Today is the day Hot Water Music fans have waited more than just a few years for. The release of a new album in the form of ‘Exister‘. Back from a break and as fresh as ever, the band have said there was a new found enthousiasm in the studio, and fans seem to be thinking the same way judging by comments since the album has been streaming online. On the eve of it’s release, Cassie Walker caught up with Chris Wollard from the band, who himself was fresh from the studio recording his next Ship Thieves album, and just prior to getting serious in a local pool tournament. Expand this post to take a read and find out how the album came together, and when we might expect them back on our shores to show it off.
How are you?
I’m excellent my voice is a little blown out, I was in the studio all day, but the sun is shinin’ and you know it’s beautiful, I’m having a great day.
Awesome, so what were you working on in the studio?
I was in the studio with my other band the The Ship Thieves today, yeh we just actually finished our second album just a couple of hours ago!
Congratulations! How are you feeling with it all done?
I’m pumped! I’m stoked! I feel like a weight has been lifted off me you know? All year I’ve just been writing so right now I got two albums done and they both come out the same summer and I don’t know, I’m just stoked! I can’t wait to have them both on record, put them on the turntable. You don’t know the final result until it’s on vinyl and I can’t wait for that moment.
Are you the kind of guy who will listen to the final product once you do receive it and appreciate it as the final product or do you listen back and wish you could change parts?
No, I don’t go back and wish it was different because that’s the one moment like ‘If there’s anything that I was going to change, it’s too late now’, you know it’s absolutely too late so I mean it’s just an incredible amount of stress that comes off of you because our work’s done and the lyrics are in and the lay outs done and the mastering’s done and all of the little things that you never think of just stack up and I don’t know, when it comes to my house and I put it on, you know I probably sit there and listen to it five or six times and have a couple beers and just really enjoy it and then I don’t know, the next few days you usually end up playing it for a few friends but after a few days I don’t really go back and ever listen to any more of it. It’s like I take a couple days to celebrate and then it’s ‘OK! What am I working on now? I’ve got new songs to finish you know’.
So when you are working on a new record, do you listen to previous records you’ve made?
Probably not. You know, for me it’s just not very productive to look back too much and that’s just kinda it you know ,I’ve just really settled into a routine where I guess I’m getting kind of old you know, but my lady, she gets up in the morning and goes to work and I get up and make some coffee and (laughing) that sounds so stupid! I sit on the porch with the dogs and just sit there and play guitar and work on songs and I’ve got a bunch of people in the area that I collaborate with and I don’t know, Gainesville’s one of those towns where everybody is in like three bands, so really everyone’s in a band with everyone else, like everybody just works on stuff together. It’s fun, you know. Our sound guy for Hot Water Music, he has this little warehouse studio and we just go in there and get lost for hours, cranking up the amps and seeing what we can do, it’s a lot of fun!
And then you go back home and make dinner and blend into normal life like anyone else.
Yeah, I mean we kind of laugh about it, half laugh, it’s depressing getting old, but we are pretty mellow, you know I have a 16 year old kid and I go to high school football games and right now, it’s Thursday night and this is… god I sound old, it’s Thursday night and that’s the night I go out and have my pool league, so I’m actually standing out the front of the pool hall right now, our league starts in about 20 minutes. It’s my Thursday night out, woohoo!!!
Now I want to talk about ‘Exister’ the new Hot Water Music record, it’s the first release for the band in over 8 years. It has been too long, but I think all that happened in between had to happen for this to be the album it is. It was a rollercoaster that you know better than anyone, how did it feel banding together to write this record?
Well, as far as the record goes it honestly was the most fun I’ve ever had in a studio and it just was a totally awesome experience, I mean listening to Bill Stevenson for so long and getting in the studio and realizing we were connecting on our thoughts and all of us seeing things the same way and after all of these years having the band, all of us in the same room. There was hesitation. Everybody was just like ‘I can’t wait to play this riff for you and see what you do to it, you know it was like that! It was like you… couldn’t wait to get in that room and just make some noise together. When we walked into that studio we all had big smiles on our faces and we just had a blast, we just had an absolute blast and I mean we walked out of the studio talking about when we were going to be able to get in for the next one, I mean it just was awesome.
It just felt like we made it back to where we came from. Like we were making a record because we wanted to, not because anybody else wanted us to, we were in that room because that’s what felt right, you know it was just killer and it’s hard to explain.
That feeling, particularly after so many ups and downs with grudges and regret in between records, it’s great to hear that it was such a positive experience for you all.
