interview: Hanging Out With ...Hot Hot Heat...
By Minyoung Jang
Despite having a name that’s the epitome of redundancy, Hot Hot Heat’s music is anything but, comprised of a fun mix of post-punk attitude and 80’s dance beats. Prior to their show on Friday (with openers We Are Scientists and The Redwalls), The Tech sat down and chatted with them about their musical influences, life on the road, and their upcoming album.
Hot Hot Heat is:
S= Steve Bays (vocals and keyboards)
D= Dustin Hawthorne (bass)
L= Luke Paquin (guitar)
Paul Hawley (drums) was not available for the interview. SB was interviewed separately from DH and LP.
TT: Where did the name Hot Hot Heat come from?
D: Paul made it up…
L: … and he’s not here.
S: There’s no good story behind it, unfortunately, except that it sounded cool. Originally we were in a bunch of other bands, and we were just going to be a band for parties and stuff, house parties, and it was just going to be all about having fun … it was originally meant to be for a party atmosphere. We didn’t think we’d be playing MIT or anything.
TT: So growing up is this where you’d imagined you’d be?
S: I know Paul would say yes for sure. He was always one of those guys that was like, in his shed playing drums and always pictured he would be … I went to school for six years after high school but wasn’t really into that and got a million jobs, but I [was] always in a band on the side but always as a hobby. And this is the first band that I started, that I ever sang for, actually.
TT: So who would you say are the influences of this band or are your personal musical influences?
D: I don’t like the Beatles.
S: Everything. It’s so hard to say. Anything that’s good really … depends on what day you ask.
TT: Anything that you guys actually like? What did you listen to on your way over?
D: I like hip-hop a lot. I just got the new Cage record. That’s really good. New Danger Doom record’s pretty good.
L: I’ve never heard of any of that stuff.
D: 50 Cent’s pretty good. [laughter]
L: Yeah, that’s true.
D: We Are Scientists are also really good too, I happen to like them a lot.
L: Yeah there’s this band that we’re touring with right now, We Are Scientists. We’re actually pretty big fans of their record so when they agreed to come and do this we were pretty psyched. You’ll hear them tonight.
S: What did we listen to last night … It depends on the day though, like yesterday was a power ballad day. So it was like, Def Leppard and Journey, but I wouldn’t tell you that those are my influences. But they are I guess, somehow a bit of an influence, but maybe not as much as the Beatles.
TT: What’s your favorite part of a live show?
S: I just look for a good vibe, really, for lack of a better word. Sometimes it’s a small show and it’s a great vibe and other times it’s a big show and a horrible vibe … it’s not really an issue of size. You can tell the crowd is going crazy and it’s great and sometimes it’s in a meathead kind of way, so it depends. It’s all about the mood in the room, you can tell if it’s going to be a good show … like within, half a song you can tell the vibe of the show. I usually just watch the opening bands and gauge it, and if it’s a really tough crowd I have an extra couple drinks.
D: The last song. [laughs] It varies … we have a new song that we wrote, that’s what I look forward to now. I’m getting a little sick of playing the same songs over and over again.
L: I mean yeah, we’ve been touring for Elevator since January so … we just want to write some new stuff.
TT: Favorite instruments?
D: I like all instruments. Whatever makes noise is fun.
L: I like guitar.
D: I play the bass, but I don’t actually like playing it. I kind of just got stuck playing it because nobody else could. So I prefer playing drums to guitar. I never practice my instrument, which is terrible.
L: I think every guitarist secretly wants to be a drummer. And vice versa. Luckily our drummer plays the guitar also, so he gets to feed both animals.
TT: Do you have any bizarre, funny stories about being on the road? What’s your favorite?
L: I’ve got a funny story about Dustin.
D: We played in Ibiza, in Spain and managed to run a car off
L: We were mixing pharmaceuticals and alcohol and managed to fall asleep…
S: …Just totaled it, and paid the police $400 to forget about it.
L: We just recently did an arena tour around the U.S. opening for Weezer and Foo Fighters. The very first night of the tour [Dustin laughs] Dustin decided to run up on the stage…
D: No, that didn’t happen. That’s totally not how it worked out.
L: Let me just tell the story…
D: Alright … it’s not true though.
L: Well, he somehow ended up… you jumped up on the scaffolding or something
D: I didn’t, I got sucked into the mosh pit…
L: Ok, so it wasn’t his fault … well he somehow ended up doing a stage-dive-esque maneuver and he got his jacket all torn up and he landed on two young girls and one of them was severely injured, maybe hospitalized
L: And this was the first night, we didn’t know any of these guys yet, they were pretty pissed off, and we thought we might get kicked off the tour for that. And Dustin had had a couple of drinks and then we decided to hop on the Foo Fighters’ bus and caught a ride with them into New York City. And I don’t know if we’re allowed to say what happened the rest of the night … but it was fun.
D: It was fun, I passed out.
TT: Since I’m from MIT, I have to ask an appropriately nerdy question to wrap up the interview. If you had pick a scientist, real or fictional, to identify yourself with, who would you pick?
L: Well, people call me ‘Einstein’ all the time, but I don’t think it’s an affectionate term. I think it’s in more of a sarcastic, backhanded kind of manner … like, “oh nice one, Einstein.” I’m assuming that they don’t mean it literally.
D: I don’t know scientists.
L: How about Andy? Tour manager of We Are Scientists.
D: Adam? Andy? Sorry, we just met them.
L: The guys in We Are Scientists are scientists.
D: No, it’s only the drummer.
L: Oh really?
D: Yeah he has a degree in physics or something.
L: [laughs] Oh, I thought that’s why they call their band We Are Scientists…
S: Let me think of my list of scientists that I have access to in my brain … What’s the guy that invented Mac?
TT: Steve Jobs?
S: Yeah, he’s pretty huge on my list. Because he also knew how to market himself. I don’t identify with him, but I think he’s smart … I think he’s got a good approach. Maybe I identify with him … because Mac is excellent but it took years and years for them to catch on, and they’re still the underdogs, so…
TT: Is that analogous to Hot Hot Heat?
S: Yeah, we’re definitely still the underdogs.