There are two paths a band can take: The one that adheres to convention or one that defies it.
Hot Hot Heat has always taken the latter, breaking new ground in what is sonically possible
throughout their storied career. When the band formed in 1999 in Victoria, British Columbia,
the musicians were driven to rebel against the norm and create songs that would
generate excitement and energy, while invoking an edgy pop sensibility. The result was
fervent dance rock, the sort of music that impels you to move along with it, and Hot Hot Heat
was at the forefront of what became a massive musical movement in the early ‘00s.
Hot Hot Heat’s new self-titled album, their fifth full-length record, punctuates that career. It’s the
final release from a band that has innovated and explored, reminding the listener of what the
they’ve built since the group unveiled their debut album Make Up The Breakdown in 2002.
Written between 2011 and 2014, the band moved away from the experimental sensibility they
investigated on 2010’s Future Breeds and looked back toward their first two albums for
inspiration. The idea was to be as natural as possible and get in touch with their inherent skill
for songwriting. After penning a batch of songs, the band gathered in 2014 to record the ten
best with Ryan Dahl in Steve and Ryan’s adjoining studios.
“We wanted it to feel cohesive and representative of the aesthetic we were into at that point,”
says Steve, who co-produced the album with Ryan. “We wanted it to feel like it was all the
same album even though it had been written over several years. The songs are not necessarily
the best songs we wrote, but the ten we were the most excited about in the moment. The idea
behind the album was: If you want to try and do something great, it can only be when the
Hot Hot Heat’s signature style pervades the songs, rousing and bursting with infectious
energy. “Kid Who Stays In The Picture,” a song Steve penned about parting ways with a best
friend, is a propulsive, angular indie rock number, while “Pulling Levers” meditates on a
similar subject, reflecting on how you can become so different from someone you’ve known.
“Modern Mind,” a brash, swaggering dance rock song, asks questions about the concept of
the future and presents itself as an ode to art and technology. “Magnitude” draws on the
band’s simpler tendencies, creating what Steve calls a sentimental, pretty song. “The older I
get, the more I like music that is pretty and music that shows vulnerability,” the singer notes.
“I think you can hear that throughout these songs.”
It’s the sort of final album you’d expect from Hot Hot Heat, one that is as pop hook-heavy as
it is edgy and unpredictable. It bookends the band’s career in a way that makes you want to
revisit the entirety of their back catalogue, a reminder of their contribution to the indie rock
music scene that emerged in the early ‘00s and continues today. The musicians, who have
been pursuing other projects for the past few years, will always make music and always invest
in creativity, even if it’s not in this venue. Their career is one that the members of Hot Hot
Heat will always remember as deeply fulfilling.
“To be able to tour from 1999 to 2014 and play hundreds of shows a year was amazing,”
Steve says. “It changed all of our lives. It was the greatest experience I could ever imagine. I
can relate to our fans and I respect our fans. They are the kind of people I’d hang out with.
I’m proud of every single record, and of finding the ground between making it challenging
and fresh, but also not being afraid to be entertaining and put on a crazy show. Every show we
ever did was just a total high energy spectacle, and that’s a great legacy to have.”