Short interview with Jason Black of Hot Water Music.

Over the past decade Hot Water Music has set a standard for quality rock by consistently creating smart, reflective and rocking albums that never disappoint. Consisting of an amazing rhythm section (Jason Black on bass, George Rebelo on drums) coupled with the back and forth dynamic of Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard's vocals and their complimentary guitar work, the group grimly established themselves with a distinct sound and killer live show. On their latest album, "The New What Net" Hot Water Music expands their sound into new territory, building on the style they've already perfected. Earlier this year things were looking grim as the group had to cancel several dates on the Honda Civic Tour with Dashboard Confessional because Ragan sustained a serious hand injury. As usual, Hot Water Music overcame the setback and is now gearing up for a new fall tour.

Matt Walker: The New What Next has all the familiar elements of a Hot Water Music album, but the overall sound is somewhat of a departure from past releases.

Jason Black: One thing we had discussed when we started writing these new songs was how we really felt like we needed to break out a bit from the last two records. "Caution" and "A Flight And A Crash" are kind of interchangeable to us, so we tried to think about what we should change up to make this record stand out. We came up with some really different feels and tempos and, luckily enough for us, they worked out. We kind of feel like this is the one record of ours you need to own. The one that has all the elements of the older and newer stuff.

MW: A lot of your songs have a very optimistic point of view regarding overcoming obstacles. What are some of the obstacles the band has had to overcome in your career?

JB: Oh, jesus, you name it. What you've got to realize is that what the band as an entity has to overcome is the sum of what all 4 people in the band are working through at any given time. When you take personal relationships and the like into consideration, you're looking at a ton of shit to wade though. Then, you also have to overcome actual band shit, like bad shows, bad reviews, bad tours, whatever. It's really tough at times, but I like it.

MW: Is this optimism something you consciously try to put into your music?

JB: We just write about how we live, so it basically just happens. To us, being pessimistic really doesn't make too much sense.

MW: How did you like playing the dates on a higher profile tour with Dashboard Confessional?

JB: That was a great time. We're pretty much down for whatever when it comes to shows. Each different type of show and venue has it's advantages and disadvantages, which we just try to utilize or overcome and play the best show possible.

MW: How is Chuck's hand injury? Is he in top form and ready for the upcoming tour?

JB: I wouldn't say top form, but he seems to be ready to go. We'll know in a few days!

MW: You are touring or recording all the time, how do you keep the momentum going? Does it ever get tiresome?

JB: It gets very tiring, which is why we've taken all summer off. We're also planning on having a less hectic schedule around this record. Not that we won't be out on the road killing it all year, we're just going to make what we do count big time.

MW: What do you think about the growing popularity of the indie/punk/hardcore scene and the changes it's gone through since you guys started out?
JB: The basic good that's come of it is that more people can hear about bands like us. The basic bad that's come of it is that, like when anything becomes very popular, the shit meter quits working and we end up with ever 10-cent punk band on the planet selling 4 million records. Whatever, though, it's not really something we concern ourselves with.

MW: Hot Water Music isn't an overtly political band, but you contributed to Rock Against Bush Vol. 2. How did you get involved with that?

JB: We consider being against what's happening in the world right now more common sense than politics. Our friends at Fat (Wreck Chords) told us about the comp pretty early on and it worked out with our schedule. We had a new song ready, and it's a great cause. Really, putting on song on a comp is the least we can do to help raise people's awareness.

MW: You guys have already been a huge influence on a lot of groups, what do you want most to be remembered for?

JB: That fact that we actually mattered for over 10 years, not 10 seconds.

By Matt Walker