By Christina White
The relationship I have with Hot Water Music as a whole and individually is much like the relationship I have with my brothers; teasing, fighting, laughing, mutual admiration, and trust. My love for this band makes it almost impossible for me to be unbiased while writing this article as it is so very easy for me to see the genius and beauty in their creation. As a journalist I will do my best to convey the story as it is, but my enthusiasm is such I fear that it will come through, but fear not for I believe it is genuine in nature and to be true and warranted. That disclaimer aside, let the 'total gayness' begin. I would find it difficult to discuss another group of men I have met in my life as honest and loving and true to their being as the four men in Hot Water Music. The are the kind of people you meet in your life, if you are so lucky, who make you want to be the best person you can, or as Chris Wollard always says, "be yourself to the point of embarrassment or what is the fucking point!" In their 10th year as a band they find themselves for their third session at Salad Days studio in Beltsville Maryland with Producer Brian McTernan, comfortably south of the Mason-Dixon. Salad Days is set back from the road behind Brian's house, between the house and the studio is a small patio where the guys spend most of their time when they are not needed in the studio. A small rusting table and three chairs along with various outdoor accruements is their environment. Multiple ashtrays, empty beer cans, glasses with last nights sangria, and cell phones crowd the table at all times. While the band was at Salad Days the cicadas came to visit. They hatch every 17 years and it was biblical, everywhere these flying hard backed insects. Chris learned that if you hit them they scream- as it is this became a favorite past time. There was never a shortage of laughing in the studio this time around for HWM; they stated on more than one occasion that this was by far the easiest record they had ever made.
Chuck: Pre-production was awesome, it was just the 5 of us and we were just trashing the songs, just left and right trimming fat, moving stuff around, throwing stuff away and it was insane, but at the end of the day or the next morning we were like, "what did we do, what did we write, what's the name of that song, what am I playing?" It completely changed, then you learn how to play it, then you really learn how to play it, then you let yourself go and just do it!
Jason: This record is my most proud moment; somehow I lucked out and got to write a lot of the fucking music on this one. We all write music, but a lot of the riffs I wrote turned into songs and it's cool. I'm stoked, 'cause it's totally different than anything else we've done and I didn't know if it was going to work, but this totally fucking did for some reason.
AMP: You told me this record is going to be "sick" and the kids are going to fucking hate you for it.
George: That's a good sign.
Jason: Yeah. The kids might hate us. The people should like it.
(George breaks into FUCK THE KIDS FUCK THE KIDS)
George: I figured out where a triplet fits into the measure. We have a song that is kinda U2-ie. Brian and I were working together with it and, this isn't interesting to anyone but me, but in my head it clicked in and all the sudden I got a whole other perspective on playing (kinda like solving the rubics cube?) Ahhhh man, I got so much other shit now. This record sounds like a good combination of Fuel for the Hate Game meets Caution. It's good. It's the song writing of Caution with the fuckin' angst of Fuel for the Hate Game.
Jason: I still think its way harder than either one of those records.
George: It's more riffage- not as singer/songwriter as Caution was.
Jason: It just not 12 mid-tempo rock songs, as far as the vibe and the tempos, it's all over the place.
George: Which was a conscious thing, we tried to do that, like when you would write a riff we'd say, we have a song like that already and then we'd kinda fuck with it. It's the first record where none of us argued in practice.
George: We were like, "ok this is the part how are we going to make it happen" and everybody trusted everybody else's perspective on it. Only one, two arguments maybe.
Jason:Who ever came up with the bass riff- no problem I'll play it, and if I came up with a riff and showed it to Wollard he was like, "no problem man I'll play it." A couple of the songs Chuck wrote, he just wrote 'em, emailed 'em to us and we were like 'cool' and we just played 'em.
George: It was really easy. Just like this recording process has been easy, the same, it's weird. I'm waiting for something to happen, waiting for the worst and it's not. The worst thing that has happened is the fuse. Big deal they gotta go down the street and hunt down a fuse. Big deal.
Jason: It's not just another record, it's not like another chapter in the book; it's like a whole new fuckin' book. New volume, like that old shit is gone and it's cool and we still dig it. We're still gonna play it and whatever, but it's kinda like Anchors for the (Bouncing) Souls. This is a new deal now. There is stuff we're never gonna write again cos we've found an entirely different area of music in which we can play now, which is fuckin' cool.
Chuck: It's been so fucking awesome, each one of us has been totally willing to like move their part around or adjust it for the well being of the song, rather than like "NO my part!" Let's just make it work.
Jason: This is the first record by us that if I heard it and I didn't know it was us I'd go buy.
George: For me I guess the most satisfying thing is what we were talking about. There is no argument, there is no ego. Everybody is focused and wants the same thing, a good record. Which means good songs and not all of them sound the same. There's different feels, different set ups to it, different atmosphere. It's a complete thought from start to finish. You know... you go through all sorts of ya know...I've had some sangria but you know.. You go through every bit of emotion that you would go through. Fuckin angst, pissed off fuckin' straight forward fuckin' like confusing quiet so many dynamics and diverse. It sounds amazing.
Chris: And were still layering hahahahaha.. (evil laugh)
George: Yeah man it sounds great, I can't wait till we auto-tune those guitars and then we make it sound better! (This is a joke kids!)
Chris: I can't wait till we put in those drum loops that we were writing for it.
George: It's gonna be so good! When we get some real musicians in here it's gonna sound GREAT!
Brian: Yeah we'll get Matt Squire in here to reply all of George's drums.
George: I hate you Brian McTernan, I'm getting on friendster and I'm talking shit about you tonight!
Jason: By the time you typed a sentence you'd pass out!
Chuck: This is the most relaxed I've ever been in the studio. It's just been nice to come so prepared for one. We've never been so prepared. We still have a lot of work to do but for the most part the structure was there and a huge aspect is that we've worked with Brian twice now.. We know each other's ins and outs, we've tested the limits, we've been at each others throats already.. We know what buttons are there to push if we need to, or not. That makes a huge deal with coming and doing any kind of project this intense. What we do here is so important. When we are done here and it's laid down on tape in stone, that will define our time here right now. That's why you gotta do it right, it's that important. Totally the coolest experience I've ever had in the studio.
