Hot Hot Heat
May 11, 4pm
"I think the connotations of warmth roll off the tongue; it's kind of neat," says Hot Hot Heat's bassist, Dustin Hawthorne, of his band's devastatingly accurate moniker. "But half the time when I tell people, they think it's 'Ha Ha Hee.'"
Laugh if you want, my friends, but these Canadians drip sweat and energy from their guitars with an intensity that is not funny, but still fun, like passing out in a sauna. Their totally rocking guitars and drums (Dante Decaro and Paul Hawley, respectively) will make you dance your ass off, while purveying thick, dark riffs that brood humidly, a la The Cure and early U2. Steve Bays, the band's vocalist and keyboard player, emits explosive jitters, yelps, and screams washed in nervous energy. It's catchy, it's well written and complex, and it's hot white hot.
Even better, it's all meant to show you a good time. Since releasing a great EP on Sub Pop last month, Hot Hot Heat has been preparing for their forthcoming full-length, writing new songs and becoming more comfortable in their stewing mix of catchy, complex punk and steamily anthemic melodies. Coincidentally, they say their fans have actually helped them in refining their songwriting. According to Bays, "Basically, we've just been practicing our asses off and playing a ton of live shows; I think that affects the songwriting, because you can see how the crowd always reacts to different riffs. If you're a comedian, and it's obvious what jokes go over well, and people are falling off their seats laughing, you're going to say, 'Okay, I'm going to tell more jokes about taxi drivers. When you're playing a show, there are some parts or vibes that go over really well, so you take that into consideration when you're writing new material."
While Hot Hot Heat is a great, dance-y band, unlike a lot of scissory post-punk dance bands, they're really melodic--a k.o. combo of smart pop constraints and punk energy. They're not following a blueprint, but they do recognize the glue that's binding all the good, more rhythmic art punk these days. Says Bays, "We're a party band at heart; originally, we just wanted to do parties and have fun. I'd like to see more bands like !!!, or the early U2 stuff. I'm sure you've noticed that with The Strokes and White Stripes, it's interesting to see rock bands like that get accepted into the mainstream; it trickles down into the underground a bit, and it's okay to be excited and dance again."