OK, so you know how we’re always telling you not to believe everything the U.K. press tells you? If you haven’t heeded our advice before, it might be time to start now. It seems some of the hacks across the pond had been sounding the death knell for our country’s favourite new wave party punkers, Hot Hot Heat. Not surprising since the Victoria quartet have been showered by U.K. praise since the release of 2002’s Make Up The Breakdown, but it seems the inevitable second phase to the build-em-up-chop-’em-down model started even before the Hot Hots released their much anticipated sophomore record.
So we’re here to clear a few things up.
While going stir-crazy waiting for their new album, Elevator, to drop, the boys started playing some warm-up gigs to test the new songs, including a few secret gigs in Vancouver advertised only on their website.
“We did a week here in B.C.,” says lead singer and keyboard player, Steve Bays. “Like seven shows in a row just to test the waters. I’m glad we got that out of our system. I think they were good shows overall, but it was a bit sketchy at first cuz it had been so long. Mainly we were just testing out the new ones and seeing how many new songs we could get away with live.”
They also went over to the U.K. to do similar, unadvertised “secret” gigs in small clubs. And that’s where the press got the idea that perhaps the end of Hot Hot Heat was near.
“I know a lot of bands are hesitant to play new material before an album comes out, so we were kind of going out on a limb playing nine new songs,” Bays says. “But the shows went really well. We carefully put new songs in between recognizable songs so they wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb or anything. We kept the audience dancing and stuff. The whole point of the tour was to just not advertise it at all. We just sent out a newsletter to our fans and I think they all sold out.
“The point was I didn’t really want anybody to ‘cover’ the shows and be like, ‘Well, Hot Hot Heat are back and they’re playing surprisingly small venues so it looks like things aren’t going so well’ or whatever. That happened in one interview in the U.K., which totally pissed me off because the whole point was for it to be a secret show through our newsletter. The U.K. shows sold out in like four hours and we didn’t have to advertise so we were like, ‘OK good, we haven’t completely lost it.’ And then when we got to the shows and literally, the front two rows were filled with cameras and stuff. And meanwhile we just wanted to test out the new material. But at least they still care, I guess.”
Leave it to the U.K. press to find some drama where there ain’t any, but if they were unsure of the future of the Hot Hots before, starting this week any uncertainty will be completely wiped away. Having just released Elevator this past Tuesday, the boys are set to kick off a major tour that will eventually see them return to the U.K. and play more fittingly, larger-sized venues, thank you very much.
And if anyone was worried about whether HHH would crack under the pressure of writing as good an album as Make Up, a quick listen of Elevator’s first two tracks, “Running Out Of Time” and (first single) “Goodnight Goodnight,” will immediately start that wallflower ass of yours movin’ and shakin’. Other songs like “You Owe Me An IOU” definitely hint at the spastic energy of most Make Up songs, but it is Elevator’s less dance punk songs that will set Hot Hot Heat apart from the rest of their contemporaries. Make no mistake – this is the sound of Hot Hot Heat trying to distance themselves from the dance punk movement and, y’know, those Scottish dudes with skinny ties. And trust us – at this point, that’s a good thing.