AMP: Tell me about Brian
Chuck: First time I met Brian was in Rhode Island at a festival that we played. We drove from Gainesville up to Rhode Island to play this festival that, besides the bands, I think there was maybe 15 people! It was pretty amazing, we met up with some friends from Gainesville up there and Brian's band Ashes played, I had some of their 7"s I was a fan, I loved the band. Brian says he was kinda freaked out and scared of us back then, he says we were kinda wild! We were wild that day, we were on vacation, it was hot and we felt like drinkin whiskey and breaking windows. That was what we had to do that day. When we got tired of playing kickball in the parking lot we started breaking windows and that made all the sense in the world! I never really truly got to know him until that first session we did with him for Flight which was hard in all kinds of ways. Right away he and George, and you know George is the first thing that goes down, that's our boy, our foundation, the structure that we have to build on and if that's not solid then we are in trouble. Right away George and Brian were toe to toe and it was not pretty. George could not stand Brian. When it comes down to it, that Flight session, I don't think Brian McTernan was ready for Hot Water Music and I don't think we were ready for him, ya know?
George: Shit I don't know where to begin...I spent about seven years making albums and everyone told me I was great and Brian, first album when we came in and all he did was point our my bad qualities when nobody else had the balls to do it. So he rubbed me wrong right away cos most people were just suckin' my dick. He was the first guy who didn't say, "oh that's great!" He told me "that sucks." He is not attached to individual parts, he's attached to the over all sound of the song and he makes me aware of that.
Chuck: I have so much respect for Brian. He's got an incredible ear and great ideas. He nails it. There is not a lot that he does that I don't like. I just wasn't use to it and I wasn't expecting it. After awhile of getting to know him as a producer and an engineer as someone who knows his shit and knows his tools better than anyone we've ever worked with is he's just got this ability and for some reason it just works great with us. He just really pushes us. He helps us find...he has an outside perspective that normally we wouldn't have found or figured out. It's made us better players, it's brought us closer as a band and it's helped us evolve in so many ways as musicians and as a band.
George: Even if he doesn't have the answer he will still point it out. I think he has a great ear and is an amazing talent. This has been the easiest record we've ever made and when we were doing drums everyone just kinda stayed away and Brian and I worked it out. My whole attitude about it is setting up, making an atmosphere happen for a verse then setting it up to drop the bomb. And Brian knows this. It's nice to have someone who actually gives a shit; it makes us play it better. Given the ease of recording in general the snags and hurdles they did have to overcome seemed more assets than liabilities. One night like any other night in Beltsville on the verge of a summer thunderstorm Brian comes busting out of the studio onto the patio, where I sat with Jason and George discussing their beginnings, and exclaimed loudly "Wollard is a rock monster!" Chris, quick on Brian's heels comes charging through the studio door growling at the top of his lungs, "I AM A ROCK MONSTER!" Earlier that day Chris had been having trouble getting his amp to withstand the rock monsterness of his riffage, blowing fuses repeatedly. He and Brian had gone on a field trip to DC to search for fuses, special fuses for a special amp- the mighty Harry Joyce, and they came back with two. Wollard expressed not only excitement but frustration over the situation, "man I've got one fuse left and one minute worth of song left to play! We made it through the bridge and everything, then it died right at the end of the bridge, and we were like FUCK! I have to finish the song or we have to start all over, and it's got a perfect delay sound." (Making sure we understand the gravity of the situation.) The next day the song is finished, after hearing the unique guitar tone and the true monstrosity of the song itself, it brought home the frustration Brian and Chris had been dealing with. If that last fuse would have blown the entire song would have needed to be re-tracked, bummer...but they did it!! Hot Water's rhythm section has been hailed as the tightest in punk rock, George and Jason share a single brain on stage (and off stage too it seems from listening to them talk.) These two guys have been friends for over 15 years. They are the glue that keeps this band together. Much like an old married couple they interrupt each other and finish each other's sentences, trying to dissect the conversation was almost impossible so I'll let you do it for yourself...
AMP: How did they come together how did they become Friends?
Jason: I remember in high school we hated each other cos he was a metal head and I was straightedge.
George: Till we started sleeping at each other's houses cos we were making out with the same chicks. You were confused, you didn't know if wanted green hair or long hair.
Jason: I just wanted boobs!
So things haven't changed much?
Jason: No we're pretty much exactly like were have been for the past 15 years! That's pretty much it. We were in jazz band together and he was good and I was good and we liked each other.
What Music did you bond over?
George: John Coltrane.
Jason: Yeah, jazz pretty much.
George: Until I figured out that he liked metal
Jason: I was a recovering metal head, 9th grade was metal year for me, and he met me in 10th.
George: Jason was the first guy who introduced me to Fugazi.
Jason: I showed George punk rock that wasn't fuckin' Minor Threat or the Misfits.
George: I personally hated all that shit, I liked Dag Nasty and I toured with Brian Baker, probably half way through that Bad Religion tour was the first time I went up to Brian Baker and I was like, 'I'm gonna suck your dick once and that's it! You were the only one I thought was any good at punk rock!' I was a nerd, listening in headphones analyzing air drums.
Jason: Stereo pan guitar solos!
George: I was a nerd about music and I couldn't understand what the hoopla was about punk rock, cos I never paid attention to lyrics and it's too easy for me. I didn't really care, like most people when they first start playing punk rock it's cos they are really politically driven or the other side is 'oh I can play that right now' and they start to learn the guitar parts. Fugazi was the first band Jason showed me where I was like wow this doesn't suck, musically it's pretty good. Jason said well check out Minor Threat then, same dudes' man! I was like this is bad, this is bad, good movement whatever!
Jason: He just BIG DEALED Minor Threat! Intense!
George: I can't help it. Whatever big deal. Dag Nasty great guitar player, I knew Brian Baker had a little nerd in him.
Jason: Or a lot of nerd in him!
George: And raw talent, but if I threw a millidium mode fuckin' whatever yada yada scale at him, he'd know what the fuck I'm doin' cos he is a nerd.
Jason: Yeah he is a nerd.
AMP: Tell me about your first instruments and how you knew you wanted to play.
