Hot Water Music
I interviewed Hot Water Music before an amazing show with Elliott. HWM's music, like Avail's songs, made me realize that punk still means something. Talking to guitarist Chris Wollard only cemented that belief. I don't put stock in horoscopes, but I've saved mine from the next day because it summarizes how I feel about the interview in a lot of ways: "The spiritual arena takes precedence after yesterday's main event. Recapture the sacredness in everyday routines and rituals. Don't take loved ones for granted."
One of the first things I wanted to ask you about was the Pegboy sticker in the photo that's in the liner notes to "Finding the Rhythms." Are you guys big Pegboy fans?
Chris: It's kind of hard not to be, right? They're a great band and Naked Raygun was a great band. We got to play with them a long time ago. They're great guys, very cool, and very down for hanging out. They're very friendly people.
I've only seen them once and Larry accidentally punched me in the nose.
Chris: So you're not a big fan.
Oh, I'm a huge fan. I bought him a shot afterward to say thanks. Anyway, I first got into you guys through the Leatherface split and then got everything I could find. The thing that really grabbed me about the music was this sense of optimism that runs through all the songs.
Chris: I don't think it's necessarily anything we really try to put into our music. It's just the way we try to live. We always try to find the good in a situation. We try to find our way through it, so obviously that's what would come out in a song, you know, trying to find what will save us.
Take "Our Own Way." I thought about my life and nights when I was walking home alone and singing to myself and it reminded me of times when singing along seemed like the only thing that would keep me going.
Chris: It's actually a song about me and my old lady. It's a song about us two. It's not really a song about being alone. It's about not paying attention to the rest of the world. It's about living our lives together, the way that we want to, and fuck everybody. Let it roll right off you. That's what that's about, but I know what you're saying.
It sounds similar to what I get from other songs because it sounds like they're about a really tight community.
Chris: Yeah, it is. That's the way our band works. We won't do this band unless we're all good friends. That's the way we live. We have a family and it's a very big family, like Leatherface, Ann Beretta, Avail. These are our friends, these are our brothers, these are our sisters and this is the way we live. I mean, we're on the road for half the year, at least. These are the people we live with. These are the people we rely on to help us out. That is totally it and that's what I'm saying. We don't really try to put anything through the songs except for our everyday philosophies and our everyday lives. That's what it is. It's our family. We are our family and optimism is the way we try and look at things. We try not to get down and depressed about everything. We try to find the way out.
Yeah, and your songs seem political, but only in the sense that they're personal politics. It's not like you're singing "Fuck the government."
Chris: Yeah, it's our personal politics. We write about what pisses us off and we write about what we love and sometimes that gets into politics and sometimes it has nothing to do with it, but that's totally what it is. It's our personal philosophies. This is our image of our life.
I'm really glad to hear you talking about bands like Ann Beretta and Avail. Ann Beretta's "Bitter Tongues" still blows me away.
Chris: They're a great band. We've known them for a while, from when they were in Inquisition, and they're a great fucking band. I just heard their new stuff and it's awesome. They just did a couple of new songs for some comps. They just keep getting better and better. They're a great band.
Going back to your friendship as a band, I had heard that Hot Water Music actually broke up for a few months.
Chris: Yeah, we broke up and that's why we broke up. We went on the road for too long. I mean, we were gone for 8 months, 8 1/2 months, something like that, on and off. We lost our home lives and we were just getting really irritable and bitter. After that long, you kind of start getting sick of people and when a problem comes up, you don't really want to talk to these people about it because you see them every day and you just want to get away and deal with your problems and you can't do that. We started fighting a lot, arguing all the time. We were getting up onstage and singing about everything we were just talking about, but we'd get done and we'd be arguing and not happy and not living what we were singing about. So we were like, "This is bullshit. This is total bullshit for us to get up there and pretend anything. So fuck this. It's over."
So you broke up instead of being hypocrites.
Chris: Yeah. We were like, "I don't want to sing songs that I'm not sure we all are behind." So we totally broke up. We finished the tour - we were in Europe, we had to finish the tour - so we just finished that, cancelled everything else, came back home and we didn't talk to each other for like three months. We had one final show. We started practicing for that and hanging out. We all had done a lot of soul-searching and got happier with ourselves so that when we saw each other, we were getting along again. We all understood each other, we all understood our place and it just seemed kind of obvious that we were ready to be a band again.
It almost sounds like you split up so you could stay friends.
