On a stage somewhere, an anonymous kid gathers the mic' cord in one hand as his band works through twisted dynamics filled with angular guitars and throttling rhythms. The singer opens his mouth and emits a snarl that'll set both punk and metal fans' ears on edge. It's post-hardcore at its most basic level. But wait ... he's singing about his girlfriend.
"That's the down side for punk getting so big and remaining so big," bemoaned Hot Water Music bassist Jason Black. "You get a little more lowest common denominator, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they're usually a guilty pleasure band, at least for me."
Black and the rest of his Gainesville, Fla., based act (guitarist/singers Chuck Regan and Chris Wollard, and drummer George Rebelo) aren't going to buckle to the pressures of success in the mainstream. The act's latest effort, Caution (2002, Epitaph) (read Aversion's review), is anything but the sort of post-hardcore/pop hybrid that's lit up the hopes and ears of fringe-mainstream audiences almost as fast as it's troubled longtime fans of the underground. Full of churning, metallic instrumentation and themes that stay true to the outsider-rebel themes of its hardcore roots, Hot Water Music's latest isn't going to file down its fangs just because many of its compatriots have earned nods from the mainstream.
Of course, the act's used to flying beneath the radar. It's been a staple in the underground --and nearly virtually unknown outside of punk circles -- for almost a decade. Anonymity is nothing new for Hot Water Music. Sure, it's done its time on the Warped Tour and with an opening slot on a major Bad Religion and Less Than Jake co-headlining tour, but, really, are the kids knocking down HWM's door? No way, Jose.
"It's not the most easily accessible thing in the world," Black admitted. "For example, we would not have gone on the Bad Religion/Less Than Jake tour if had just been Less Than Jake. If you're going to see ska-punk you're probably not going to want to see us too awful much. At the same time, that's not necessarily the best attitude to have, because there will be a few people that will enjoy it. You have to hedge your bets as far as that goes. There were days on the Warped Tour where the whole crowd was just staring at us. Like 'What is wrong with these guys?' Don't worry about it. We'll be done in a half hour."
With a crop of new bands copping the style that HWM helped to create, the act, which was once seen just as some strange Florida outfit with a funky style, has become elder statesmen of the post-hardcore scene.
"It's definitely cooler than being the new band and knowing it's only going to last for a year," Black laughs. "I'd rather be on our end than that end. At the same time, most of the new bands move about five times as fast as us already. There's a little bit of 'Huh. How'd that happen?' I'd rather keep a little bit of a low profile. Longevity is the key for us instead of being a flash in the pan."
href='http://www.aversion.com' target='_blank'>Visit Aversion.com