George: Since I was I was 5 I wanted to play drums. I got a little Muppet drum set on my birthday and it had paper heads on it and I played it for about 20 minutes and broke it and I was hooked and nothing has changed since. I asked for a drum set on every Christmas and every birthday for the next 7 or 8 years and I was the kid that if I asked for something I got it. I would use it for about 10 minutes and then it would sit in my closet and collect dust. My parents didn't buy me a thousand dollar drum set right away figuring it would just collect dust and they didn't want to hear it all day long even if I did like it. After 7 or 8 years of convincing my parents they were like, "you're just not going to stop asking about drum sets" so they bought me one.
Would you make drum sets out of other things?
George: My grandmother actually made drum sets for me, she would take coat hangers with the cardboard cylinders and break those off for the drumsticks, with boxes and buckets. A bucket for the snare and a box kick drum, no pedal, just there for visual purposes. So I pretended like I had one and then other boxes placed like a drum kit and then she would tack up shoestrings from the ceiling and hang lids from pots and pans for the cymbals so I would sit there all day long. I can imagine it was so fucking annoying but I would sit there all day long, some kid bashing away on pots and pans and boxes and buckets and shit.
Was grandma hard of hearing?
George: Grandma was one of the most loving people you've ever met. Jason's first instruments were strings in the orchestra. He says "fat cables, I played the upright bass for like a year. My Dad use to play the drums till I was like 6 when we moved to Florida so I would go down in the basement and watch him jam out all the time. Then in middle school we had a rotating art class and orchestra was one of them. I just picked bass cos nobody else wanted to play it. I think I was like 8th grade when I was reading the liner notes to Poison's "Look What The Cat Dragged In" and it said 'Bobby Dahl- Bass' and I was like fuck I play bass! Then I finally discovered what that third guitar in all those metal bands was and I was like OH COOL I can play that! So my grandma bought me a bass and that was that." Big props to the grandmothers of Hot Water Music!! Jason continues, "Poison is the reason I play bass!" Jason and George started playing together in bands when they were about 15 and George says, "Basically he was in every one of my metal bands and I was in every one of his punk rock bands." So if there is any question as to why the rhythm section of Hot Water Music is so tight go back to high school become friends with a bass player if you are a drummer and play together almost every day for 15 years then see where you're at. Jason says, "We don't function very well playing with other people." George said it really came down to, "oh you're cool, you like boobs? Yeah? Cool, let's hang." Jason and George were in a couple bands kickin' around Sarasota for a couple years, ranging from Fishbone sounding bands that would have fast verse then break down into Coltrane sounding randomly. Fossil with Chuck and George, George wrote everything... Jason says, "we met Chuck, he was working at the Subway next to the frozen yogurt place George and I worked at so we would trade yogurt for sandwiches. Chuck loved strawberry vanilla milkshakes. George says, "I would make him a huge strawberry vanilla milkshake and he would make me a Philly cheese steak!" Jason says, "We were such bad little kids!"
George: Then both of us would steal from the register and go up to this music store called Boogie Woogies and buy used CDs.
Jason: Work at the yogurt shop, take money, and just go buy CDs!
George: Like full on just rob this place.. like figured out a way where if I don't ring it up they don't know it came through the register! Alright! That'll be two dollars please!
Jason: We had those days where we rung in $35.00 to the yogurt shop for a six hour shift or somethin' but it was really busy!
AMP: How did you meet Wollard?
Jason: Wollard, was an interesting character...I started playing with this guy in Gainesville who was from Sarasota when I was going to college and he was from the... kinda like the good straightedge hardcore band from Sarasota and me and him were jammin in Gainesville for a little while my freshman year of college. It was like getting more along the lines of what I wanted to play finally and I was like, 'alright cool this guy's is kinda into the same stuff I'm into.' We both went back to Sarasota for the summer and he knew Wollard, and I had known Wollard a little bit from my friend Dave who sang for that band Assuck for a little while. Him and Wollard were bros from the straightedge scene. Wollard use to be this vicious straightedge kid who actually, like, enacted violence upon drunks and stuff like that. The bass player for Fossil was out of town for the summer so I was fillin' in with George and Chuck again and then me and George and Zach were playing a little bit and Zach was like, 'I know this guy Chris I've been trying to start a band with for long time, let's give him a call.' So that was the beginning of the end of that part of my life.
George: Yeah Jason fuckin' brings me to practice with him for the first time and I see this fuckin' guy with a beard down to his chest and, like, shaved head. (Argument over Wollard's hair ensues. They agree that Wollard had long hair for their first couple shows and George concedes.) I just remember seeing him and going, 'you gotta be kidding me I'm going to be in a band with this guy?!?!' Oh this sucks! Who is this guy?? He was really quiet and straightedge and fuckin' like vegan. He was really quiet and it kinda freaked me out, but then we started playing and I was like eh, he can play!
Jason: Who's the bookworm over in the corner? And he was straightedge, kind of. When we started playing he had started sneaking the occasional beer. And when he started singing I thought 'wow he can sing!'
Chuck: It was one of those things where the first time you met 'em you couldn't stand 'em but then later they end of being one of your best friends, those become your life long friends and that's what it was. With Jason and George we're playing with this tall lanky bag of wind, Chris Wollard and all I'd known of him is he was a great guitar player and super intense crazy guy. He was some big vegan straightedge warrior who all the little straightedge kids looked up to and would go and ask him questions 'how do I stay strong?' and he would guide them. That is what I knew of Chris. One of the first times I ever met him he came over with a couple of his friends to me and George and Kevin's place you know, and he was WASTED! I was like, 'wait a second I thought you were this guy?!' Just like the rest of us we were all growing up and finding our ins and outs and what makes us tick. Right off the bat, right out of the gate I thought he was completely obnoxious but I really liked him at the same time, I thought 'man that guy is an asshole but he's really cool!'
AMP: How did you meet George?
Chris: You know that we use to be two bands? It was me and Jason's band, Thread, and George and Chuck's band, Fossil. We needed a drummer and we tried out all these drummers and nothing worked and we must've tried out everyone who played drums in both towns (Gainesville and Sarasota) and nothing was working out. Jason kept going on about this drummer he played with and I remember I didn't know Jason that well and I know I didn't take it very seriously. I was kinda bouncing ideas off the other guy and didn't know what to do so finally one day Jason was just like, 'listen, dude is good lets just jam with him!' So I remember I showed up and this was like the coattails of me being like straightedge and vegan and George still has his fuckin' long ass down to his ass like metal fuckin' big like, big huge hair!
