Hot Hot Heat - Interview

05 May 2005

Hot Hot Heat

Hot Hot Heat - Interview

Hot Hot Heat - Interview caught up with Steve Bays, singer of Hot Hot Heat before their show in Leeds.

How is Leeds treating you, have you had a nice day?

Yeah, my girlfriend’s parents came to take me out, my girlfriend actually lives in Manchester but her parents are from Giggleswick which is pretty close to Leeds. They took me out for Yorkshire puddings at lunchtime. Yea they were pretty nice! It would have been nice to go into the country but we just didn’t have enough time. We leave tonight for the show in Birmingham.

How long are you over in the UK?

We have done 5 or 6 shows so far and they have all been amazing. It’s a kind of warm up tour for us, just to get a bit of a buzz going seeing as the album has just come out. We did the same thing in Canada, we did a small tour in January then went back and did a larger tour with The Futureheads. They were some of the biggest shows that we have played, it was really cool.

How did the Futureheads thing come about?

Well I went to see them in LA and I really loved them. I think I e mailed them in person because I was such a big fan. Things just developed from there!

How are we, British fans, treating you?

The UK has always been so good to us. We were almost spoiled last time. It was so good, I actually felt a little nervous to be coming back because I didn’t know what to expect and how people were going to take us this time around.

Well, you haven’t started on the same level as your last tour but you have still got a lot of the same fans.

Yeah that’s how it feels. I think what made us a little nervous was that with UK music the public are so used to bands working so quickly and turning out new albums at such a fast rate but we took basically a year off to write & record Elevator. We have actually written a load of material for the next album because we don’t want to take that kind of time off when it comes to the next release.

So did you get any time off between records.

Well, we finished touring Make up the Breakdown, I think we had 2 weeks off and then we went straight back at it fulltime. We just spent a long time over it, actually we only spent just over 2 months in the studio recording so that wasn’t actually much time at all but it was the writing that we took time over. We wrote a bunch of stuff then scrapped it and rewrote it. We just kept on recording demos; I have a home studio so we spent a lot of time in there. We wrote about 25 demos and some of those songs we did multiple times. We have a new wave/punk rock demo version of Pickin’ It Up, a song on the album but I think we might release that as a b side. It’s so different to the album version people have to hear it and how it has evolved.

Do you prefer the dirtier demo or the cleaner produced version?

Well I like the newer version a lot more because it’s so perfect but I like the flawed version too because you can hear the room we recorded in, there’s mistakes in my voice, the guitar is kinda sloppy and stuff. I didn’t want the final record, that was going on the album, to say that because I feel like we are a really tight live band and I wanted the album to reflect that. But, saying that, it is still nice to hear the sloppy demo.

The new album just came out over here

Yeah. It’s really weird; people must have downloaded it or something because everyone knows the songs and are singing along to it. One song that we do is called Jingle Jangle and it’s just me and a keyboard without the rest of the band for the first minute or so and I swear you can hear all of the audience singing along to it. I was thinking to myself, hmm the album has been out for three days and people are singing along already, there’s something not quite right here! I don’t mind people downloading our music though. I guess most people download stuff and if they like it then they go and buy it. I guess that’s what I do; I like to have a proper CD with the artwork and stuff. I was really pleasantly surprised with our first show, we played Nottingham and it was insane, it was the best way to start a tour.

Did it compare to your Canadian shows?

Yeah it did! But some of the shows over there were to like 2000 plus people. Over in Canada, because the UK got into our band pretty early on before most people in Canada I guess they kind of felt it was quite strange for them not to support a band from Canada straight away, so with this album they got behind us as soon as we got on to the road. Plus the whole thing was really well promoted and I have to give credit to The Futureheads because I’m sure word got out that they were so great. Each show got better and better because we watched them play every night and they were always so tight. When you play with a band that you respect musically then it makes you want to challenge yourself more and more. We spent 3 weeks on the road with them, we’ve actually been on tour for about 4 months now though.

Where have you been?

Mainly, around Canada and the USA. We did do the occasional one off show in London and Germany. I’m surprised we have been on tour so long already; it feels like we are only just starting out! Next week is our first week of promotion in London so my brain is telling me I’m not allowed to burn out quite yet. It’s all just been a warm up so far. We are going to have a mental week in London. We have TV things all day and then a show basically every night. At one point we fly from Berlin to do Jules Holland and then we fly back that night to go and do a gig.

Which of your songs sums up your present mood and why?

