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DS Interview: Jason Black on Hot Water Music’s new album, playing without Chris Wollard and more

Even by the standards of a band that has defined its near quarter-century career by charting its own course and never seeming to duplicate itself, it’s safe to mark Hot Water Music‘s 2017 as one of the band’s most atypical calendar years yet. The pioneering post-hardcore outfit wrote, recorded and released Light It Up, their eighth studio album, back on September 15th. The album is stellar, prompting even old school fans to note that it’s the band’s most inspired and cohesive project in recent memory. They also played a high-profile gig at Riot Fest in Chicago, a place that has shown enough love to the band over the years that its been something of an adopted second home (their live 2012 triple LP was recorded in the Windy City).

That said, the road has been a little bumpier of late. The iconic quartet’s lineup of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard on vocals and guitars, Jason Black on bass and George Rebelo on drums has remained constant — albeit interrupted by the occasional hiatus — since their beginning. Recently, however, they’ve had to play down a man; beginning at Fest last month in their hometown of Gainesville, Wollard has had to take a step back from performing live in order to take care of some self-reported anxiety and stress-related issues. Given the amount of moving parts (day jobs and spouses and babies and pets and so on) that need to line up for Hot Water Music to play live these days, the other three members — with Wollard’s blessing and encouragement — chose to fulfill their long-scheduled tour obligations, including a recent three-day run through Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia, and an upcoming date in Brazil.

And they are doing it with a little help from a few friends; The Flatliners’ Chris Cresswell filled in for Wollard at Fest on fairly short notice and played the three Northeast US shows, while Less Than Jake’s Chris DeMakes, a fellow Gainesvillian and longtime friend of the band, will cover the Brazil show (with any luck, Wollard will be back in fighting shape by the time the band’s January dates in California come around). Not only was Dying Scene on hand to shoot the band’s recent Boston date, but we were lucky enough to sit down with Jason Black back stage just moments before the show got under way. We talked about the lead up to recording Light It Up, looked back at some of the changes over the band’s two-plus decades in the business, and about adding the decade-and-a-half younger Cresswell to the mix; we also got cut off near the end by Ragan and Cresswell joining the conversation, the latter accompanied by a Les Paul and seeking clarification as to his part on the new Wollard-fronted Hot Water Music track “Vultures.” Head below to read our full interview!

Light It Up was released September 15th via Rise Records. Get yours here if you haven’t already.

 



DS Photo Gallery: Hot Water Music with Big Jesus and Bundles, Cambridge, MA

Hot Water Music made their long-awaited return to the Boston area last Friday night, playing to a packed house at the Sinclair in Cambridge that sold out long before the show actually took place. Touring in support of their most recent studio album, Light It Up (released September 15th via Rise Records), the genre-defining four-piece were playing down a man, with Chris Wollard sitting out this run of shows to focus on taking care of anxiety and stress-related issues. However, just like they did at Fest last month, they called on the help of a pretty well-respected friend to fill Wollard’s shoes. That, of course, was none other than Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell.

If Cresswell had the pre-game jutters that might be expected when filling in on the sold-out first night of a run with a highly influential band fifteen years his senior, he didn’t show them. The show’s twenty-one song setlist did steer more heavily toward the Chuck Ragan sung end of the catalog, and Ragan took over lead vocal duties on the new track, “Vultures,” but Cresswell did Wollard justice on such staples as “A Flight and A Crash,” “Paper Thin,” and, of course, “Trusty Chords.” Ragan, who sounded as solid and high-energy as he ever has, seemed on more than one occasion to look on in proud admiration at his new stage-left counterpart. For their part they rhythm section core of Jason Black (bass) and George Rebelo (drums) were a lock-tight gas pedal, which, while they’ve been playing together for the better part of a quarter-century, is not necessarily an easy task given that it was the first night of a brief three-day tour for a band that doesn’t live on the road nearly the way they did earlier in their respective careers. Rebelo’s recent turn behind the drumkit with Bouncing Souls has provided his playing with a little bit of an added, uptempo spark, which seems to play right into the nimble-fingered Black’s wheelhouse. It may not have been the traditional Hot Water Music lineup that has been so long-revered in this scene, but goddamn it still felt pretty special.