George: Total death metal, I'm from Florida!
Chris: And were in this strip of warehouses that is known for just being dirt rock metal heads cos it's Tampa! I fuckin' rolled up to this dude and I was like GOD damn another metal head?! WHAT THE FUCK MAN! Cos he looked crazy!
George: SEE I said the same thing about Chris, you son of a bitch! No way!
Chris: We were just lookin at each other saying like oh man, this ain't gonna work!! But IT DID!! We started hanging out cos we were jamming well together right. Cos really he was in a metalish kinda band.
George: He was the exact opposite of everything I wanted to be and probably vice versa too.
Chris: Oh yeah! But what we were looking for we didn't really know. We didn't know what we wanted until we found it.. We were just kids from beach towns and our band was like mega watered down Big Drill Car kinda stuff. Their band was pretty good but it was also in that time when I wouldn't call it grunge but that drop D, heavy, you know.. They were good cos George was sitting in the back pounding his ass away! It was amazing, we would play a practice and we were stoked cos we played the best we could and it was good, good in a New Yorker kinda way, it was just good. But then you'd go see Fossil play and George would just go berserk and you'd be like, 'whoa what a drummer!!' There was nobody else in the area, NOBODY that played like that! So we all moved up together. Even though we were two different bands it was still like the four of us, and me and Jason wanted to get a little heavier, but our singer was singing real pretty. It was good, but we kept having these tendencies to keep getting a little heavier. The pop is cool, but we see what George is doing every night and we're like FUCK I wanna do that! George was just filling in when we started playing with him but the more we played with him the more we wanted him in the band. Let's make this more a band, lets let it evolve and the guy that was singing for our band was playing guitar too. He was pretty much the main songwriter for that band and we would come up with stuff but he wasn't too into it and didn't really hear where we were coming from.. but we didn't know where we were coming from either.
George: What made the decision to go to Gainesville so easy for you? (This is where George took over the interview for a minute, thanks Georgie!)
Chris: I had been up there a shit ton of times writing with Zach and Shawn, and I was always going up to Spoke and Radon shows and the old Less Than Jake shows, Dig Dug shows and the first time I went to Gainesville we went to the Spoke house and it was like the first punk house I was ever in. It was the perfect picture of a punk house in my mind growing up, you know? When you were listening to Minor Threat and you were looking at that Salad Days 7" and you know I knew that living in a retirement community with my family is not what I want to be doing THAT is what I want to be doing. And so I went to the Spoke house and everything was perfect, lunatics everywhere and art and instruments everywhere, every single room of the house was somebody else's bedroom and you had to go through peoples bedrooms to get to other peoples bedrooms ya know what I mean, just FUCKIN AWESOME! I walked in and it was like I gotta move here! I'm going to Gainesville! I talked to my girlfriend and she was like, 'I'm going to Gainesville,' talked to my best friend and he said, "I'm going to Gainesville!" I talked to George and he said, "I'm going to Gainesville!" Fuck it, let's go!!
Jason: This was right before we started Hot Water. We had Thread and Fossil going on and George was pretty much in Thread with us and then Fossil's bass player would be back at the end of the summer, so I wasn't going to go to Miami for school cos it pretty much just sucks there, so there's that. I went to Gainesville and there were just flyers for shows everywhere and Spoke and Radon were from there and they were like the only bands that played in a town other than where they were from in Florida so I was just like, 'Oh I'll go there' cos that seems like a good place to start a band.
Chris: We were jamming so well together, god that is such a stupid word, but we were jamming so well together that we started hanging out and drinkin' and partying and at the end of the summer we knew Jason was going back to school and so we were like fuck it let's go. This group of two bands, Fossil and Thread, all moved up to Gainesville. All four of us were a complete mess, it was the first time we had moved away from our families and we were just a condensed group and we knew nobody and were just pushing the limits everyway that we could.
George: I remember thinking, 'I'm going to Gainesville' and two weeks later I was packing my car. We moved away from a place we were pretty much dialed into and it's hard to start again at ground zero.
Chris: We all went up there and all got apartments at the same spot where Jason was already living. We all lived within a hundred yards of each other and we would all go to the Hardback together and we were the only people we knew in town and after the show or the bar we would all go home together and sit up all night listening to records and playing guitar and just feeling like this is what I want to do, no doubt about it! Everything we need is right here. Just keep writing, and we were writing all the time!
Chuck: George and I had already been talking about getting the hell out of Sarasota. Nothing was happening down there, for just some young kids who want to play it's just the absolute worst place to be. Jason already lived up in Gainesville so the most obvious solution was to go to Gainesville. I had a guitar I loved to play and I wanted to fuckin' play guitar! I kinda thought we'd all move up there with our bands, but then me and Chris would start a side project.
Chris: Yeah, I didn't know these guys for more than two months before I moved in with them. I had no idea who these guys were all I knew is we had a lot of fun playing and we all wanted to play. We all know that Gainesville is fun.. awesome for bands especially for local bands. Let's go up there, get out of this beach town where it's all old people. We got up there and singer dude wasn't too into it and we were like, well this is what we want to do. That's why the first song we ever wrote was 'Us and Chuck' it was our band writing a song with Chuck. We were practicing one day in my apartment in the spare bedroom and Chuck was jamming...
George: ...no drum set, just me tapping on the floor...
Chris: ...and Chuck was jamming with us, our band, our half ass band not even really a band, adding another person and we just wrote it down on a piece of paper and showed it to the singer and he wasn't too into it and we were torn cos is this where we want to go? Yeah this is where we want to go and we were like well fuck it, Chuck can sing, well me and him can hold a tune, but it was supposed to be Chuck as a lead singer but then he kept writing guitar parts and I kept writing lyrics and that's how we became two guitar players and two singers.
Jason: Chuck was originally supposed to just sing but he would keep coming to practice and bringing his fucking guitar and amp and I was like, 'dude why are you, you are just supposed to sing' and to this day he still just keeps playing guitar!
Chuck: I don't know what happened!
Jason: And now he doesn't like singing anymore, he only wants to play guitar, he shoulda just told us that in the first place!
George: He tricked us!
Jason: He totally did! He budged us into letting him play guitar!
Jason: So that is how we started, totally by accident which is why I imagine why we don't blow.