You know, you’ve got to have faith in each other to be in a band that lasts for this long, almost 18 years, you’ve really gotta have a lot of faith in each other and you’ve got to have a lot of trust in each other and one of the biggest things to learn is when to give somebody their space to be a person. You just can’t work every day, at some point you’ve got to go home and hang out with your family and you know that moment comes at different times for everybody and luckily we’ve been able to do it so long that we’ve got these connections where we can take those breaks and still know we’re family and we’re still going to be able to come back together. It takes a lot!
18 years and still to make music it’s a massive achievement, especially when you’ve all got so much going on with other projects, I’m sure it’d be easy to get distracted with these other projects.
It’s crazy but we’ve always had a special connection in this band. When we started it we were teenagers and we grew up together, we’ve seen each other go through hell and we’ve all helped each other get through everything and I don’t know, it’s different at that point, isn’t it?
And Hot Water Music is more than just a band, it’s your family now.
Yeh. That’s why we always break up (laughing) it’s why we’re always breaking up. When we start arguing over the band and everybody’s stressed out over business, like we’ve broken up twice and it’s been the same reason both times, it’s like ‘Hey, I don’t want to argue with you all the time, I’m just exhausted. I want to go home’ and we will pick this up some later time. I mean breaking up is the best thing we’ve ever done and we’ve done it twice and it just helps put some perspective on things, like what’s the important thing in this and to us it’s being able to keep doing it together and to give each other room. The long term is always the most important thing, not like ‘oh we have to strike it big’, it’s always been, how do we run the marathon and not the sprint, you know?
So the band breaking up was to keep those friendships more so than disbanding for the music?
Oh god yeah. It’s a hard thing for everyone to understand I’m sure, it’s not the kind of thing that happens every day but I don’t know, sometimes you take a step back just so you can put everything back in it’s perspective you know, like travelling, this sometimes you feel like you’re in a tunnel. It’s always just what’s in front of you and you never are anywhere you know what I mean? Like the world’s just flying by and it’s easy to loose perspective, it really is, and as much as you’re having fun all the time, by the time you get home after a six month tour and your son is like ‘So what happened? Tell me some stories’ you’re like, I can barely even process all that right now, it really scrambles you up, so after 10 years when one guy steps up and says ‘hey I need to go home’ it’s like everybody’s trying not to be that guy that admits that he’s just exhausted, everyone is trying to not be that guy, but as soon as one person says it, it’s like yeah we are all exhausted and we do need to take a break and make sure we’re doing this for the right reason you know.
And talking about that exhaustion, I mean you just said you’ve finished a second record for the year which I’m sure will have it’s own tour, is each project like a break from the other?
I don’t know. For me personally I feel like I’m usually doing my best work when I just keep going and I’m constantly trying to experiment with different kinds of sounds and songs and I’m still a huge music fan too so I’m listening to new records every day and being like ‘that’s fun I’m going to try something like that’. For me I just like to keep busy and keep writing and it’s when I actually take a break that I start stumbling a little bit and you allow yourself to get lazy and you get out of your routine and sometimes it’s hard to get that pen moving on the page, but when it’s just kind of a routine that empty page isn’t as scary to me, you know and it’s more like ‘I’m just going to have some fun writing some songs’ and honestly I probably write more songs that nobody hears than the one’s that they do, I write more bad ones than good ones and I try to have fun with it and I’m still learning, I’m still a student you know?
You consider yourself a student, yet so many people would see you as the principal, Hot Water Music are such a legendary band that will never be forgotten with the story and the punk rock sound and the influence that sound has had on so many bands.
Jeez thanks that’s a sweet thing to say, thank you. You know, like I said we all kind of live in small areas and we’re just links in the chain, we grew up listening punk rock across the board you know, Black Flag, Minor Threat, All, Descendents, we grew up listening to all of that and we’re still singing, it’s nice to be recognized as one of the links in the chain, but that’s all it is. We’re musicians, so when you’re in the back stage after a show with a room full of musicians, the guitars come out and you say ‘what the hell was that thing you did’ and everybody starts sharing ideas and that’s what it’s suppose to be like, you know? It’s supposed to be about connecting so it’s nice to be recognized as a link in the chain.
Absolutely. Thank you so much Chris for producing another amazing Hot Water Music record.
I’m glad you dig it, thanks!
No problems, I will let you get to your pool competition, I don’t want to ruin routine.
Right on, well thanks for taking the time to knock this out, when we’re down there next year come up and say hello and we’ll have a beer.
HOT WATER MUSIC
The new album ‘EXISTER‘
Available today via RISE RECORDS / SHOCK
Available on CD, Digitally & Limited Edition Australian Exclusive Coloured Vinyl
[Order Online Here]