Hot Hot Heat
From the frenzied hooks of Goddess On The Prairie , the pulsating grime of YVR and the experimental grandiosity of Times A Thousand to the vigorous Implosionatic and the psychedelic Americana of 21@12 , Hot Hot Heat’s fourth album, Future Breeds , takes the band’s off-kilter dance floor-filling arsenal of new wave/post-punk anthems to thrilling and confounding heights. Formed just over a decade ago, the Vancouver-based quartet’s desire to create intoxicating yet complex ‘heavy-party music’ has only become more evident on their latest record. “Our music has always been a bit more cerebral, I think, than your average disco/dance type of stuff,” guitarist Luke Paquin muses, “so it’s kind of a challenge for us to bridge the gap between party music and something that’s a bit more progressive and challenging to us as musicians. I think with this album, we’ve really found a good mix between the two.”
And of course, Hot Hot Heat have always been about making it fun, as fans have appreciated since their 2002 debut album, Make Up The Breakdown . “It’s okay to want to rock, you know,” says Paquin in his ever-so-chilled manner. “I think there’s something real about the indie rock movement of the 2000s. People have gotten a little bit ashamed and they’re almost embarrassed in a way to say they want to rock and I think people are realising that that’s okay. And it doesn’t have to be dumb – you can still be an intelligent, thoughtful group and still smash things up at the same time.”
For their tour of Future Breeds, Hot Hot Heat have recruited a new bassist in Louis Hearn. “We’ve had a couple of years between all our albums, but it seems like the whole world changes in that time,” Paquin chuckles. “It’s been good. We’ve done a lot of the smaller towns in Canada and all sorts of places that we’ve never been before, so that’s been quite exciting.”
Although Times A Thousand is frontman Steve Bays’ favourite Hot Hot Heat song, it hasn’t guaranteed its place in each set list. “We were actually doing Times A Thousand as an opener when we first debuted the songs,” says Paquin, “and now we’re not even playing it. It kinda changes from show to show. Goddess On The Prairie is the single that’s currently being played on the radio in Canada and the US at the moment, so that one always gets the best reaction just because it’s the one that people have heard.”
Hot Hot Heat have always been praised for their feverish live shows, but Paquin asserts that performing with Modest Mouse and Queens Of The Stones Age at the 2008 V Festival – on their last Australian tour – was “quite a challenge”: “I think Queens Of The Stone Age are probably the best live rock ‘n’ roll band around today that I’ve seen.”
They’ve since acquired bonds with the frontmen of the aforementioned bands with both Josh Homme and Isaac Brock offering to produce their latest album. “Two years ago, Slash told me he was a fan, so that was pretty cool,” Paquin adds with a laugh. “But I’ve never gotten to jam with him – maybe that’s the next step... someday.”
Fellow Canadians Hey Rosetta! were a somewhat surprising but excellent support act for Hot Hot Heat during their August/September tour dates in the US. “Luckily they’re all very sweet Canadian people,” says Paquin, “and they’re actually quite big in Canada at the moment, so the fact that they even agreed to do an opening tour when they could very well have done their own headlining tour just shows what good people they are. The fact is [that] their music is high energy and you can dance to it, so it seems to have worked out okay. At first I was very concerned that it’d be too different musically for the fans, but I think our fans have taken to them and hopefully their fans will tolerate us.”
Melbourne fans will be afforded the chance of seeing Hot Hot Heat at the Falls Festival as well as The Corner Hotel. “We always look forward to Australia... it’s usually the highlight of the tour for us,” Paquin asserts. “And the fans over there seem to be really appreciative of bands coming from across the world to visit. If it’s anywhere near as good as it’s been in the past tours, it should be a wonderful time for everyone.”
Having set up their own studio for Future Breeds at Tugboat Place in the lower east side of Vancouver, Hot Hot Heat approached their fourth album with a more liberated and challenging mind-frame. “I think being on a new record label and having our own recording studio just kind of re-energised all of us,” Paquin affirms. “It just made us excited... not that we had lost our enthusiasm for the band, but every once in a while you need something like that to kind of recharge your battery. I think it definitely shows on the album and it’s definitely our most energetic and loud and rocking album ever, so I think a lot of that had to do with those changes that happened in our lives as we were writing the new songs.”
Implosionatic ’s subject matter was triggered by Bays’ witnessing of a frightening scenario in which a man spent hours threatening to jump from the roof of a building. “Thankfully, he didn’t jump,” Paquin assures. “Steve was in the studio and he actually looked out the window at the office building across the street and actually saw somebody up there. And it turned into a big fiasco. I think he’s just starting to write about stuff that he sees rather than stuff that happens to him.
“Our studio is in an interesting neighbourhood, “Paquin adds, “and I think a lot of the characters that we met in the last couple of years, Steve would just pull out his little notepad and write a story about what he thinks that person’s life is about, even if it’s completely fabricated... it’s still an interesting way if you can go outside of your own head a little bit.
“You can only write so many songs about, y’know, your girlfriend or partying or whatever it is that rock bands sing about,” he laughs, “so I feel like the subject matter is a little bit broader, which is a refreshing change for me, at least.”
HOT HOT HEAT play the FALLS FESTIVAL in Lorne over December 28 – January 1, alongside a massive array of talent including Interpol, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The National, Public Enemy, Cold War Kids, Marina And The Diamonds, The Living End and heaps more. They also play The Corner Hotel on Monday January 3 – with Papa VS Pretty and Phantoms. Tickets from The Corner box office, 9427 9198 or cornerhotel.com. HOT HOT HEAT’s excellent new album Future Breeds is out now through Shock.