A decade ago Hot Water Music was just starting to crest over their local Gainesville, Florida emo-core scene. Even then, it was as clear to see that H W M was impressive not only because of their superb musicianship but, the band unearthed raw passion and brutal honesty.
Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard's vocals are unrefined in that Tom Waits kinda way. Their raspy vocals harmonize as they cry in sync just above the screaming fans at a recent Richmond, Virginia show. "Where did it all begin/ The skip in time or the spark of sin/ Where corrupted minds were let to stand with a head and a tongue intact/ All I ask is how we carry on."
All Heads Down, the new single from Hot Water Music's sixth full length, The New What Next, is greeted enthusiastically with shaking fists and red-faced fans that sing along at the top of their lungs.
People are hooked on the HWM sound- aggressive, intelligent and truthful. A sound they've owned for more than a decade. Before their national success and the support of their label Epitaph Records, inspired musicians looking to start a band proudly advertised, " In the same vein as HWM." Bassist Jason Black has a hard time conceiving the impact his band has had. "We're just a band, basically a rock band when you break it down; 2 guitars, electric bass, and drums," said Black.
HWM has a signature sound because they allow themselves to grow not only as musicians but, as people. Black feels it is unnaturally to become complacent with life or with music. "We always try to push ourselves forward musically when we begin writing a record. Hopefully, we kinda find something a little different than we've done before," said Black. He believes that HWM has had a natural progression. The band progresses musically as its members progress as people.
When it comes to music the band explores different generas. Drummer George Rebelo remembers being in jazz band where he learned the art of playing with brushes. In the beginning all he wanted to do was, "rock out." Rebelo discovered that drummers from Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck were able to drive the music with intensity while playing the basics: a snare, hi-hat and kick drum. These drummers played with passion and creativity that pushed the limitations on what a band can accomplish. The New What Next reflects the bands evolution by incorporating new sounds that are not bound to the emo-core nametag. In fact, the title, The New What Next, is the answer to what are those crazy HWM boys's up to now? Though, the band has a signature sound, HWM is able to change the mood of their albums without compromising the emotional essence that drives the band. For instance, the new track Ebb and Flow is a softer side of HWM. A straight-up rock number that maybe more delicate then what is expected of HWM. Yet, Ebb and Flow is consistent with the quality of the hardest HWM tune.
HWM has accomplished a lot over the last 10-years: six full-lengths, countless major tours and a tremendous fan base. With the release of The New What Next, HWM has proven they are not riding a wave of success but, they are the wave. They will be around to accomplish much more. "In another ten-years, we'll probably be on tour," said Black.
By Terry LeDon