Author Chuck Bukowski probably never imagined Hot Water Music, the title of a collection of his short stories, would become synonymous with the post-hardcore scene. But so it is, thanks to Hot Water Music, the Gainesville, Florida, proto-punk quartet that took its name from Buk's tome and spent the past decade-plus playing some of the most acerbic, arms-around-each-other post-hardcore this side of Fugazi. When HWM singer/guitarist Chuck Ragan jumped ship last year, the remaining three members of HWM (bassist Jason Black, guitarist/singer Chris Wollard, and drummer George Rebelo) put together The Draft with newly enlisted guitarist Todd "Wonderboy" Rockhill. The band's debut CD, In a Million Pieces, was released September 12 on the Epitaph label. New Times talked to Black about starting over, playing happier music, and the likelihood of a Hot Water Music reunion.
New Times: Do you feel like you're starting from scratch again, or are you just picking up where HWM left off?
Jason Black: I would hope to do both. As far as a fan base, we won't be starting from square one, which is positive and negative. I'd love it if people could listen to the new record without associating it with Hot Water.
Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe.
Scheduled to perform on Sunday, September 24
NT: In a Million Pieces is more melodic and straight-ahead than most of your old stuff. Did you consciously write it that way?
Black: It reflects where we are as a band now, so I don't think it was conscious so much as just true to what's happening now and what we like.
NT: You would never hear some of this stuff on a HWM record. There's some ska dabbling on "Let It Go," and was that xylophone on "All We Can Count On"?
Black: It's actually a kids' piano. Yeah, we've started to do some things that we couldn't do before. We're not going to be doing any of the heavier stuff that was happening in Hot Water at the end.
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NT: So no more heavy-handed "Oooooooh, I'm serious and scowling and hardcore"?
Black: (Laughs.) Seriously, musically and aesthetically, Hot Water turned into this kind of über-serious thing after a while, and I really just like this better. It's more melodic, and I guess it's just happier because we are. And don't get me wrong I love Hot Water, it was my life but this is just where we're at.
NT: Would you ever do a legitimate Hot Water Music reunion?
Black: No. I quit officially a while ago, and that's that.