You may not know it yet, but Hot Hot Heat might just be the band that saves Canada’s rock scene. The group’s latest record, Future Breeds, hit shelves (physical and virtual) on June 8th, and proved that the darlings of rock have done it again. First appearing on British Columbia’s music scene in 1999, Hot Hot Heat may have gone through a lot of changes over the years, but one constant has always been their signature quirkiness, stellar musicianship and intoxicating sounds.
I had the chance to sit down with drummer Paul Hawley and bassist Luke Paquin at Toronto’s Red Bull Headquarters during the NXNE festival, as Hot Hot Heat prepped for an exclusive performance at the intimate, loft-style locale. What follows is not a typical Q&A interview, but rather an open conversation that allows one to gain a glimpse into what Hot Hot Heat is all about, and what the band members’ personalities are truly like.
Luke: Once you hit play [on your recorder], I’ll get serious so …
Paul: Well, if you hit play we’re going to hear some other interview you did.
Me: You’ll probably hear Alice Cooper then.
Luke: What, today? Where? Was it a phoner?
Me: Yeah, he apparently doesn’t like to do interviews in person.
Paul: Really? I don’t like to do them on the phone. I like to do them in person, but I’m also like, half his age.
Luke: Well, the thing about Alice Cooper is; he’s a pretty big deal.
Me: So, are days like these, full of interviews, tiring? Do you sometimes wish you didn’t have to do the press?
Luke: Well, it would be easier if they were in a row, and you could just do them all in two hours and then it was done. For some reason, we’re doing like, one fifteen minute interview and then we’ll wait two hours.
Paul: A press conference would be good! [Laughs]
Luke: [Laughs] Yeah! We got up super early today and it’s been mostly doing nothing with a few fifteen minute interviews in between so, it kind of gets a bit tedious. Luckily, the World Cup is on. I hope you don’t take it personally, but I’m a big fan of the England team. I hope it doesn’t make my answers sound less genuine because my eyes are not fixed on [you], but on the T.V.
Me: I just won’t believe anything you’re saying! So, for this new record, I read that you actually built your own studio?
Luke: Well, not the building itself.
Paul: We had a couple of rooms available to us. Steve did more of the technical, he’s really good with the technical stuff, but we spent a couple of months assembling it. There’s sort of like an office/control room where we sit and listen to people recording, and we rehearse in there. It’s basically a recording studio, rehearsal space, hang out; party at night and headquarters during the day.
Luke: Opium den – whatever you need.
Paul: It’s great; it’s a terrific space and we’re super lucky. We work hard, and it’s not cheap!
Luke: [Laughs] And it’s not cheap! But I think overall you save a lot of money ’cause you record the record yourself, and you really cut down on the commuting back and forth to L.A., where most people record, you know? It’s like you get the idea and by the time you get to L.A. you forgot what it was that you even wrote. Now, the way that we have it, you can lay it down immediately which, our new album it sounds more immediate than any of the past albums. Just when you put it on it sounds like, alive.
Paul: We made the move to Vancouver and I just love it. Why spend time away from home when we can be doing it in Vancouver? Sleeping in our own beds, with our own friends and family there. In retrospect, it’s just such a no-brainer.
Me: So you wouldn’t want to record in a different studio ever again?
Luke: I’d like to go to an exotic locale, but I don’t consider the warehouse district of Burbank to be inspiring, you know what I mean? I’ll go to Jamaica and do a record.
Paul: I like the idea of packing all our gear into a huge U-Haul and taking a spot in Brooklyn, and staying there for three or four months. [Laughs] Right after I’m gushing about Vancouver, but that’s the beauty of our situation: we can move around if we want, and still live in Vancouver.
Luke: Or the South of France.
Paul: The fees alone would kill you. You’d need a couple thick-ass boats to take all your guitars over there. A bevy.