Chris: Yeah, that's the thing. This band started as a friendship and it's not going to continue if it's not a friendship. That's totally what it is. We had to keep being friends and we knew that if we kept being a band, we would end up hating each other forever. So we were like, "Fuck this." It's not that important, you know? It's really not that important. It's not more important than our friendship, so we cut it off.
All of this stuff seems tied together and this seems to tie back into the lyrics. To me at least, it seems like a lot of your lyrics are more old school - there's a lot more about unity and changing yourself and keeping yourself strong so you can change the world.
Chris: Well, that's what we grew up with. I mean, it's not necessarily what we're trying to do. We're just singing the words that we know in the way that we know how to say them. We're not trying to sugarcoat anything or act tough or angry, or anything. We're just singing what we feel like singing, what makes sense, what helps us out. And it does all tie together because it's all about our lives. Every song is a different aspect of our lives. It's a storyboard of the last five years. It definitely ties together. We got from song to song because of the song before it. It's a story. It's all linked together. It might sound, lyrically, like it's a little older. I don't know. They're just the words that make sense, I think, to the ideas.
It isn't like you're saying "Drugs are bad." It seems like you're just suggesting that people keep their minds and eyes and hearts open.
Chris: Yeah. I don't think I should be telling anybody to do what I do or anything. Do what makes you happy. Do what's good for you. Follow your path and find what you are, find what makes you happy, find your place.
In contrast, the music is really complex. It sounds like you change time signatures a lot; this isn't just 4/4 stuff.
Chris: Yeah. Jason and George grew up playing jazz together. That's how they know each other, so we use that as a foundation for everything. What's the point of writing a record that we've already written? We always try to challenge ourselves. We always try. Maybe it's not mindblowing and maybe it doesn't open any new doors. It's all been done before, definitely, but we're trying to challenge ourselves to do what works for us and keep it interesting for us, you know, keep it real and keep it urgent. We don't play any songs that we're lyrically or musically bored with. They're all gone. We don't ever play them anymore. If it doesn't mean anything anymore, then we don't play it. We're always trying to move forward. We're always trying to go through what's new, what's urgent now.
And you keep getting better as you keep doing it because you get more practice. So there's a background in jazz; it also sounds like there's one in old school punk.
Chris: Yeah, me and Chuck are just rock 'n' roll punk rock guitar players. It's weird. It's a very strange thing sometimes, just this straightforward stuff up front and these fucking jazz guys tearing it up behind us. It's definitely cool to be able to play with different people like that.
I'm starting to understand why I like you guys, because about all I've been into recently is bebop jazz and old school punk. How do you go about putting those styles together?
Chris: It used to be like a typical band - well, it wasn't too typical because everyone was writing songs - but somebody would bring in a complete song and then the band would make it their own. Now, we don't even try that. We really don't even let each other do that. Now we go to practice 5 days a week, 3 or 4 hours at a time, and just jam. We just all let each other do our own things. Nobody is telling anybody "This is the guitar part," or "This is the beat." It's "This is an idea, why don't we just fuck around with it and see if it goes anywhere." If it does, we just keep pounding it and we'll do it for months, changing these songs over and over. We demo them and listen to the demo, and keep in mind this is all without vocals, and we just keep evolving the songs and anything that doesn't explode in our faces, we toss out immediately. We don't even want to deal with it. That's how we do it now. We all just talk and say, "Where do we want to go with this, what are we all thinking for this song?" Sometimes, we'll even try to do a song about something lyrically and we'll keep that in mind when we're doing the music. We'll keep the lyrics in mind, the ideas, and try to set some moods in there.
So do you go into a practice with an idea or do you just let it evolve?
Chris: Everything. Every one of us will write stuff on guitar or sometimes one of us will just be standing there when we're taking a break and we'll be tooling around on our guitar and that'll be a song and sometimes at shows, we'll be messing around before the show and that'll become a song. It comes from everywhere. Sometimes it's planned and sometimes it just happens out of nowhere.
Does it ever work in reverse, starting off with lyrics and then going to music?
Chris: We've done that to a limited extent. There's definitely been a few times when we've been working on something and one of us would say, "I'm thinking about this," and then we'll work the music around that idea from the beginning, but you do have to have something to go off of, a first note. We try to make sure it's always different. We don't want to have a formula for writing songs. We just want to write songs, and really good songs. I want it to be different every time, all of us do. We're trying to write songs in as many different ways as we can and break that formula down and just throw it to the fucking ground, throw everything to the fucking ground - song structures, everything. Who cares? Who cares what you're supposed to do. Let's just do what we want to do. Let's do what sounds good to us, what means something to us.
