then we’ll do that and it’ll end up as a 4 week tour coz we shoot ourselves in the foot too many times and god, we’re on the road again!

RN: So looking at all these bands that have been stolen recently, have the major labels come calling yet?
Jason: Not really! I’ve spoken to a couple of different people at a couple of different labels and I don’t think anyone thinks we’re at all interested, and right now we’re not. We’re happy with Epitaph and we most definitely want to try and step it up a level on the next record but it’s such a trade off, and we’re still on a contract to Epitaph for one more record, and I don’t see us doing anything different, unless someone brings us a boat load of cash. The other thing is that there’s so many labels signing so many bands right now, there’s going to be a big fall out again, like there was when Jawbreaker and Samiam and all those bands signed.

Words By Chris Lever

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