Big Jesus provided direct support on all three shows on this run. Trying to narrow down the sound of Big Jesus to one definable genre is a bit on the difficult side, but they’ve got a sludgy, swampy metal guitar attack that’s offset by bassist/vocalist Spencer Ussery’s airy, melodic vocals that have drawn comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins but are really more like Silversun Pickups-meets-Clutch. They were apparently “discovered” and subsequently managed by the Madden brothers, though you’d honestly never guess that from their sound or their look. 

Local three-piece Bundles, who’ve become increasingly beloved around these parts, were added to the bill to kick off the show only about a week or so ago, after it was announced that Strike Anywhere wouldn’t be on this particular date. We’ve caught the trio on longer bills at various smaller bars in Boston, so to get the chance to see them on the larger stage (editor’s note: we’re pretty sure O’Brien’s in Allston would fit on the stage at Sinclair, but we digress) was a bit of a proud moment that the band seemed to revel in. There’s is an updated, stripped down version of the sound pioneered by bands like Hot Water Music twenty-five years ago, but with lyrics that draw as much inspiration from classic literature as they do from personal pain and struggle. Fun opportunity for the band and it was awesome to see them as being up to the task.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and stay tuned for our sit-down with Hot Water Music’s Jason Black in the next few days!



Hot Water Music’s Chris Wollard is taking a break

It’s not often I hear news about Hot Water Music that makes me sad, but this does. Chris Wollard is taking a break from the band for his own health. His statement is long and heartfelt, and you can read it in its entirety below.

Hot Water Music will continue their tour with The Flatliners‘ Chris Cresswell filling in for Wollard in Boston, Brooklyn and Philly from November 17-19 and Chris DeMakes of Less Than Jake handling Wollard duties in Brazil on December 2nd. The band are touring in support of their latest full-length, “Light It Up” which is their first album in 5 years. It was released on September 15th via Rise Records.



Album Review: Question Tuesday – “We Don’t Want What You’re Selling”

Anyone who knows me knows my taste follows the orbit laid out by Hot Water Music, Leatherface, and other aggro-melodic sad sack punk planets. I like some gravel, I like some distortion. I like post-hardcore when it goes full circle from breaking down the blank verse of hardcore and taking it to the rhymes and meter of traditional songwriting. Catchy, loud, powerful– that’s what I’m into. Question Tuesday are a satellite on a similar trajectory. Local to Portland, OR, worshiping at the altar of Leatherface, with an EP called We Don’t Want What You’re Selling.

Their sound is heavy riffs, beat-to-shit skins, trilling leads, and broken glass vocals. They run the line between shouted urgency and full throated singalongs. Six songs of punk rock that hearkens back to an era of growth, post revolution summer, as emocore and post-hardcore grew and adapted from their early scenes into the stuff that filled the rosters of No Idea Records before the turn of the millenia.

“Bring It Down” opens the EP with a riff that alternates between chugged power chords and the aforementioned trilling leads, punctuated with a charged vocal attack. “Black & Blue” features a busy guitar line beneath its verse that shows Question Tuesday playing with the basics of punk songwriting by not relying entirely on chord progressions to drive their songs. In fact, one of things I like the most about We Don’t Want What You’re Selling is that their leads are prominent as in the style of the genre, but never as an impersonation of it. Hot Water Music and Leatherface both have a pretty unique sound to their approach of lead guitar, but Question Tuesday takes their own way rather than copying what the other guys are known for. Their sound is a bit more straight rock ‘n roll, more rooted in melody, different enough to carve out their own identity.

There’s even some shades of 90s Epitaph here, with “Writing on the Walls’” frenetic double-time drumming near the middle of the song. The EP ends with “See a Glow,” which has a sort of dreamy pace, even with its thick guitar distortion. It contains some confessional lyricism like, “It’s alright to fall to pieces,” but the track isn’t as dynamic as I’d like and it’s run time is felt more than it should be.

We Don’t Want What You’re Selling is a strong release from a young band. Minor missteps are easy to forgive in a six-song EP, especially in one that so earnestly walks in the shoes of a sound out-of-vogue. Question Tuesday aren’t really reinventing anything here, but they aren’t stagnating it either– just using it as a springboard for self-expression. It’s where we all start, and for fans of the style, it’ll be interesting to see where Question Tuesday goes.

 

3.5/5



Lost Love and Empty Lungs touring UK and EU in November

Canada’s Lost Love and Northern Ireland’s Empty Lungs will be touring through the UK and EU together throughout November and into the wee early days of December. You can find the tour dates for the pair of indie-punks below.