What moves you.
Chris: Yeah. That's how we write songs.
Going back to the sense of community, from everything I've heard, it sounds like Gainesville is this really tight-knit community.
Chris: It's a really small town. About a third of the total population there is students and it's a little teeny town and it's all really condensed. The outskirts might be the residents and families and stuff, but the core of the city is the students. We're all packed into a couple of miles. All these bands, all these artists, all of our friends, we're all packed into the same place. You live there for a year and you'll be able to walk a block and see 10 people you know. Everybody hangs out at the same places, everybody knows each other. It's like any small town, it's just that there's a shitload of fucking punk rockers there. It's a really small town and in any town that's that small, there's always going to be a huge sense of community because it is. It's your community. It's very urgent. It's a small town and everything that happens affects you directly. It's not a big city where shit is going on across town. It's in your front yard every day, so there's definitely a huge sense of community and it comes through in everybody's songs. All the bands and all the artists, everybody. You definitely know. You go into town and you know the scene. You can feel it, you can hear it when people talk. It's awesome. It's why we moved there. We're not from there, we moved there. None of us are even from Florida, but we met around Tampa. All of our families live around there, like south of Tampa. A half hour south of St. Pete is where we're all from. That's where we all met. I met those guys and then two or three months later after I met them, we were like, "Let's move to Gainesville." We had two different bands at that point and the scene was dead where we were. I had been going to Gainesville for a long time, I loved it, I knew the scene, I knew the community, I knew the vibe. We were all just like, "Yeah, let's go, let's try to do some music, let's really try it." So we moved to Gainesville and that's the reason.
Do you think Gainesville affects your music?
Chris: Totally. There's songs about what we were just talking about. There's songs about our community. There's a lot of songs about small town politics and the way it affects you. I'd rather not say which songs, I'd rather that just be evident, but it totally does. Any community affects what you're going to do. New York, crazy town and all the bands are really intense, really powerful and pounding the shit out of you. Out here, it's sunny and beautiful and there's a smooth thing going out here.
Either that or you get the cloth jacket emo boys.
Chris: Yeah. In general, there are always exceptions, but you can totally tell.
So the region helps determine the sound.
Chris: It's definitely a factor. It's not the only factor, but it's a factor, definitely. I mean, if you move to fucking Costa Rica for a year, you're going to make a pretty mellow album. It's just the way it happens. Your environment is a very big factor, definitely.
Going back to what you said when we were talking about "Our Own Way," it sounds like you want to let people get their own meaning.
Chris: We leave it open. Exactly. That's the thing. I don't know if it's really on purpose, but most of our songs are not like, "Here's the problem and here's the solution." Most of the time, you don't even know what the hell we're talking about because we're not really talking about the problem, we're talking about how we're dealing with it and how we're thinking and what we're feeling at this moment, so yeah, they're always open to everything. There are very few songs of ours that you could tell me what it's about and be right. There's very few songs. You can have an idea, like the feeling that's going on, like this song is about heartbreak or anger or whatever. That's what I always like when I listen to bands. I like being able to relate to stuff. I like being able to put myself in the record so that probably has a lot to do with why we do that.
Yeah, and you also take on the big concepts like unity and solidarity.
Chris: Yeah. Sometimes I feel like unity, like that song "At the End of a Gun," the chorus of that song is "Unify, unify." I was sitting there, writing that, and I wrote it down on the paper but I didn't really plan on keeping it that way. I just wanted something that went with that idea and I wrote that down to keep it in my memory. I was just writing ideas down, and the more I thought about it, it seemed kind of cheesy. I mean, how many people have fucking said that? Unite! It's so drawn out. Well, that's what the fuck I wanted to say. That was a big thing for that album for me, like with the lyrics with "No Division." I didn't want any bullshit. Why overcomplicate something if you don't have to? If you want to, that's cool, but if you can say it in a word, and if you can say it in a note, let's do that. Let's make it clear this time. Let's just write, very clearly, what the fuck's going on.
That's one of the things I liked. You all seem like you're wearing your hearts on your sleeves.
