Concert Preview: Standing Water
Creative license in music can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your attachment to a particular artist. When said attachment occured in that artist's career plays a prominent role as well.
Contrary to many in the rock 'n' roll establishment, Gainesville, Fla., hardcore mainstays Hot Water Music continually tinker with their formula, a brand of music that's never quite comfortably fit into any of the heretofore well-known categories like punk or emo. Fans who latched on at the outset, 1997's eponymous debut "Forever and Counting," may scoff at the newly-discovered intracacies on the quartet's eighth studio offering, "The New What Next" (Epitaph Records).
Tracks like opener "Poison," "Giver" and "The End of the Line" rock with reckless precision like the Hot Water Music of yore. The mid-tempo hustler "All Heads Down" piledrives on the chorus but eases along on the verses with uniquely tuned guitar. High and low lines propel the scraggily "Under Everything." "There Are Already Roses" struts with grand hall styling but "The Ebb and Flow" jounces thanks to fragmented time and combating rhythms.
At its core, though, Hot Water Music's sound always has maintained a viscerally stark state.
"I think the (fans) who don't like change kinda hit the bricks a few records back for the most part," bassist Jason Black said about midway through the band's current tour, which stops Sunday in the Emerson Theater, 4634 E. 10th St., Indianapolis. Silverstein, Planes Mistaken for Stars and Moments in Grace will be supporting acts. "I think (change) is more of a natural thing for us than it is maybe for a lot of other artists. We've always made an effort to do something different on every record. We just really don't feel like putting out the same record over and over again or repeating ourselves."
For Black this perpetual transformation serves as motivation for Hot Water Music.
"I think it works for us because it's allowed us to be a band that still exists, just because of the fact that we don't feel like we've done everything we can do," he said. "If we had put out six studio albums that all sound the same, I think we'd be getting bored with things a lot faster."
Pigeonholing, though, while typically a nuisance for musicians, does have a usefulness.
"You can't just throw us on tour with the next big thing and have it work all the time," Black said of the band's continual evolution. "I think it's more of a bane on marketing purposes than it is for anything else. But it's one of those things where we're not gonna sacrifice what we do or do anything different from the way we do it just to make it easier for people to understand our music."
Hot Water Music's resourcefulness may have alienated some devoted followers early on, but also has provided them opportunities from both ends of the spectrum, from slots on the grand, carnivalistic Warped Tour to basements and dives the world over. Coming from an act accustomed to trading such wildly disparate venues, Black said it's easy to keep the intensity up, so long as the support is there.
"The size (of the crowd) doesn't matter as much as their involvement in the show," he said. "We can play to 50 people, and if they're fired up we'll walk off the stage and think it's the best show that week and have played to 500 people every night."
It seems variety is the norm for Hot Water Music. That would explain how, for all intents and purposes, the quartet has remained a viable force in the music business and kept its work level steady for so long. Despite how up and down things may sometime seem, the four friends in Hot Water Music finally have achieved something so many groups only hope to enjoy --- stability.
"We've definitely reached a point where it's dependable," Black said. "Out of everything we've gotten out of the 10 years of being a band and the five years of touring, we've got some stability. We have a really good level of consistency that everyone's pretty content with. That said, there's always room to grow and more to do, which is what I think keeps us going."
By Wade Coggeshall