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Q&A: Hot Water Music And Joyce Manor Talk Punk And Share Advice

By Gianna Hughes on May 30, 2012


Q&A: Hot Water Music And Joyce Manor Talk Punk And Share Advice

When I was a high school student, I would regularly make the hour-and-a-half drive out to The Glasshouse in Pomona for shows. Most of the time, I would bum rides off friends because I had yet to receive my driver’s license. But that particular venue was one of the best in Southern California for punk, hardcore and post-hardcore concerts. Where there was a will, there was a way, and I was damn determined.

When I arrived at The Glasshouse this past Saturday two hours before the Hot Water Music headlining concert was scheduled to begin, I quickly realized not much had changed since I was 15. Fans were already crowding near the front door with a line stretching down the street like an anxious snake. Hot Water Music was headlining a show that up-and-coming bands like Touché Amoré and Joyce Manor were set to open. And those waiting in line were eager to see all acts, because when you love punk, you live it. And waiting in line to make sure you have the best spot is only a small price to pay.

Punk is a culture,” said Lauren Ortiz, the first person waiting in line at the venue. “We all get together for every show. No violence. No fighting. We just love the music. It makes us all think that we can do better in our lives.” And I believed him. Along with a friend, he had already been waiting in line for an hour after driving up from Temecula. And, believe it or not, he was more excited to see the opening acts. After an eight-year hiatus, punk pioneers Hot Water Music certainly have some things to learn from the new guys; and the new guys would be wise to listen to the veterans. But there is always the glue that holds them all together: the punk mentality.

After meeting bassist Jason Black from Hot Water Music, I walked across the venue floor before it had been littered with plastic cups and an orphan shoe or two. When we reached the back patio, I introduced him to Joyce Manor’s Barry Johnson, provided the two of them with a few basic guidelines, and let them do the talking. What ensued was the sharing of information about their new records, advice to each other, and recommendations for what to bring on tour. And as I listened in, I quickly realized that punk isn’t going anywhere; it’s in the fabric of our American mindset. It’s a way of life we all embrace, in one way or another.

Check out the discussion between Hot Water Music and Joyce Manor below. And while you're at it, grab the free download of Joyce Manor's "Bride of Usher."

Barry Johnson of Joyce Manor: I don’t feel like I need any advice.

Jason Black of Hot Water Music: Yeah? How are you guys doing?

Johnson: We’re doing exceptionally well. This is our first time really touring. We’ve gone up the West Coast for like two weeks. But with this, we’re doing six weeks. Then we’re home for a little bit, and then we’re doing three weeks. And then we’re going to Europe. It’s our first time touring, and I’m really enjoying it.

Black: Have any of you guys been to the East Coast before?

Johnson: It’s our first time as a band, and I’ve never been there. I’ve been to Europe with my family. My family is from there.

Black: Where at?

Johnson: My mom was born in England. My real dad was born in England. My stepdad is Irish. His family is from Ireland, but half of them live in Spain now, so we go there a lot. I’ve been to a lot of Europe, but always with my family—which is not as great as touring.

Black: Oh, yeah. It’s not the same at all.

Johnson: Yeah, you never get to do what you want to do.You always have to agree. But this will be my first time going there with friends.

Black: Cool. When do you guys go?

Johnson: September.

Black: Nice. For a month or so?

Johnson: No, it’s fucking short. Only two weeks.

Black: Oh, that’s good. It gets kind of weird after a month. You feel isolated as fuck. You’re stuck.

Johnson: Especially in places that don’t speak the language.

Black: It gets rough. We’ve gone before without touring with anyone else. A lot of times we’ll just go for a weekend of festivals, and sometimes it gets spun into 10 days. There’s no other band to go hang out with. And then you get really fucking tripped out because you have a choice of three people to talk to.

Johnson: And you sit in the van with them all the time. We’re touring with a couple bands from over there who are from England and Germany. Actually, fuck that. Do you have any advice?

Black: Do everything as cheap as you can. Always. The other thing I would say is don’t over-tour; don’t over-expose. The situation you guys are in where you’re trying to establish yourselves, you’re going to have to do some of that. That’s the one thing that’s burned us out twice: repetitive touring. If you sit back and think, “Why the fuck are we on tour right now?” that’s not a good feeling. Not at all.