Chris: Yeah. That's it. That's what I wanted to do. The thing for me was when I listened to the old albums we did, I hear parts of songs that just exploded in my face and I can't believe we did that and then we go into this breakdown that didn't need to be there at all or this thing that just doesn't do anything and it's just there to be like, "Oooh, check this out!" Whatever. I wanted to take all that out. I wanted it to be urgent and simple, so you know what the fuck we're talking about and there's no question. Just a simple album for us. Obviously, there's some crazy stuff for us, like especially for me, those are some of the most complicated guitar parts I've ever done. It isn't really that complicated, but for me it is. The song structures and the lyrical ideas and the way it got put together, I was definitely pushing for something a little more simple, a little more in your face. I'm still working on that. I'm still trying to get the album that we'll be remembered for and I don't know if we've done that yet and I'll never know until years down the road, but I'm still trying to do it. I'm still trying to make a really important album. I want it to have everything that I love about punk rock and rock and roll - just in your face, kicking ass. That's what I'm trying to do still. It's something that hopefully hasn't been done too much before and that sounds like us. I still want to do an album that defines our band and I don't know if we've done it, but we were trying to do that with "No Division."
So what was working with Walter from Gorilla Biscuits and Quicksand like?
Chris: What do you think?
I'd guess it'd be pretty incredible, but I don't know the guy.
Chris: Yeah, he's a cool motherfucker. He's a funny guy. He produced the album but he didn't really do it in the traditional sense of how the big business guys talk about it. Producing, you think he came to practice every day and helped write the songs. He showed up at the studio and he had heard demos of some of the songs and he helped us. He didn't try to change anything about it or tell us what wasn't working or anything like that. He was there to make sure we did it as good as we could and that's what he helped us out with. He kept our spirits up and made us do the vocals over and over until it was as fucking good as we could do it and that's what was so awesome about him. He's got a very good outlook on life. He's one of those dudes that when he's around you, you know it. He just has this persona. He's a very positive guy. He'll keep you from arguing, he'll keep you focused, keep you working on what you need to be working on. That was incredible. I would love to do it again with him because he was just such a good person to have in that kind of situation.
Like I said, the BYO Leatherface split was my introduction to you guys. How did that happen?
Chris: I don't know how I worked it out, but we did a cover of a Leatherface song, "Springtime," and they were broken up so we didn't really think too much about it. We recorded it for a benefit comp. that we weren't going to make any money off of, but I heard they got back together. So I was like, "I really don't want to piss these guys off." I mean, we did the song because we like these guys, I don't want them to be fucking pissed. I had Var from No Idea track down Frankie's phone number and I called him up like a million times and finally got ahold of him, and I was like, "Listen, we covered one of your songs, we're not going to make any money off of it, it's a benefit, the only thing I can do is send you some copies. I can't give you any money because we're not going to make any money." He was like, "Oh cool, what song?" I said it was "Springtime" and he said, "Oh, that's fucking brilliant! You totally have my blessing." He had never heard of us or anything. I was like, "I heard you guys were back together, are you going to come to America?" He said no, and I was like, "We do all right in America, why don't you guys come over and tour with us? We'll make sure that everything goes really well." I had also heard they were on BYO, so I was like, "You've got to come to America if you're going to be on BYO, you have to support the record." He was like, "We'll call BYO and if they know you guys and think it's a good idea, then Leatherface is going to do it." There was the tour, right there. I called BYO and they thought it was a good idea and I asked them about doing a split to help the tour out. I was talking about a 7" and then they were like, "We're thinking about doing this series of 12" splits." I was like, "We're working on an album right now, we really don't have enough songs," and they told us if we could write enough then they'd do that. I really thought it was a good idea. I always think it's a good idea to do a split for the tour. It's something you can remember. You've got a piece of wax there.
Plus, you've got something for the merch table to help pay for gas and food and stuff.
Chris: Yeah, and it's always helpful in that regard, but more, it's a slab of wax that commemorates that tour. It's solid. It'll always be there. So I was like, "Let's fucking do this." How many chances do you get to do a split with Leatherface? How awesome is that? It just happened. We did the split, we did the tour. Next month, we're going to be in Europe and do a couple of shows with them. They're just fucking awesome guys. They're just so cool. We're talking about doing another split. They're just so great. And that's how it happened. It made sense so it happened. They needed to come over here, we wanted them to come over and we wanted to do it with them, we wanted to do a split and if we can do it right now, then let's do it. It happened so quick, and that's my favorite record that I've ever been on. I get to look at it, and I'm like "Leatherface and Hot Water Music, holy shit." That's cool as fuck.