Chris: Perfect way to start a band. It was totally utilitarian, we have a drummer, a bass player, and a couple of dudes who play guitar and kinda sing, let's start there.
Jason: Three months after we started playing our buddy who ran the local record store said, "I think I'll put out a record for you guys, you don't sound like all the other bands in town." Which did not work out very well for us for a long time. We were totally the bastard stepchildren for that town for a long time.
George: But if it wasn't for Var and if it wasn't for Todd Hughes. We happened to meet the cool people in Gainesville who don't really give a shit, just like good music and can see through a bunch of bullshit. We met these people who had a label, had a record store, and we became really good friends and introduced us to the scene.
Jason: Well and we did stuff too, like go on tour! All the bands like Spoke and all those bands had been on like one tour, where we were like, 'WE'RE GOING ON TOUR!'
George: We got so much shit in the beginning cos we'd play like two or three times a month and we would get the bigger shows that came to town and other bands would give us shit.
AMP: At this point Jason and George both start talking at the same time and neither one will shut up...
Jason: When we got to open for Avail for the first time we got a lot of shit for that one man.
George: Everyone was like these new guys got to open for Avail, what the shit is that?! But also when we did a show we would go out and have a six-pack of beer in our backpack, take our bikes and go to Denny's and pass out thousands of flyers all over town for our show.
Jason: We wouldn't just go to the punk rock store and be like, if you wanna come that would be cool.
George: No, we would go and just plaster the kiosks in Gainesville, and put like 4 flyers on every telephone pole, the coffee shops, the pizza joints, where ever and just tell everybody we're playing and if you pass out a thousand flyers eventually...
Jason: ...50 people turn up!
George: That was a huge show back then!! People would say, "How'd you get that many people?" I don't know; just let people know about it!
Jason: Let it not be the cool kids club for once and just let people know!
George: And we'd get shit for it, like, 'oh they're popular! Fuck those guys!'
Jason: They sound like Samiam, well COOL! We were sellouts for getting people to go to our shows, BIG DEAL!
George: Right off the bat we were sellouts
Jason: Yeah, like signing to Epitaph was no big fuckin' deal at all cos we'd already dealt with it, I could sign to the biggest label in the world and not feel weird about it. Total Big Deal.
George: Right, BIG DEAL. We've all said it a million times; I think Jason started it, 'start your own fucking band!'
Jason: If you don't like my band, start your own!
George: Big deal, see what you can come up with, good luck to ya!
Jason: Tell me how many people come to your show! I won't fuckin' go! Yeah so that was that then we didn't put out a record for years, we put out a crappy singles collection everybody thinks is our first record.
George: And I'm still pissed about that, it wasn't intended to be a record. I remember everybody being scared shitless to talk to Var and I was the furthest removed from punk rock so I sat him down and was like, 'Dude look, will you put out a record for us, everybody else is kinda freakin' out about talking to you about it,' and Var was like, 'Yeah whatever' and that was it, done deal.
Chris: THAT'S RIGHT YOU'RE COOL!!
George: We had built it up in our heads like it was going to be this big weird thing trying to like, not sell it, but this weird...
Jason: ..We didn't want him to tell us we were bad.
George: Especially Jason and Chris loved Spoke and Radon and the Gainesville scene so much we didn't want to get turned down by the guy that made it happen. So I just went in and was like yo, put a record out and he's like 'yeah no problem,' no BIG DEAL!
Chris: It was a big deal then!
Jason: The first tour was just on the 7" in the summer and that is where you and I got stuck at that weird Australian stripper girl's house in Yonkers for like 4 fucking days eating vegemite and hiding from her mom!
George: In my brain the Hardback was the cool fuckin' party and every time we walked in we were crashing the party, it was fucking cool man.
Chris: Eventually they got use to us crashing the party! We crashed the town! I remember the guy who put out our first demo, he heard that shit and was like, 'I don't really like it.'
George: Well everything else sounded like Screeching Weasel, which is fine but not for us.
Chris: We were a mess, so sloppy. I can understand how it would have been hard to like us back then.
George: We were stoked!
Chris: We were ecstatic, that is one of the reasons we are called Hot Water Music, we needed a name for our first Hardback show and we were so fuckin' stoked, we were like "we got a show at the Hardback!" (high fives all around) WE NEED A NAME!!!
George: I think due to the fact that we didn't know anybody we could be friends with everybody! It didn't matter. We were here for the party, we were a band. We weren't tied onto anything but Hot Water Music.
AMP: What was your first show?
George: It was with Fried Christ and on the flyer they put Fried Christ HUGE!
Chris: Section 8 was printed pretty damn big and then Hot Water Music about as small as it could be and still be able to read it.
George: It was like copyrights size print, it was amazing.
Chris: Now it wasn't our first show it was our first Hardback show.
George: It was our first show in a scene.
Chris: Yeah, our first show show.
George: Alan the guy who ran the place wanted to put us on a show for awhile, but someone in the scene had seen us and said 'oh fuck that band', but we told Alan we'd play any show and he knew we practiced 5 days a week.
Chris: They knew we would play any show that they needed a band for, and we did, we played two or three times a week at the Hardback, we played with everyone! We said, "WE WILL PLAY ANY FUCKIN SHOW, just let us play." Do you remember the first time we got paid more than a hundred dollars and we were all standing outside looking at the hundred dollars going 'oh my god!' and we must of been a band for a year or a year and a half before we ever got paid a hundred dollars.
George: We couldn't believe it!
Chris: This is counting demo tapes sold. We never made more than a hundred dollars. I remember walking out one time with like $89.00 thinking we almost made a hundred dollars! I can also remember walking out of that place in North Carolina with $4.00 and going 'THIS IS 4 DOLLARS! This asshole actually just paid us 4 dollars!" I would rather have you tell me to go fuck myself than hand me 4 dollars!
AMP: What did you do with the hundred bucks?
George: We probably bought pizza and beer; we didn't do anything good with it, until Jason took over.
Chris: We use to spend our money on tons of sheets of that shitty sticker sheet paper then cut stuff out of the local paper to make stickers with then spend hours at the copy place then spend all night walking around town just sticking stickers to everything! Back then we didn't have anything to do. We thought, 'ok we can walk around all night smoking cigarettes, talking, and putting up stickers.'
