With a fantastic new record now on store shelves (Future Breeds) and a new record label to boot, Vancouver band Hot Hot Heat are gearing up for what will surely be a busy couple of years ahead of them.
With previous opening slots for bands as diverse as Weezer and The Black Eyed Peas under their belts in addition to an upcoming gig opening for Stone Temple Pilots, the group’s post-punk synth-heavy sound has had little problem finding an audience to date.
Future Breeds is the group’s fourth full-length effort and the follow-up to 2007’s Happiness Ltd, which would prove to be the band’s major label swansong. When asked to sum up their major label experience, Hot Hot Heat vocalist Steve Bays is diplomatic but direct:
“Warner wanted us to do another record,” he says, “but some key people had left the label I didn’t feel like the match was quite right between us anymore.
“I think that I ended up freaking them out a little bit. I told them that I was going to learn how to record our own album and that there wasn’t going to be a radio single to be found on it. I think it kind of gave pause for thought to everyone regarding the whole situation.”
The possibility of being without a label wasn’t a deterrent to the band though. Bays is confident that if music is good, people are going to have the opportunity to hear it, regardless of the label that it is or is not associated with. And actually, when it comes down to it, he feels that labels aren’t quite as big of a deal as some might think they are.
“We were interested in being with a major label for a period of time because we wanted to have the budget to make the records that we wanted to make. There are downsides to the major label life though, like having to have your demos essentially approved before you can move forward with recording.”
The material heard on Future Breeds was born over a period of time that Bays says took “four times as long as Happiness Ltd”. The extra attention given to the group’s latest record ended up making for a much more positive, relaxed atmosphere compared to the some of the band’s previous efforts.
“With this record, we never really felt like the clock was ticking on us. It was a very relaxed atmosphere; I didn’t feel as though people were sitting, looking over my shoulder watching me write songs.”
One aspect of the making of Future Breeds that Bays was particularly fond of was the working relationship that developed with former Age Of Electric guitarist Ryan Dahle. Inadvertently, Dahle ended up serving as a mentor to Bays throughout the making of the record which couldn’t have come at a better time as far as Bays was concerned.
“Although we both had studios in the same building in Vancouver, Ryan and I had never met. I had heard his name thrown around but once we finally had the chance to meet, we instantly clicked and were essentially inseparable from that time on.”
Until the point that Bays and Dahle met, Bays had been keeping the songs that would make up Future Breeds under tight wraps, refusing to let anyone hear what was in the making. But as his friendship with Dahle deepened, Bays shared his material with Dahle which in turn opened up a whole new world of possibilities to the experience.
“Ryan started lending me gear and the making of this record ended up evolving into making a record and experimenting with seemingly endless future possibilities,” Bays says.
Eventually, Bays would hand the task of mixing and mastering Future Breeds over to Dahle and is already looking forward to working with him again.
“Ryan was such a positive influence to have on board. He was totally committed to the project and there 110% of the time. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from him.”
Future Breeds is in stores now via Dine Alone Music in Canada and via Dangerbird in the US.