It always seems like the stuff that means the most comes together fast.
Chris: Yeah, that's the thing. It makes fucking sense. It fits in, totally.
So do you see any similarities between HWM and Leatherface?
Chris: I see tons. The reason we get along is because we're very similar people. We're very serious about what we do. This is our life. We've dedicated everything to this. This is true for most punk bands, definitely. It's no joke. I mean, for the first few years, you're out there busting your fucking ass, starving and losing jobs and losing girlfriends and losing your house. You have to be serious if you're going to keep doing it. Most of the bands that keep really true to why they started, that's always a factor of why they break up. Panthro U.K. United 13, a great band from Gainesville, they just broke up for not too different reasons. That tears up a lot of bands. You have to have solidarity. In order to sacrifice what you have to sacrifice, you have to have some kind of solidarity in your band or else you're not going to be able to do it because you're going to go fucking crazy. Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this if we're not all together?
I know where you're coming from. I got out of punk in the mid '90s because it all seemed boring - just Epitaph chain wallet bands playing the forbidden beat. It was bands like you and Lifetime and Cap'n Jazz that got me back into it. It seemed like you guys really meant it, like the spirit that I loved was still there.
Chris: That whole time, I wasn't really in the same place you were. There have always been bands that kept me into it and they don't always get looked at because people don't want to hear something new. People want to hear something they're comfortable with, something they already know how to dance to. They don't want to figure out anything new. Now there's a lot of bands and there's a lot of weird shit going on right now. A lot of better bands in punk rock are doing really fucking crazy shit, like Braid. They did so much bizarre stuff, and Elliott, when Elliott plays, you just kind of drop your jaw, like "What in the hell?"
Yeah, I've got "U.S. Songs" in my bag right now.
Chris: Wait until you hear their new album. It's absolutely ridiculous. Wait until you hear the new Leatherface album. These are the bands that you watch live and you're just like, "That is a band. That is the epitome of what that means." These bands are bands. They're not a punk band, they're just exactly what a band is supposed to be, whatever that means and it's different all the time, but they are it. This is a band and this is their music. That's it. I want to have my ass kicked all over the place when I listen to a record. I want to be like, "What the fuck?"
So it sounds like you like records that are so good that they make you wonder why you play music.
Chris: Yeah, totally. That's why we're all listening to it. We want to hear something amazing. That's why we both like punk rock because even if the music or the lyrics aren't amazing, there's an energy and vibe there that you just can't fucking deny, when it's done right, when the people are really doing it.
And their hearts are in it. I read an essay a few years back written by a girl in high school who described ripping through books, magazines, records, looking for anything that might make her feel like her life wasn't meaningless and like she wasn't dying every day. I know that's why I got into punk, but why did you get into it?
Chris: I don't know. It's probably that adolescent horror. Who am I? Why am I so angry about everything? Why does nothing make sense? Why is it all terrible? I was looking for answers. I don't know if I found any answers in punk rock necessarily by listening to it, but the music led me to a lifestyle and the lifestyle has given me tons of answers. I'm definitely not a Christian, I'm not really religious in any way that you would think, but I'm on a spiritual journey. I'm always trying to find myself and always looking for my answers, always trying to better myself, and this has always been the path. There's always been the most down to earth people, the people who are most like me who are also on this journey and trying to make everything better. That's why I got into it. There are people willing to fight.
People willing to fight for the same reasons and goals.
Chris: Yeah. It's very accepting. It's a very accepting lifestyle for everything different. It's not a fucking slogan. It's not "Celebrate diversity!" It's not a fucking slogan. It is celebrating diversity, it is the fucking mutts of society. There's the fucking dogs and the assholes and the jerks that got picked on. That's what it is. It is diversity and that's fucking amazing to me.
Yeah, it's not the kind of backpack you wear.
Chris: Yeah, and it's not a fucking slogan. God knows people made it into quite a few bumper stickers, but that's not what it is. That's why I got into punk rock. That's why I fucking love it. It had answers in the lifestyle to calm down what is hurting me.
I know what you mean. I got my answers from Bob Mould's Flying V.
Chris: Right. Totally.
What would you be doing if you weren't in punk rock?