Hot Water Music release video for new song “Complicated”

Hot Water Music have released a video for new song “Complicated.” Give it a watch below.

Bassist Jason Black had this to say about the lyrical content on the song:

“The basic gist of the lyrics is that, civilized/Western/first world cultures are destroying the planet; even those of us with the best intentions can’t make the difference we’d like, because life and the circumstances surrounding [us] are complicated.”

The song is taken from their upcoming album “Light It Up” which is their first album in 5 years. It due to be released on September 15th via Rise Records.



Hot Water Music release video for new track “Vultures”

Hot Water Music have released a video for new song “Vultures.” The track is off their upcoming album, “Light It Up,” released on September 15th via Rise Records. The video follow’s May’s “Never Going Back“.

You can watch the video, featuring fan footage that spans the band’s whole career, below.



Hot Water Music premiere video for new song “Never Going Back”

 

So I may have squealed a little when I saw this news. Hot Water Music have premiered a video for their newest song “Never Going Back.” The song is off their upcoming album, “Light It Up,” which is due to be released on September 15th via Rise Records.

Do yourself a favor and check out the video below.

Okay, you know how I said before if you watch only one video today, it should be the The Homeless Gospel Choir’s “Normal?” I lied to you. I’m so sorry. You should definitely watch this one too. Can we still be friends?



Lost Love release video for “Here’s 15 Cents, Now We’re Even”

Montreal’s Lost Love have released a new video for “Here’s 15 Cents, Now We’re Even”. The track is taken from their current full length, “Comfortable Scars”, out on Stomp Records. The album came out back in April of last year.

You can watch the video below.



Music Video: Lost Love – “Here’s 15 Cents, Now We’re Even”

Montreal punks Lost Love have premiered a music video for their track “Here’s 15 Cents, Now We’re Even.” You can give it a watch below.

The track comes from the band’s latest album, titled “Comfortable Scars,” which dropped on April 22, 2016.



Head Wound City releases music video for “Born To Burn”

Head Wound City has put out a video for their song “Born To Burn” off of “A New Wave Of Violence.” You can check the lo-fi video along with tour dates below.

Head Wound City last released “A New Wave Of Violence” in May.



Hot Water Music begin writing new music

Hot Water Music‘s Chuck Ragan recently posted a picture on Instagram with the caption that he and bandmate Chris Wollard are currently writing new material for what appears to be the band’s next album, which will be their first since 2012’s Exister.

We’ll keep you posted as more details on the new album come to light. Hot Water Music last released the vinyl box set, 20th Anniversary Collection, a year ago.



Lost Love announce US tour dates

Montreal punks Lost Love have announced a big ol’ US tour that will take them all across the country over the next two months.

Check out all the dates and locations below.

Lost Love last released Comfortable Scars on April 22nd via legendary ska label Stomp Records and Boston punk label Ocelot Records.



Lost Love releases new video, embarks on European tour with Water Mane

Montreal punks Lost Love has a new video out for the song “Scotch n’ Soda,” and you can check it out below, along with the band’s upcoming tour dates.

Lost Love released the album Comfortable Scars back in April as a joint venture with legendary ska label Stomp Records and Boston punk label Ocelot Records. The band released this video today to celebrate the success of their recent 4-week Canadian tour, and to see them off to 3 weeks in Europe with Montpellier punks Water Mane.  Lost Love will also be heading to the U.S. in late June.  

Comfortable Scars was released on April 22nd, and serves as a follow-up to their 2014 album Sparkles. 



EXPOSÉ: Road to Pouzza Fest VI series Part 6 featuring: Lost Love

The final instalment of the  EXPOSÉ: Road to Pouzza Fest VI series features Montreal punk rockers Lost Love. These guys are the embodiment of the modern punk sound and the direction it is headed in. For fans of Iron Chic and Latterman, this band has the chords, the gang vocals, and the riffs to make you feel good and happy. Watch them as they play “Just Because I Rock Doesn’t Mean I’m Made of Stone”, a song from their latest album Comfortable Scars. 

You can watch the whole thing below.

A big thank you to Minus2 Digital Media and Raw Cut Media for working with us on this fantastic web series. Hope to see some of you out to this year’s Pouzza Fest, which takes place all over Montreal from May 20th-22nd.

Comfortable Scars was released on April 22nd, 2016 through Stomp Records and serves as a follow-up to their 2014 album Sparkles.