Hot Water Music
An Interview with Chuck Ragan
Over the past few years, Hot Water Music has established a following that is as diverse as their music. They routinely draw crowds of 1000 or more, not just in their hometown in Gainesville, but all over the country. At any HWM show, you can find every type of music fan possible. They could be into hardcore, emo, punk, metal, or just plain rock. Ordinarily it would be rare, maybe even strange, to have this mixture, but it makes perfect sense for HWM, because their sound is made up of all these sounds and more. Known as an amazing live band that is constantly on the move, HWM are headed for Japan, Hawaii, and Europe this summer. They just completed a tour in the US with Leatherface to support the new split CD with Leatherface released by BYO. They also have their new full-length, No Division , which came out on August 10th on Some Records. They sent me a copy of it, and it’s amazing. If you thought their stuff in the past was great, you’ll be blown away by the new album. They keep redefining the boundaries of hardcore/punk/rock with each release, and this album is by far their greatest yet. The following was conducted with singer/guitarist Chuck Ragan a few days before the band left for Japan.
So, Chuck, HWM have been releasing a lot of stuff lately. This year already you’ve released two 7-inches, your live record, Live at the Hardback , a split CD with Leatherface, and your new album, No Division . How have you managed to do so much in such a short time?
Chuck Ragan : A lot of the stuff that’s even coming out now was supposed to come out before we broke up last summer. The two 7-inches that just came out on No Idea we recorded over a year ago. There’s a whole session we recorded that never came out. A lot of our stuff has been backed up.
Are you planing on releasing more songs from those unreleased sessions?
Oh yeah. I actually just sent a song from those sessions that’s going to be on a split with a band in Japan. I’m not even sure of the name of the band.
The split with Leatherface was recorded a few months back though, right?
We recorded those songs within a month of when we recorded the songs for No Division . We came home and had a few days off, so we went to the practice and ended up writing 5 songs, and the next day we went into the studio and recorded them.
Since you brought it up, what exactly happened with the band’s break-up last year? I heard you broke up and you were doing your last show at the Hardback Cafe in Gainesville, which you recorded and released as Live at the Hardback .
We actually did break up. We completely called it quits. To make a long story short, the whole reason we did break up was because we saw our friendships drifting apart, and to us it was more important to remain friends. We were friends before we were a band. I mean, it’s just a band. It’s so much more important to keep the bond before the band. That’s what makes the band what it is anyway. We had to take a break. I mean, we were on the road for like a year straight and we just had to get away from each other. We all split and did our own thing.
How did you decide on doing one more show after you had already decided to break-up?
We were in Europe when we did our last show, but we didn’t want the band to die there. So we just decided to do one more show at the Hardback and that would be it. No fucking around, that’s it. So we just decided we’d do our last show at the Hardback ’cause that’s where it’s gotta be. Before we got back together, we started hanging out, not even playing or even talking about the band. We just all came back into town around the same time after going our separate ways. We went out and played snooker, played pool, had some beers, and just shot the shit for a while and spent some time catching up. Something happened where we just all got completely lit up again. We wanted to practice once before the show, and we ended up writing four songs. Then we just decided it was time to pull our heads out of our asses and do what we love to do. We kinda put our friendship back together, and since that was the deciding factor for breaking up, we knew it would work.
So, you’re on Some Records now. They’ve already released a split with HWM and Six Going On Seven and your full-length, No Division . How did you hook up with them?
We had a recording session where we just demoed some new songs. Then we sent it out to friends and other people we thought would be into it. We know Six Going On Seven. We’d done a lot of shows with them and we’re friends. So we just wanted to see what the guys at Some thought about it, and they totally dug it. Those guys are awesome people.
They also seem to take their time and concentrate on each release instead of just signing a ton of bands. A lot of the indie labels are also doing distros now, so I’m sure that takes a lot out of them.
That’s what’s awesome about them, they’re not a distro or anything else. They’re just a label and they completely focus on the bands. We love putting out records with whoever we can. We have a lot of friends we work with, like the people at No Idea. They fuckin’ rule, but they’re always moving and have a lot going on. They’ve put out a ridiculous amount of stuff, like 12 or 13 things, this year already. They never stop. We’re just at a point where we want a label that can totally focus on us.
So, Walter from Quicksand produced the new record?
Yeah he hung out with us and produced the album. He’s awesome to work with. I mean, you know his history. He’s been in so many bands. So many fucking amazing bands. He’s just got a really great spirit with tons of energy. He’s willing to dedicate everything into a project if he’s into it. From being in so many different bands and playing so many different styles of music he’s just got an incredible ear. He was a really big help in the studio. He’s a really big influence.
Were you into Gorilla Biscuits or Quicksand?
Oh yeah! So it was pretty insane to meet him, first of all. Then getting over from being like “Holy shit! This is Walter from Gorilla Biscuits,” to being like “OK, it’s Wally.” Now he just comes down to Florida in his Adidas and flip flops and just hangs out.
The record is amazing, especially the production and mixing of it. What would you say is the biggest difference between the way new record was made and the way the old ones were made?
The vocals are a lot cleaner and a lot stronger in a lot of areas. I think mainly because we had more time to work on them, more then we used to have. For all of our other sessions we would just go in and sing the whole record. Up there, we had days to rest and heal in-between.
So, what’s up next for HWM?
Road warriors all over, but I don’t think we’ll break-up after this one. We’re a little more prepared. We’re meeting up with Leatherface in San Diego and doing that tour. Then we’ll come home for a few days and leave for Japan and then we’re stopping in Hawaii on our way home. Then we’ll come home for a week or so. Next I think the plan is to go to the UK for 10 days. Then we’ll take a ferry down to Paris and do the mainland for 3 weeks. Then we’ll do a few weeks here, and then we’ll rest.
Have you been to Japan before?
Are you psyched to be going?
Oh yeah. I’ve never been there or Hawaii.
For those who don’t know already, you’re in a side project with Chris and two other people called Rumbleseat. You’ve already done two 7-inches with them. What’s happening with that?
Well, it’s Samantha, Chris, and myself. We had our friend Bill drumming with us for awhile, but now the drumming’s not happening. We’re just keeping it acoustic for now. We’ve recorded 16 or 17 songs.
Are you going to release a full-length?
Yeah. Definitely. Some time down the road. Right now it’s so hard because Chris and I are always out of town and Sam is going to school. It’s great. Chris just comes over and sits on the porch, and we’ll play and hang out. It’s kinda like country shit.
Are you into a lot of country?
I think Credence Clearwater Revival is probably my favorite all time band. They were just amazing.