Chris: If I hadn't found punk rock - I don't know. Obviously, if I hadn't found punk rock, I wouldn't be in this band. I've always wanted to teach. I want to be a teacher. I quit school. I'm done with it until this band is over. I don't have time, but I love kids. I have a 4-year-old kid, and I love that experience. There's a lot of that in punk rock. Everybody's teaching everybody something, maybe not even by words, but everybody's learning something.
How does being a parent affect your music?
Chris: It definitely affects it. It affects everything. I take everything a lot more seriously. Everything you do, you have to kind of step out and ask if you should be doing this, you know, like you have a kid looking at you and I've got to make sure he's not mindfucked by the time he's 10 years old, angry youth, hating his parents, confused about what's right and wrong. It's a big obligation so it affects everything. I mean, I have to be there for him and I love that kid. I've got to be there for him and I've got to show him what I know. It affects everything. It affects everything about the band, my lyrics, my lifestyle, everything that I do, the way I live, everything. It's an amazing thing.
You seem really committed - to your band, your music, everything.
Chris: I believe in what I do. I don't believe I'm the greatest guy or anything, but I believe in what I do, in what I say and fight for. I believe in my friends and I believe in what they say and fight for. I'm scared. I'm very scared of a life with no passion. I'm terrified of that. It just fucking terrifies me and it's always terrified me. The big city is gray - gray sidewalk, gray street, gray buildings, gray suits, no fucking color in the people's skin, black hair - no color, no life, no passion, just the fucking grind and that fucking terrifies me. I can't even think of that. It's just terrible to me, so I believe in what I'm doing. I believe in finding the passion and keeping it going and keeping the fire burning in every way. If you let it die somewhere, it's just going to die everywhere.
It doesn't sound like you have any choice to do anything besides what you're doing.
Chris: Yeah, it fucking scares the shit out of me. People working and working to fucking make money and make money all the time so that someday when they're 65 years old, they can have some fun and I don't believe in that. I don't believe in that work ethic, I don't fucking believe in that lifestyle and I never have. It just never made any sense to me. Why am I not living right now? I'm going to fucking live and that's it and that's I want to do. I want to live to live.
"Don't want to live my life today for when I'm 65."
Is there anything more that you wish you were doing with the band?
Chris: We never had a plan. We never had a goal. Of course there's short-term goals. When we first started and we were in Gainesville, we were like, "Man, it would be cool if we could someday do a record on No Idea." There's always those. That's the thing. If you set a road ahead of yourself that has no detours, then you're not really living. You're not leaving yourself any room to go where you feel like you should be going. It's the same thing in writing songs. If you have a structure that you're doing, well then you're not really letting yourself write songs. Just let it be what it is. Let's go and do this band and every day we'll make a new decision. Every day my life will change and every day our band will change and every day we'll get closer to something else. Whatever that is. Let's just let that be what it is. Let's let this band be what it is, let's let the songs be what they are and let's let us be what be we are.
It sounds like the music you listened to really influenced you personally.
Chris: 7 Seconds rocked me out of my mind.
"Walk Together, Rock Together"?
Chris: Yeah, and "The Crew." Oh man. It's such simple songs, the same beat for every song. The Forbidden Beat, as you say.
It's actually an old Bad Religion song title.
Yeah, I think it's off "Suffer." It just describes what most So Cal punk bands are trying to do. If it wasn't for tiltWheel, there wouldn't be much to do here.
Chris: Yeah, totally.
I'm actually heading to Japan with them.