Johnson: We’ve been this lineup for about two years, and of those two years we’ve probably done three months of touring—not a lot. I don’t foresee us getting to a point where we’re on tour for most of the year.

Black: It’s better that way. Well, I think it is. If you get some killer opportunities, take them. Because why not? But, at the same time, overdoing it takes the fun out of it for everybody.

Johnson: Thank you. Any advice for touring? I’ve found that bringing extra socks is always a good idea.

Black: Extra socks and extra underwear. Spare shoes in case it rains.

Johnson: Also, never unplug your phone from your charger. I also found it’s better to read in the van than to listen to music. I get sick of music; there’s always music. We listen to podcasts; those are awesome. But with the whole seven-hour drive being punk, metal, annoying indie rock, you’re like, “Fuck. Shut up.”

Let’s talk about the recording process for our new albums.

Black: We changed producers this time around [for Exister]. We went to Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins and worked with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore.

Johnson: He’s done all the Rise Against stuff. And a ton of Epitaph bands.

Black: Right. He played drums in Black Flag. He’s a killer guy. We had a rad time. A big difference for us was how they operate that studio. They have two A rooms the whole time, so everyone is recording constantly. Like drums would get done and I would do bass on top of them. That was killer because it kept the momentum up. And we did the record much more quickly than we would have otherwise.

Johnson: Did you record live?

Black: No. Everything was layered on top of each other. But it felt like it was because everything went so quickly. What about you guys?

Johnson: Our process [for Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired] was a nightmare, actually.


Black: Where did you record at?

Johnson: This guy, Jack Shirley, who is in the Bay Area recorded us. He’s in a band called Comadre. He did it all on two-inch tape. He’s a really cool guy and super affordable; it came out really good. Basically, I went to Spain with my family when we had a handful of songs written. And while I was in Spain, I finished some up and worked on a new one. And when I came home two weeks before we were supposed to go into the studio, everyone was like, “Let’s just practice twice. Let’s just get the songs down to where we know them, but they’re not tight yet. We’ll do that in the studio.” You know the first time you play a song, to you it’s the best it’s ever sounded? I wanted to get that in the take. But it doesn’t translate; it just sounds like you haven’t practiced.

So things were really locked in, and there were some parts that were a little too dissonant. We wanted a punk-as-fuck record. And all the songs were a lot faster, and just different. And I was sick too. And I sing. The record came out horrible; we hated it. So I decided to go back up there in a month and redo the vocals. When we were home for that month, I ended up rewriting about 80 percent of the record and changing things completely. Songs were just not on it. So then we went up there for three days and rerecorded the whole record. It was a total nightmare.

Black: They usually are. This was the first time we made one that wasn’t. It’s a pain in the ass.

Johnson: For our first record, everything was so easy. It was exactly what I wanted. But with this one, nothing could go right.

Black: The first time we ever recorded a record was really weird. Pro Tools didn’t exist yet. We did it in a bunch of different studios.

Johnson: When you first started recording, was it all to tape too?

Black: Yeah, it was a combination of tape and ADAT depending on what we did. It was a lot of ADAT because it’s cheaper. It didn’t really facilitate the kind of editing that Pro Tools does, but it was a little easier because you wouldn’t have to record over and over and over again. I think No Division (1999) was the first time we went to a studio and actually recorded the whole record. For other records, some was done at some dude’s house, some was done in this studio, and the drums were done in a drum room, but everything else was just done in somebody’s apartment. So, comparatively, this was rad.

Johnson: Any advice on how to stay true to yourself when reaching new levels of success?

Black: Don’t think about it. I guess that means don’t sell out?

Johnson: That’s always been a no-brainer. If you’ve been in punk for a long time, that’s like day one.

Black: Right. You just do what you do. When people say “You’ve sold out,” I’m always like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just doing what I want to do. If you don’t like it, don’t come.” The answer to that: don’t buy the record, don’t come to the show. No big deal.

Johnson: That would be stupid to say you don’t care about people liking your songs or your records. You do care.

Black: That’s absolutely true. But at the same time, you can’t do something creative and put it out into the world and get too hung up on it. The only reaction you’re ever going to get is an opinion. It’s not like a product that works well or doesn’t work well. It’s not like, “This car is great. It never breaks down.” It’s like, “I don’t like your record.” I can’t argue with you on that. That’s your personal taste. 

Joyce Manor, "Bride of Usher"
by FILTER Magazine

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