George: We had a friend who worked at Kinko's and he would help us make thousands of flyers and stickers for free.
Chris: I taught everyone how to silkscreen, we'd use the silkscreen lab to make t-shirts. We'd sell the shirts cos we were living in these corporate apartments paying insane rent instead of moving into a house but we made it happen! Making it happen even in the direst of scenarios is a common theme for Hot Water Music It is never a 'poor us' situation, look how hard we work, aren't we rad, or some fucking badge of "sceneiority" for them. It is more a very simple way of living and making the most of what life offers them, whatever it takes to play that next show is the bottom line.
Chris: My year anniversary of living in Gainesville was spent sleeping on the porch at George and Chuck's house, I was totally homeless for months and they had a couch on the porch so sometimes I would wakeup there with the summer sun beating me on the face. If Chuck or George didn't come home I would sleep on one of their beds which were basically bunk beds or I'd sleep on the porch, or wander around somewhere to see who was still awake.
George: The whole goal for living like that and doing all of those things was to be able to go on tour and play and get paid 4 dollars. Every time we went on a tour we'd have to quit our shitty job and then when we came home we'd have to find another shitty job.
Chris: We didn't have enough money to record a lot of that 'Finding The Rhythms' stuff and I had this shitty metal guitar, the Jackson, something like what Korn plays or one of those cats, and we didn't have enough money to keep the recording going so I was like, 'alright I don't want this thing,' so we traded the guitar to the studio for studio time, whatever, we didn't care! The only thing that mattered was the local scene, with the exception of like Avail or Jawbreaker.. We're like were here, were broke, were doing our thing. No Idea has got our back by supporting every local band that can't afford to do shit, Rob and his studio is making it affordable for everyone to get a decent recording and through the years better and better recordings at the same fuckin' awesome price. And all of your friends totally were like 'hey man you need a place to stay; you can stay at my place I won't be home tonight.' I remember I was renting a storage place for six months and I spent Forty dollars a month on that instead of rent cos we were touring for the Summer, I didn't have any money and on tour we would all just kinda chip in and buy lame-o spaghetti and peanut butter and bread and we can live like that and when I come home I can just crash with my friends and every single one of our friends and us all worked in kitchens all around town so you would show up at whatever restaurant and get what you could for free. Hare Krishna lunch at the school, there were ways of making it! And it was awesome, totally awesome!!
George: Touring in an Astro van with five people and all of our equipment no trailer. It was Chris's van, and it's still a van that people use and tour in!
Chris: It's still the same thing today, we still live pay check to pay check, and 10 years later we'll still go to where our friends work and you might know the guy running the kitchen and so you get him to make you a burger and you know the girl who's the waitress and so she'll give you the employee discount on the beer your drinking, it's still like that. The Top and Leos!
AMP: It's like together you can do it!
Chris: Yeah and that was the idea behind moving to Gainesville, like that is such a big thing when you finally feel that like I can rely on you cos you are in the same thing I am. You are from a totally different place and totally different life but there is that spirit! Touring on a magazine called BOOK YOUR OWN FUCKING LIFE for years on end seems like a crazy idea until you think of the fact that there is somebody organizing this book FULL of contacts. It's obviously not that crazy cos it's a book FULL of contacts. The fact that you can make a book full of contacts of people willing to put up your band, feed your ass, get you a show, maybe get you enough gas money to get you to the next show it's fucking phenomenal, that is a HUGE deal! That was amazing!
AMP: Returning the generosity shown to HWM on the road is also very important to these guys.
Chris: I remember Cursive came to town, must of been about 7 years ago and I had a one bedroom efficiency apartment, the shower drain was just a hole in the floor, I could play fetch with my dog by putting the tennis ball on the floor and it would just roll to the other side of the room, it was totally beau beau ass shit right? I was completely broke, I had a kid at that point and I was struggling to pay for whatever I could for him and struggling to stay on tour and struggling to keep my gear going and struggling to whatever... I had nothing! I had a little tiny pot that I could cook cans of soup in and I would eat half and my dog would eat half, I didn't have any fuckin' silverware and this whole band Cursive came and stayed at my place. I didn't have a bed. I didn't have any chairs. You had to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag and if you slept completely next to somebody you could fit six people in there! And the whole band stayed there, and they got there after the show and they were like, "we wanna make some food" and I'm like fuck man we need to go buy some pots and pans then, what do you wanna cook? So we went to the store and first we figured out what they wanted to cook then we went to find all the pots and pans needed to cook it and then we needed plates cos I didn't have anything! The whole band stayed there and didn't complain or anything.
George: Yeah the place was ridiculous, it's like you walked in and you were like, 'you gotta be kidding me'
Chris: The only thing in there was a sleeping bag that me and my dog slept on and a desk that the stereo was on and the records were underneath. That was it.
AMP: Reminds me of my first apartment in LA, I too had nothing, but it was no big deal cos it was what I needed to be doing at the time.
Chris: It sounds weird talking about it, but it was no big deal. Its not like this tragic story cos I'm living my life the way I want to and this sucks right now, but this is temporary.
George: It's the 5 for a dollar ramen and your stoked, you don't care! All that really mattered was the shows and the music!
AMP: It's amazing how it can change so quickly.
Chris: No not really, I just did this with you a few months ago .I just showed up in San Francisco and you were crashing at a friend's house and then invited me to come crash along with you at his house! And I knew I had to get like 8 hours down the coast but I had no idea how I was gonna get there and we worked it out and then when we got there I didn't know where I was gonna be staying and that lasted for a few days. After a week I finally made it to my destination after mysterious car rides and family dinners of people I have no idea of who they are!
AMP: And it was a great time!
Chris: Things change, but it doesn't change that much.
AMP: Sometimes the couches get more comfortable.
Chris: Sometimes, sometimes, but it's no big deal. I love this carnie shit, and it's not so much just being on the road, but being part of this weird ass family that I just can't seem to put into words. Just the fact that there are countless people you've never met that you'll meet tomorrow and treat them like you've known them your entire life it's just kinda fascinating! Jason Black has acted as the band organizer, Mom, tour manager, and for most of the bands existence their manager in general. He makes it happen. Jason and I discussed what it takes to be a career musician and that it takes a lot more than just practicing to get to the next show.