Chris: There's such great people over there. It's crazy over there. The shows are really small but you don't mind. It's the same thing as here. It's a selective group. Our first tour in Japan was like our first tour here. We had a couple of shows where there was definitely a big crowd of people and some shows where you play to like 35 people, like a house show and then a club show. It's awesome because the people at those shows want to be there. They're there not because their friends are going - nobody's friends are there, there's only 35 people there. They're there because they want to fucking be there. It's not the place to be. If there's 35 people from a whole city at your show, it's definitely not the place to be. Even in Tokyo, that was our biggest show and we had 200 people there both nights, but when you think about how big that city is, give me a fucking break, but that's not why you're doing it. You're there to play to those people, the people who say, "I want to be here and I want to see this. I love this." There was a kid in Tokyo, the second show, right against the stage in a wheelchair. He was right up in the front, people smashing him to bits and he's in a wheelchair. The whole time, he had his fist in the air, just screaming and yelling, just loving it. That's passion. That's why we're all doing this. This is the stuff that keeps you going whether you're in a band or not. That's the kind of energy, that's the spark, that's what it's all about. It was amazing. It's like that in Europe too. It's like when you first got into punk rock. You had this kind of idealism, like this is so big and so amazing. At that time, it was pretty big and amazing, but it wasn't everything that you thought it was. It's kind of grown into that because it really is a spectacular thing. You've got people dropping out of the scene left and right but you've got tons more coming in all the time. You can go pretty much anywhere in the world right now and people are pretty much going to know what you're talking about, whether they even understand your language. It's so amazing to be able to see that because 15 years ago because when you had this idealism and people are like, "Whatever," and your parents are like, "Fuck you and your hair color, turn down your record player," and you're like, "You don't understand, this is so amazing!" And it is. Now, you get to see that. You go across the world and a 12-year-old kid in Japan comes to your show or a 40-year-old guy in Germany. I don't think it's turned into anything we thought it could be, yet, but it's reaffirming. I'm not saying we've turned it into anything because I don't think we have, but it keeps the fire burning to go around the world and see different people who you never would have any contact with if it wasn't for punk rock or this music or feeling. It's totally reaffirming to be able to do that. I don't think it's turned into anything. I don't think we've gotten that much accomplished. Yet.
It's a common language.
Chris: Yeah. You finally get to see that there really are people everywhere feeling like you felt when you were a kid, like totally lost and not understanding the ways of the modern world, like go, go, go, work, work, work, money, money, money. That despair you feel when you're like, "I don't want to go to college if it means I'm going to be wearing a suit the rest of my life." There's people everywhere that feel that and you're not the outsider that you thought you were. That's what I'm talking about.
It's a place where everybody belongs.
Chris: It's a place that we get to live. That's awesome. That's amazing shit.
Yeah, because I don't know about you, but when I was in high school, I was an outcast. I read books at lunch.
Chris: Yeah, everybody was.
Yeah, I had like one friend at first and he turned me on to Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys and we went to go skate and we were our only friends. We listened to records and that's all there was. I think every punk has some story like that.
Chris: It's great man. I just love it.
What's the best thing for you about being in Hot Water Music?
Chris: Lately, like the last year, we've been touring a lot. We're always gone. Because of that, we've been making enough money that when I go home, I don't have to work for money. That could be taken in the way that we're making money and that's the best thing it's done for me, but that's not what I'm talking about and I don't think it's the best thing and I don't think there's any best thing, but it is awesome. I've been playing guitar since I was 8. I'm 24 now, and it's totally awesome that I found that, that I was given that gift by my family, they got me a guitar. That love and what I've found in punk rock that has kept me doing this, and in music in general, it's now supporting me. I don't think that's the most amazing thing, but it's so cool. The whole time you're growing up, you're like "I don't believe in this society. I don't believe in this way of life. I don't want to be a suit, I don't want to be a number, I don't want to be stereotyped, I don't want to be classified." It's been said so many times. Lately, I'm not. I don't work for anybody. I'm not in the system. I'm in a band and that's my life and all my friends are in this with me. They're all in it with me. My family is in it with me. We're all supporting each other. I think that's just fucking great, to be able to dive into this lifestyle where everybody's like, "Someday, you're going to have to get a job. Someday, you're going to have to shed this problem with authority and whatever the hell is wrong with you. You're going to have to shape up or ship out." No, I don't have to. Fuck off. It's taken me a long fucking time, but I don't have to. I don't have to be back in the kitchen right now and I probably will be back in a kitchen by the time this band is done, I'm going to have to get a job somewhere, but for now, fuck off. I am right. This can be done. I'm proving that right now and I get to show this to my kid. My kid's looking at me not like, "Oh, my dad broke his back in a factory." I'm from Flint, Michigan.
General Motors town.
Chris: Yeah. Both my grandparents worked at Buick their whole lives. That's not the example I'm setting for my kid. I'm setting the example of you do whatever the fuck you want and if you really do it right and you really believe in it and you give it all you've got, it could work out. Be whatever the fuck you want to be. And that's awesome.
It's about the best thing you could give a kid.
Chris: That's why I'm saying that I don't know if there is any great thing that punk rock gave me or that I gave to punk rock or whatever, but that's an amazing gift that I get to give to my kid and live. I just get to do what I fucking want to do and that's awesome.
That's a beautiful fucking thing.
Chris: It is a beautiful fucking thing, it totally is.