Luke: I have a shirt with a picture of a boat on it, does that count? Well, Alice Cooper moved to Phoenix and he hasn’t really written a good tune since so … [laughs]. A good period for me was when he had Kane Roberts on guitar, when was that like, the mid [trails off] That’s a little off topic! [To Paul] She told me she hung out with Alice Cooper well, over the phone, so I’ve been preoccupied. Do you think they’d rather hear about you or Alice Cooper? No offense.
Paul: So we should be talking about The Beatles?
Luke: I figured you would, eventually.
Me: How critical are you guys of yourselves, and the music you create?
Paul: I’m picky about the way the drums sound. I work really hard to get the right sound in the room. When it comes to recording, Steve will spend the time that it needs to massage the sound. I’m more immediate, visceral, I need it now. We are critical guys, I think you have to be. We’re critical listeners, we’re critical watchers, we’re critical livers [laughs].
Luke: For some reason, this album feels like there’s less filler. We actually liked every song, you know what I mean? In the past, we’ve written twenty songs and then you’d pick out ten. [Now,] our self-editing process has gotten good enough where we only see a song through if we plan on putting it on the actual record. Otherwise, what’s the fucking point of the song? This is the first album we made where everyone likes every song on it. Except maybe one, but …
Me: Do you ever listen to your own music?
Luke: All I listen to is my own stuff.
Paul: What influences the record? The last one! [Laughs]
Luke: I haven’t put [the new record] on an iPod yet. I’ve got the CD at home, but I try not to burn myself out on it too quickly. But as far as, yeah, I listen to it – it’s my favorite group, to be honest with ya!
Luke: That was Paul and what’s his name? [Laughs] Steve.
Paul: We were doing some volunteer work at a school and just like helped kids do their homework so, we were like, “Okay, we’re done, we’re gonna take a couple of beers to the park.” We got kicked out of the park [and] we were biking back to Brooklyn, it was a one way street and we hit cop tape. The cops taped off the whole street. And there were some angry, angry people; it was pretty freaky. Most are one way streets so we’re like, “We can’t ride on this street so, we’ll ride on the sidewalk and get around the obstruction.” [Then] a group of cops pulled us over and gave us summons, and we got a court date.
Luke: If you really wanna stop somebody from getting through something; put a piece of tape up!
Paul: It was scary! Somebody had been shot and killed there not forty minutes before. The cops were taking pictures of the bullet cases, but that was my one and only scary N.Y. story
Luke: Was Alice Cooper’s interview this good?
Me: Not even close [laughs].
Luke: Takes himself so seriously that guy. Why would he fire his whole band at the height of when they were good? Remember the original Alice Cooper group?
Paul: [Staring at Luke] I’m looking at you and you’ve got one long gray hair.
Luke: I do?
Paul: You want me to pull it out?
Luke: Yeah, are you sure it’s gray? This is the day I discovered that I was gray. [Paul pulls out the hair and shows it to him] Is that grey?
Me: You guys have toured with some great names like The Killers and The Foo Fighters, who’s been really great tour with?
Luke: I don’t want to incriminate anyone!
Paul: Foo Fighters are really fun guys! But we’ve toured with some not-so-great bands that are just tremendous guy, and then some good bands who are just awful. It depends on how seriously the band needs to be taken. You can meet somebody and sense how seriously they want to be taken fairly quickly.
Luke: It’s really strange that like, there’s this great, what do they call it?, indie rock movement of the early to mid-2000s and one of the main negative effects of that is that people forgot that like, rock music is fun. It got super important like, even the term “rock” is reserved for bands like Buckcherry, you know? We are a rock band: we love to rock, we drink beer, and have sex with anything that moves. Like, I’m not ashamed. A lot of our peers, a lot of them they just take themselves a bit seriously so you’re like, “Hey man, are you going to Jumbo’s clown room after the show?” and they’re like, “No!” [Laughs]
Me: Who would you love to tour with, given the opportunity to pick anyone?
Paul: I’d tour with the Chili Peppers in ’92.
Luke: I heard Soundgarden just got back together…
Me: Who would you love to just party with?
Paul: Chilis in ’92!
Buy the new album below, and for more Hot Hot Heat visit: www.myspace.com/hothotheat