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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Live Your Heart and Never Follow

Despite the announcement a year ago that Hot Water Music was on an extended break, now the word is that the band is done. This doesn't come as a surprise, but I must stress that just because a band isn't playing together anymore doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I'm sad to see them go, but there is plenty to cherish from their time together as a band.

Hot Water Music was the last band that I decided to devote a full chapter to in Post. At the time, I had No Division, A Flight and a Crash, Never Ender, and Live at the Hardback, in addition to MP3s from various other releases. I knew a little bit about their story and felt they needed some coverage, but I wasn't sure if they deserved a full chapter. After my friend Seth told me, "Hot Water Music saved my life," there wasn't a doubt in my mind about how much I should devote to them.

Out of all the bands that I'm spotlighting with a chapter, Hot Water Music was the most prolific. Six proper albums, two singles collections, one live album, numerous split EPs, 7"s and compilation appearances, there's plenty to comb through. I argue No Division is their best album, but a number of longtime fans I know say either Fuel for the Hate Game or Forever and Counting is the best. Despite listening to of all their records, No Division is the album for me. Regardless, the band wasn't just about music for me and for a lot of people.

I have to be honest: I didn't "get" the band until I saw them live. Though I only saw them once (touring No Division with AFI, Sick of It All and Indecision), that was enough to understand. What I first passed off as a lot of off-key yelling, seeing how intense these guys were made sense. They were playing like it was their last set. They were sincere and played everything with conviction. There was a force to them more than your average shouting hardcore band. There were warm melodies in their songs, but there was a lot of grit too. Seeing all of this in person really changed my mind about the power of hardcore.

Reading the lyrics, I realized how deep these messages were. They were short and simple songs about brotherhood, friendship and understanding. They weren't some rough and tumble youth crew shouting slogans. Where those bands had shortcomings, Hot Water Music moved beyond them.

By coincidence, the only active band that I'm featuring in Post is the one that broke through to the mainstream: Jimmy Eat World. I don't mean to spotlight bands like Braid, the Get Up Kids and Jawbreaker as a pity party; rather, I want to show how important these bands are whether they're together or not. In the case of Hot Water Music, I agree with what No Idea's Var Thelin told me last year: "They gave it their fuckin' all." These guys went through really hard times (going for broke, coming back from tour homeless, enduring physical injuries) but kept going. Though the band broke up following a European tour for Forever and Counting, they regrouped with an stronger fire behind them. Being the band they were, this was even more inspiring.

With our favorite bands, we often don't expect them to end, even after so many years of touring and recording. After growing up on bands that said they would never reunite and would say mean things about their ex-band members, I never bought it whenever the band reunited. These days, the way people tiptoe around matters is saying the band is on "indefinite hiatus." Details often later emerge that the band is finished, but with the exception of At the Drive-In, I haven't heard much mud-slinging. Hot Water Music is ending quietly and in a tactful way. They had definitely given their all and I'm thankful for all the time they were together.

2 comments:

swirly girl said...

E-

This is my favorite post out of all of the ones I've read of your stuff.

Ever.

PAgirly said...

i wasn't fully into hwm until i saw them live either. i was hooked from that day on. i figured this news was coming soon.