Jason: FOR ME this is a fuckin' job. There is not a day where I don't do stuff for the band. We can be off for six months and still not a day goes buy where I don't do something for the band. My life is band orientated and a lot of it is shitty stuff that I don't ever want to do, never thought I would be doing, but at the same time it's kinda a morbid curiosity. The business managerial shit, like telling my dudes I can't give them anymore money or yelling at my friend at Epitaph for not doing something I think they should have done, it sucks yelling at people you dig, you know they are working hard and you're working really hard too, so sometimes you just have to bum out and sometimes you do have to call people out on pulling their own weight, and it fuckin' sucks. There is the constant challenge to make it like a family, but also the fact that if I don't do this I'm not going to fuckin' eat. At the end of the day I get to go play shows and make records and I love it, I would never want to do anything else for the rest of my life, I fuckin' love it. But everyone at Epitaph gets up every morning to go to work for me. Why shouldn't I do the same thing, wake up every morning and do something to help me too? Billy Corgan is the asshole who said, 'every morning I wake up at 9 am and either I write or the Smashing Pumpkins practice everyday. I dig it, but it can turn into something really shitty if you let it.
AMP: What kinds of specific things do you do for the band on an average day?
Jason: It varies depending on where everyone's head is at and depending if I can railroad everyone into doing stuff, but what do I do? Well like right now working with our booking agent to book the tours and what bands to take, working with our booking agent to go over all the offers and figuring out routings and packages and ticket prices and all that kinda stuff. Getting the deadlines together for the record. Getting the tours planned out so they make sense, which they don't always, but to be on the road at the right time in the right place and making sure the label knows that and making sure that they are on the same page and then getting the label organized to get all their press together and interviews and marketing plans and making sense out of it. It's a lot of shit.
AMP: How did you learn to do all that?
Jason: I didn't and I still don't know. I was the first one with a cell phone and email and all that shit. It just kinda all fell in my lap. Shit, organizing these guys and telling them what we need to do and when and if it's cool with everybody, getting our crew tickets and all the shipping and merch orders and merch designs, the website. There's days where it doesn't take up any time and then there are weeks where I work 12 hour days. I've learned to pick my battles, I'd rather be chilling going to a movie or the bar instead of arguing over how many records we've shipped. I think it's also more difficult cos I'm actually in the band, so dealing with labels and stuff sometimes I don't think they pay as much attention as if I was a big cracker jack manager guy. I think it also can work to my advantage though cos nobody wants to piss the dude in the band off. Nobody wants to tell me 'no,' but at the same time it can get strenuous cos if I'm yelling at the label the band is yelling at the label instead of third party blame.
(Wollard comes in singing)
Jason: If you're not going to take part in the interview you can't interrupt it anymore!
(Wollard sings louder)
AMP: So what's it like trying to get Chris Wollard to do things on a daily basis?
Chris: I do lots of things on a daily basis, but trying to get me to do thing that I don't normally do might be kinda hard.
Jason: Again, I pick my battles. I figure out if he cares or not and then if he cares I'll call him and leave him a message trying to convince him it was his idea to do it. Sometimes it works and he thinks it's a great plan and then off we go!
Chris: He already knows what I'm going to agree with anyway
Jason: And if I know there is no option for him to disagree and have another option then I just go ahead and make the decision he didn't want to.
Chris: I know I'm a pain in the ass so I stay at home! I know I'm a pain in the ass, I know!
Jason: I try not to call them (the band) unless I absolutely have to, and they've gotten a lot better at just being like, 'whatever.'
Chris: I think I've gotten better about it cos when you or George call me is cos we're fuckin' jamming! That kinda shit I love doing!
Jason: The only time it really sucks is when one of us will get pissed and say, 'why the fuck are we doing this' and I'm like, 'well, cos I've been working on it for three months while you've been watching movies and now your pissed, I don't really care.' And that doesn't happen very often and when it does, usually about 10 seconds after it happens the person is like, 'whoa sorry dude bad day?' This is what I like doing, and even the stuff I complain about, like all the business stuff, I do dig it, it's cool to know how people try to sell records, why people buy records and what people dig and it's thoroughly frustrating too because you watch popularity get bought by a lot of bands.
AMP: Would you be satisfied with that?
Jason: NO not at all. I could do it if I was just playing bass for a solo artist or something cos I also totally enjoy just playing bass.
George: I think that if we would be ok with that we would have already done it.
AMP: Is this part of why you've lasted so long?
Jason: Well yeah, no matter what we can say anything to each other.
Chris: It's already been said!
Jason: We just don't take it personally cos it's not meant that way. It's like Jesus Christ! I live with three dudes and I'm fuckin' gonna have to vent on your ass every once and a while.
AMP: Let's talk about life in the Van.
Jason: Avail still have the Vanarchy! George and I were just talking about the van today and how we all keep talking about getting a Castle like the Souls yet for some reason we just keep riding around in the van man! We're like, 'well that tour is gonna be crowded' and there we are all hanging out in the van, it's weird, touring in a van fucking sucks sometimes but it's really awesome sometimes too.
Chris: I don't even like that van and I'm soooo attached to it.
Jason: You feel pride that you rolled up to the show with all the tour buses, we've rolled up to some weird shows with a tour bus and been like, 'god I wish we could get a van for the day so we didn't feel like dicks.'
Chris: More than that for me is, 'ok every other time we've come to this city we've rolled around town hanging with our friends and now I'm stuck in this bus in a parking lot and no way to go anywhere.'
Jason: And we can't stay at this hotel or fuckin' wall-mart cos we can't park the fuckin' bus there...
Chris: ...and fucking bus you can't decide anything for yourself. Even with the RV with your friend driving, sometimes you just can't find a place to park. The van is kinda cool out there, and you are more mobile. It kinda sucks being in it, but it's kinda cool a whole van full of people piling out after this crazy drive and everybody is totally cracked!
AMP: Do you wrestle and fight in the van?
Jason: Chuck hit me in the fuckin' head once!
Chris: Ok I'll tell the story. I was in the seat right behind the driver and Jason was the driver, Chuck was sitting next to me. First of all we are not even out of the neighborhood yet.
Jason: We are a block from my house at a gas station...
Chris: ...and we're waiting at the light and we are like one car length away from pulling into the gas station on the corner and we're just sitting there, all talking shit, getting amped for tour, still getting ready to get gas, we were all talking shit about something.
