Flagpole.com takes a look at Hot Water Music

Hot Water Music Plays Cool Punk

"Any time you get anywhere in punk, you get shit," declares Hot Water Music bassist Jason Black, referring to the backlash created by the band inking a deal with Epitaph last year.

Unfortunately, Black speaks the truth. It seems that whenever a good punk band signs with a major label, cries of "sell out" surface and the band's future albums will be viewed much more critically. Back in the early '90s, Green Day went through these trials and tribulations just as up-and-coming punk-influenced acts Thursday and Thrice are experiencing the criticism now.

But the members of Hot Water Music - completed by Chuck Ragan (vocals, guitar), Chris Wollard (vocals, guitar) and George Rebelo (drums) - realize that they can't get too hung up on the commentary.

Says Ragan, "If you're comfortable with what you're doing, and you're having a good time and you're happy and you're all right in your heart and your head, then nothing matters what anyone says. Positive or negative. It has no (Photo by Chrissy Piper)
effect, you know what I mean?"

That's not to say that Hot Water immediately accepted Epitaph's offer with open arms. There was some skepticism, some deliberation and some warning that backlash was going to be inevitable. Eventually, the foursome agreed that it would be a beneficial move.

"We were all kind of weird about it when [Epitaph] first approached us. We were like, No way in hell," recalls Black. "And then talking to them, getting to know everybody, [we discovered] it's real easy for us to relate to everyone there as far as listening to music and stuff. Like every time I call Jeff, he's either like listening to Yes or Genesis or some shit like that. I mean, I don't listen to them, but I'm like cool, if a guy at Epitaph listens to Genesis man, then we're okay. Because if he listened to fucking Millencolin all day long, [he'd be like] I don't know what the fuck your record's all about."

How Water's brand new record Caution, which drops October 8, is more about melody and substance than warp-speed drum beats and three-chord songs. Not that these guys ever subscribed to that formula, it's just that others in the punk scene seem to have that pattern down cold, which is what also differentiates Hot Water from everyone else around. The vocals are gruff (a trademark) and the guitar riffs aggressive but catchy; all supported by well-maneuvered bass lines and fresh drumming. It's a solid follow-up to the band's 2001 Epitaph debut A Flight And A Crash.

Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Hot Water constantly receives accolades as being the best punk rock band around. This title arises from the band's unwavering work ethic, love for its fans and the tremendous quality of its music. Since 1994, Hot Water has been a workhorse both on the road and in the studio, and this tireless effort has garnered the band an incredibly loyal fanbase that appreciates the band for both its music and its personality.

No cocky rock star attitudes, no pretenses about hanging out with fans and no dishonorable reasons for playing music (i.e. money). The guys joked about the rules on the R.V. (including "no poo" as rule number one), talked about having played with almost every band they've ever dreamed of and showed genuine excitement when recalling seeing one of the guys in Bad Religion wearing a Hot Water sweatshirt at a show during the bands' tour together last spring.

"We don't take any of this for granted. We've accomplished more than any of us ever thought we'd ever dream in this band," says Ragan. "We appreciate every ounce of energy that we get back from people that come to see the shows. We don't take it for granted. Anything else that comes is just a blessing and an honor."

Leah Weinberg

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