“Gainesville punk” is almost its own genre. Perhaps no band embodies that style more and carries more of a weight for the Gainesville scene than Hot Water Music. The punk legends announced this week their signing to Rise Records to record a new full length in winter for a spring release – their first full length since 2004. Among the uproar of surprise the news caused, we reached out to the Hot Water Music camp and got a phone interview with bassist Jason Black to talk about the decision behind signing to Rise and what fans should expect from Hot Water Music in the next year. We might have an interview with Rise Records owner Craig Ericson on Tuesday, so be sure to check back.
Thomas Nassiff: How is Hot Water Music? What’re you guys up to right now?
Jason Black: Right now we’re doing the final OKs on the layout for the new 7”, which should be done this weekend. We’re gearing up for the European tour and working on some new stuff too. Not really too much going on this month though, sort of just kicking back a little.
You guys are releasing a new 2-song 7” in August, what can fans expect?
You know, hopefully everyone likes it. We’re really happy with the songs. We haven’t written in a long time so these were the first two that came out after exchanging ideas. They came together quickly – Chris and Chuck had songs that were almost done already so they brought them to the rest of us and it all just came together real quickly. We’re excited about it.
Hot Water Music is headlining the Fest in October. I know it’s down the road, but how stoked are you guys to be back at the Fest, with that atmosphere in your home town?
I know it’ll be a fun time. We’ve tried to not do it forever, I guess it’s one of those things that we could have played it every year but then it’s not as cool when we do decide to play it. Almost every year Tony [Weinbender, creator of Fest and head of Southern Lovin’ PR at No Idea Records] asked us to play, someone has been gone or not available. So he came up to us almost right after [Fest 9] ended and he was saying how this is the 10th year anniversary and how it might be the last one, so we just decided, “Okay, this is really something we have to do.” Plus for me, it’s easier to play it now since I don’t live there anymore. It’ll be fun to head down there and see some friends and not have any place to park.
You guys picked Rise over a choice of probably any label. What was it about Rise and Craig Ericson that made you choose them?
We definitely talked to a few other labels. We’ve worked with a lot of other people – we’ve done releases, or Chuck has done releases, with Epitaph, Side One Dummy and No Idea. As a band, since we started this we’ve always been interested in working with as many different people as possible. Doing something different definitely factored in, but Craig [Ericson, owners of Rise Records] really wanted to do the record more than anyone else. That’s the number one deciding factor for us, whoever wants to do it most will probably do the best job. When we signed to Epitaph, people freaked out. When we toured with Sick Of It All people freaked out. At this point we expect that reaction from almost any decision we make.
Are there any particular things you feel that Rise can do for you guys that made you choose to release your first full-length back from reunion with them?
To tell you the truth, they just have it going on right now. They’re selling more records than anyone else – not that that’s a giant goal of ours, but it’s not something we don’t want to do. Craig’s a good dude who has been best friends with some of our best friends for a long time. They’re just kind of killing it right now. They’re still kind of fearless with their attitude. A lot of other labels are scaling back and trying to re-evaluate their gameplan where Rise is just trying to keep going and going. For us that’s super important – they’ve weathered the storm when it comes to music sales and they’ve actually managed to get bigger in that time. We sort of just realized that this was such a wild choice we should probably do it. Another thing, like I said earlier, we like doing different things. If we release the record on Epitaph or No Idea, we pretty much have an exact idea of what would happen. We really have no idea what will happen with Rise.
Were you guys wary of any backlash from fans? Were you expecting people to be surprised when you announced the label?
Absolutely, like I said earlier, at this point I expect that for everything we announce. The reaction was actually a little less than I thought – I feel like there isn’t much of a place for that kind of [negative, questioning, etc.] attitude in the scene anymore, it just seems stupid. The best thing for me, actually, was reading the comments on Rise’s Facebook about how bad our band sucks. [Both laugh.] Luckily, and this is sort of what I figured would happen, a lot of people are taking the attitude of, “I don’t really care what label it’s on, at least I get to hear new music from them.” If you’re a fan of our band at this point and you think that since we’re on Rise, we’re going to sound like Attack Attack! then you’re a fucking moron.
I promise this is the last label question. Do you guys have any opinion of some of the other artists on the label?
I mean, yeah. I think Sharks are great, Chuck did a big tour with them and Social Distortion and we got to hang out with them for the first time in Toronto. They have a great live show. Man Overboard and Transit, I like those two bands a lot. There are a couple of bands that I think will be on the label soon that I like. There’s a lot of stuff on there that I’m totally not interested in, but the same can be said for Epitaph and No Idea. That’s the funny thing; people are all like, “How can you sign to this label?” When every label that we’ve been on has bands I love and bands I don’t care for. That’s a sign that the label is doing something right, at least it’s not all the same band.
You guys are going to record the full-length in winter. Have songs been written or is the writing process just going to happen eventually?
Some ideas are definitely kicking around. When we did the songs for the 7” we sort of did a few other songs. But we’re just getting to the point now where we’re really gonna get into it. Everyone’s projects are sort of reaching the point where we’ll have some more free time so we’ll start getting a lot more done in the coming months. I think we’re hoping that we’ll get a lot of writing done on the European tour, but we always say that and it’s tough for us to write on the road. The 7” songs came together easily, so I think having so long away from writing makes it fresh and exciting for us. It’s not like, the touring cycle is over, let’s go write. Everyone really wants to do it.
I guess a question that a lot of people have is whether this is going to be a one-off album. Are you guys taking the reunion a step at a time or are you trying to be back for a while?
We’re definitely putting out a new record and going on tour for it to support the record. It took a long time to figure out and schedule it but we’ve planned it so there’s enough time to do it properly. We scheduled it to be out in the spring so by the time that comes out, Chris and Chuck will have done the cycle on their new records. The Senses Fail plans that I have will be done by then too. We wouldn’t have announced all this if we weren’t planning on supporting the record and giving it a big push. The more we talk about it, the more shows we play and the more songs we write, the more it seems like everyone is all fired up about it.
Sometimes I forget that huge labels (like Rise) have built-in fanbases that will inevitably have strange, dissenting opinions about monumental signings (like HWM). I had to check out the Facebook thread after reading that...and indeed, it is wild.
I've always been a fan of Rise and what Craig does, this is shaking up things. I think Rise's recent signings are shaping the label for the future. Craig is a smart dude and signs acts he can work with and push. I'm stoked.