Jason: Somebody was driving all stupid and we couldn't get the van into where we needed at the gas station.
Chris: Yeah we were blocked and shouldn't have been, but that has nothing to do with it.
Jason: Chuck leaned over me and started honking the horn!
Chris: Oh yeah this is so great!! Yeah, the car wouldn't move up. We coulda got in there right, so Chuck got all impatient and he like jumps over Jason and lays on the horn and is screaming at her and we're like parked right there and it's this poor lady in the car and a van load of dudes and we just look menacing and so Jason turns and flips Chucks hat off his head and is like, 'what the fuck are you doing?'
Jason: I'm like beat it! I'm trying to drive!
Chris: Cos the lady is looking at Jason like, 'what the fuck asshole!?' So Chuck dives on top of Jason while he's in the driver's seat and hits him.
Jason: He totally went nuts, totally insane!
Chris: So these two get locked in a fuckin' scuffle and I'm sitting behind the driver's seat and so they are like on me cos he's half in the back and Chuck is half in the front
Jason: Total disaster!
Chris: Meanwhile they are fighting and Jason's foot comes off the break. I'm sitting there going STOP IT! STOP IT! And they are like 'no way man' and I'm like NO THE VAN! STOP THE VAN!! And we totally ram this lady that Chuck was just honking at! She jumps out of the car and starts screaming at us and Jason and Chuck are still fighting so she sees this and just gets back in her car and takes off!!
Jason: She saw us and didn't say shit, she didn't say a fuckin' word!
Chris: So then we pulled into the gas station and we were like, 'oh my god the tour is cancelled right?' and like Jason was like, 'fuck this man!' and walks down to the ATM, I start pumping gas and Chuck is like 'oh man' put his head down and then walked over to the ATM and they come back like 5 minutes later and everything was totally fine.
Jason: Everything was totally fine but I was like, 'god relax!' That is a good example of how Chuck is conceivably the most impatient person alive and how I snap real easy! That is some funny shit and this was Reno's first tour with us and he had just got in the van with us and watched me and Chuck flip our lids not 5 minutes after being in the van.
Chris: I remember Chuck telling Jason, 'I'm sorry man, when I was punching you I was really punching someone else." Jason's like, 'its cool man.'
Jason: I'm like it's cool man just don't do it while I'm driving!
AMP: Lets talk about Chuck, he's not around.
Jason: Chuck is a son of a bitch.
George: Psychology with Hot Water Music!
Jason: He's such an amazingly generous person. (Jason's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER cell phones rings!) His generosity is the coolest part about that cat, but also such his Achilles heel. Always over extending himself and not people pleaser kinda way, but he really digs doing shit for other people and making other people happy and then they fuck up and don't ever make themselves happy and do this reverse motion into super selfish mode and it's just like bad sometimes.
AMP: The Giver breaks down?
Jason: Yeah totally. And it's sick.. Like the dude won't let me not eat a massive dinner every night when were here for example. He's like, 'what do you wanna eat?' and I'm like, 'Boca burgers is fine,' and he's like, 'no' and cooks like the most amazing..
George: ...chicken cacciatore or pesto pasta.
Jason: He'll make all the chicken cacciatore then never eat any and be all pissed off and hungry. But I've never met a nicer guy in my whole life, ever. He is the nicest person I've ever met, but it's like everyone.. You can also be the biggest son of a bitch in the world. There is a balance with all four of us like that. We all flip to the exact opposite.
George: We all love and hate each other all at the same time.
AMP: George was saying the same thing...
Jason: I'm a huge asshole on the surface but actually really nice sometimes?
AMP: No, it wasn't that specific, it was that there are two sides to everything and that as passionate and wonderful something can be it can also be as grueling and a struggle.
Jason: Totally, that is how I think of all four of us, all of our pros and definitely all of our cons too. The good thing is that we all know what each other's down sides are and what the up sides are and we roll with it. We can call each other out on our shit and it's never really that big of a deal. You can be point blank with somebody and it might turn into an argument but it's never going to be a personal argument. They are my friends.
AMP: George what do you admire about Jason?
George: I don't know how to put it in words, I guess I'm a pretty karma based person and he's not really, and he'll say and do some certain shit that in my perfect world doesn't make any sense but it doesn't fuck up his mojo in any given situation. If that bitch is having a good day or a bad day it doesn't matter he still plays bass like he's a fuckin' motherfucker. It doesn't ever seem to effect him, shit that's going on in his personal life never really effects him on stage, other than the occasionally he's too drunk. He'll admit it but usually like no matter what girlfriend or whatever he brings it every night. It's really hard for me to separate that from when I'm on stage. I can't fake it and I'm not saying that he does, cos he doesn't, but I'm saying that it's easier for him to say, 'ok this is what I'm doing now and I know all this other personal shit is going on in my life, but I have to ignore it because this is what I'm here to do right this second.' And I can't do that as well, so every time he does it and pulls it off I'm like, 'you son of a bitch!'
AMP: Band mate first or friend?
Jason: Friends. That's why we broke up in the first place.
George: He was a friend first, even though we've been around the world and we've had our problems, but ultimately I know that actually I love him and he loves me and like, no matter what the fuck happens, it's all good. He's the guy that went through college and I didn't and he's like, 'I've got my degree and I'm gonna manage the band,' and he does, essentially he manages the band and he's into that. Like checkin' soundscans and advertising, cos ultimately all we want is to be able to buy houses and live off our music. Be a career musician, which we are, but it's tough to do what we do, we don't make a lot of money.
AMP: Do you feel the same way about your guitar players?
George: Oh yeah, we're all fruity as hell! We're crazy, every single one of us has something good to offer. If you could blend the four of us into one person we'd be the perfect individual I think, but we can't. The rest of my band is everything I'm not but everything I strive to be.
Chuck: Chris.. just knowing him over the years, he is the most imaginative prolific talented song writer I have ever known. He just never ceases to amaze me. Just another reason to feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be playing with three guys like this. I've always respected his playing ability, his drive, his heart, his imagination, his soul, just everything about Chris Wollard. If anyone knows Chris Wollard aside from the face on the record or the guy up on stage, you know, you know it is definitely an experience being friends with him. Most of the time he's a pretty big pain in the ass! He is no ones tool or pet he always does his own thing.
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