It would be fair to say Hastings trio HOTWAX are kicking up something of a buzz right now. It’s pretty easy to see why, too. A scuzzy, fuzzy, attitude-packed trio, they cut through the noise like a hot battle-axe through butter. Check out the latest cover story for our New Music Friday playlist edit The Cut.
Words: Steven Loftin.
Photos: Jennifer McCord.
Some bands ooze cool. HotWax are one such group, and the hotly-tipped Hastings trio have the tunes to boot. Still in their late teens, they already have a built-up wealth of musical chops and attitude, which are now coming pieced together on their debut EP, ‘A Thousand Times’.
Formed by vocalist and guitarist Tallulah and Lola in school, after various iterations of the band came and went, HotWax landed with Alfie on drums. Bringing together a sea of influences from the classic (Nirvana, Hole) to the psychedelic (King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard), HotWax are an amalgamation that equally lashes ferocious riffs as they do bounding grooves – that’s not to mention that live they’re an even bigger force to be reckoned with. So much so, in fact, they’re joining indie icons The Strokes at their massive All Points East show this summer.
Hi HotWax, how’s your day going?
Tallulah: We’re just recording at the moment. So we’re in the studio.
What have you got cooking?
T: The next EP!
Blimey, you don’t hang around. So, how did you all meet?
T: I met Lola in secondary school in, like, Year 7? We formed a band with these two other girls because there was a competition to support Ratboy on the pier here. Our music teacher put us together, as we weren’t super close then. But we formed this band, and then we became really good friends. That band ended when we were 15, and I decided to start singing, and then we changed to HotWax. We met Alfie in music college when we were 17, and he was 19 in Brighton. So it’s all through school.
What made you want to carry on after that first band dissolved?
Lola: It was that we really wanted to play in a band. We weren’t necessarily into the same music. There was a group of kids that hung out in the music room – and there were not many – so then we found each other.
T: Yes, just like four people or something? So it was meeting someone who actually wants to do that and being like, ‘Wow!’ That’s kind of how it happened.
What was that spark between you?
T: I think me and Lola have always written well together. It’s always felt good playing together and being partners in music. We’ve had loads of drummers, but I don’t know exactly what it is; we just all get on very well. And Alfie is an amazing drummer; he’s not like a crazy testosterone-y [drummer]. For our band, it doesn’t work – and we’ve had that.
L: We’ve gone through completely different lineups. We’re finally at a good mixture of influences and different roles – everyone has a role, which I think is needed.
Who has what role, then?
L: I’d say Tallulah has the creative vision; she writes the lyrics and does the covers and designs and comes up with the emotions behind things. I write a lot of the riffs and the musical direction. And then Alfie glues it all together – and also stops me and Tallulah from going crazy!
How has the vision for the band changed as you’ve grown?
L: I’ve always thought we’ve been a weird band that people aren’t going to… like, we’ll have people that follow us in the local scene, but to have a lot of people have faith in us to put us on some of their lineups we’re doing like All Points East, and then to be signed too. And we’ve had a few radio plays that’s [shown that] maybe we do appeal to more of a wider audience, which is nice because I think music has changed so much in the last few years. There are so many bands that are getting chances to have their music heard by everyone, and that’s exciting.
T: The vision for the band has always been the same for me and Lola. We’ve always had an idea of exactly how we want everything to sound and how we want it to look. I don’t think that’s changed since being signed and everything. We’ve always stayed true to ourselves and also all had our individuality – we all dress kind of differently. It’s true to ourselves.
What was it about being in a band that was so attractive to you?
L: I’m not sure what it was. We both used to play guitar in our bedrooms all the time from when we were, like, eight or nine. And we also have musical families as well, so it’s just a normal thing. It wasn’t being in a band so much as it was just being able to play with someone.
T: We would look up to older people we know who are in bands, but it’s just that having someone to play music with is the best thing.
“We don’t want to follow the same pattern every time. We want to try and write something new”Tallulah Sim-Savage
How have you developed HotWax since those early days?
L: We’ve got various singles we put out on Spotify independently, [but] when we got to this EP, we wrote that just before we signed to Marathon. ‘A Thousand Times’ is a song that we’ve had since we started. That’s more psyche [influenced].
T: And less vocals as well. When we started, it was a lot of instrumental because I was really shy about singing.
L: The interesting thing with our sound is we try not to follow too many of the most obvious structures and have different parts. With this EP, all the songs are quite different and are their own thing, which I think is important.
T: We don’t want to follow the same pattern every time. We want to try and write something new.
Given how young you were when you started writing, how do you look back at those tracks now?
T: Some of them we’ve dropped obviously because we’re like, ‘Oh my god, that was badly written’. But some of them have a special charm about them, and that’s why we love ‘A Thousand Times’, because even though we were new to it, and we’ve now been writing songs for like four/three years at this point, it just feels the older songs are special in a way. When we were younger, and we wrote songs, we didn’t overthink it at all.
L: We’re definitely a massive live band as well. That’s always been the most important thing, playing live, so when it comes to recording, we always try to experiment so we can also play them live. We’ve played most of the songs live on the EP except one before we’ve put it out.
Speaking of playing live – you have some massive shows booked for this year. What is it about playing live that you love so much?
L: It’s taken off a bit recently; we’ve suddenly we’ve got so many gigs booked in. We don’t have any days off where we’re not gigging at the moment or doing band stuff now for a couple of months, so that’s exciting. It’s just building it up and seeing the reactions from people. Doing gigs in places that we haven’t gigged before is interesting because we always have a new crowd of people that are into it. I think people are always surprised. Someone said to us, your songs live, have such a different feel, and that that’s really important. You can listen to our recordings, but I think it’s even better seeing us live.
T: Definitely, playing live is my favourite thing to do ever. It’s such a special feeling that you can’t get any other way. It gives you this confidence because you have to be so vulnerable.
What inspires you in the idea of putting on a show?
T: Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Karen O really inspire me as a front woman. I’ve seen them live recently, but it’s not the same as how they used to be, so I watch all the YouTube Live videos, and that is like, wow, to me.
L: I think YouTube. Obviously, you can’t beat going to your gigs, but it’s so cool to be able to watch old footage.
T: For my 14th birthday, me and Lola went to see Starcrawler, and I’d never heard of them, but I just searched up gigs that were on my birthday, and [Arrow DeWilde] on stage is amazing.
How has your focus changed since you began?
L: When we first ever played, we didn’t know that we would even get to play gigs. We just started playing gigs, and it kind of just naturally happened, and before we knew it, we were just gigging all the time. It just all happened really quickly, the signing and everything. We didn’t think we’d get signed for years and years, but now this is what we want to do. We’ve got to do it. We always wanted music to be our lives; we just didn’t know how or when that was gonna happen. But now we’re 100% sure this is what we can do.
What do you reckon it is people love about HotWax?
T: People always say that when they see us, they feel like they’ve gone back in time or they feel like they’re young again, but it’s also younger people.
L: I think a lot of people like us because we’re not one of those bands that sound like they’ve been taken out of the 90s or the 80s. That’s cool, but with us – this is going to sound big-headed – but we’ve taken all the bits of a band that’s timeless and then turned it into something new. I think there’s only so far you can go with making new music until you have to look back. Without those bands, there wouldn’t be new bands like us. ■
HotWax’s debut EP ‘A Thousand Times’ is out now. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.