Last night I felt like Pickin’ It Up, that really sums up my evening. I kind of grew up a lot quicker going on tour. You can go out every night and be obnoxious and rebellious but you kind of get bored of it quite quickly. You have the same conversations over and over with random strangers so I didn’t go out at all last night. At the same time I feel like I’m too young to be growing up, I’m not ready yet! Now in my life I like to get stuff done during the day I like to go and get everything sorted like buying clothes & music plus I also like to experience the city. Anyway there is a line in the song that says I don’t want to trade my sunshine for a cloudy night. By that I meant I didn’t want to trade my mornings that I can really enjoy for an evening out which I wont even remember. All the other guys went out and they partied, someone lost their wallet, just the usual stuff! Whereas I feel rested and healthy but not necessarily satisfied. I guess it will make for a good show though!

You’re obviously a very good musician, what aren’t you so good at?

I wasn’t so good at skate boarding; also my old soccer/football coach told me I was too small to play. It was when I was in 9 th grade and I was really small and skinny and up until that point I had been playing for most of my youth but then he just said I was too small. I loved football.

Do you ever get chance to play now for fun?

No I don’t play at all anymore. We have made a no sports policy in the band because we always injure ourselves. We would always tell Dustin not to skateboard and then he decided to drop off an 8 foot statue, I don’t really know why, I think he was drunk and he thought it would be a really good idea, yeah he broke his elbow and now he listens to us and he doesn’t skate much anymore.

Anything else?

I don’t think I am very good at selling the band. Like on TV interviews I don’t think I’m great at those things. I love being in a band but I’m not great at all the visual stuff like music videos. Actually saying that we just did the video for a single called Middle Of Nowhere, it looks like it is filmed in London but it was actually in Montreal we used old camera from the 60’s and everyone is very stylish and it’s very tasteful, it’s all done in faded colour. Its not done to look retro it just looks like an old film. It’s really naked and almost embarrassing because there are a lot of close-ups and I do a lot of talking in it.

Whatelse are you really passionate about?

Well I love talking, I love one on one conversations. I love movies & documentaries, I can’t get enough of them. They can be on anything! I also love producing. I would love to go down that road in the future.

Who would you like to produce?

Well when we toured with Franz Ferdinand I said I was going to re-mix Take Me Out for them and then they blew up and I kinda backed down from that idea! I would love to work with The Dears but they have their own thing going on and they are very independent and are quite strict who they have working with them. From a producers prospective that is not an easy thing to work with. With production the producer always wants the bands to give them control.

Yea bands always want the freedom though, I’m sure that was the case with you guys?

Dave had worked with the band The Walkmen and they told us he was a total control freak and he won’t listen to you, we kind of felt like we needed that though. Paul & I are so opinionated and set in our ways about what we want we needed someone who we could respect enough and we would both know that we can have our ideas but give final say to Dave. We were in the control room throughout the whole recording and we were giving our own input but Dave worked as a mediator. We definitely contributed a whole load of ideas that Dave wouldn’t have thought about but that also worked that other way and Dave give us loads of ideas that we wouldn’t have ever thought about doing. We have a noisy raw sound but we wanted it to be a big bright pure over the top pop record. If we tried to do that ourselves then it would have been too punk and noisy. Giving up power is a very important part of being in a band. You just have to make sure you give it to the right people. We do the creative part which is the writing, performing and choosing the right directors/producers to collaborate with.

If you were going to create a super group who would be in it?

I would love Barry from the Futureheads singing and on the guitar, I would just sing, the drummer from a band called The Unicorns, I’ve always liked the bassist from Modest Mouse. But really I love all my band mates, I think Paul is a better drummer than anyone else I know. Maybe personality wise I might like someone new for a couple of weeks but that would die off pretty quickly. Musically I am so confident with the band because we are so tight and I think that takes years of getting to know one and others personalities. Now when we play a show I don’t think about the rest of the band once, I can think about what I am doing and interacting with the crowd. With most bands everyone feels the need to check what everyone else is doing and making sure they know what you are doing. I can now shut off all logical concern and it’s all about animal instinct.

Luke replaced Dante, do you have to think about what he is doing?

Well when he first joined Paul & I was a bit anal making sure everything was perfect but he is actually a lot tighter live musician than Dante ever was so we don’t need to worry about him

Is everything cool with Luke?

Yea, it actually took us like a year and a half to find a replacement. We couldn’t find the right person, everyone we met had good qualities but not everything. It’s definitely a personality thing. We were flying all over the place, having people being flown over to us for auditions, we went out to shows every night. We asked everyone we knew. Eventually a mutual friend told us about Luke, we just hit it off as soon as we met him.

How do you unwind?

I like to wonder around, and I’m a big fan of red wine. One on one conversations and red wine!

What's your idea of hell?

On a personal level I’m worried about going deaf; because I want to produce in the future hearing is really important! I usually play 2 or 3 songs and then pull out the earplugs!

What’s next for you guys?

We have to finish the UK then we go into Europe then we have a big US tour then we have Australia & Japan then we go back to Canada. We are doing Glastonbury, Leeds & Reading plus all the big European festivals.


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