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Interviews: Hotwire

courtesy photo of Hotwire

Hotwire: Interview
April 2003
By: Linda Spielman

Tracing back the family tree of Southern California's contributions to music is a relative no brainer. The 60's gave us the Beach Boys, the 70's gave us The Eagles, the 80's provided Motley Crue, while in the 90's, bands like No Doubt rose to popularity. So, the question is: where does that leave the new millennium? It is quite an accomplishment for a band in Los Angeles to get signed, even more so than in other cities. The reason is that a majority of musicians with a dream see Southern California as the "goal" in terms of getting discovered. Truth be told, the LA scene is so saturated with "would be stars" that getting recognized in that climate can be pretty hard. So the question still remains, where does that leave us in 2003? I think we may be surprised yet again by one of Southern California's own. The band Hotwire has begun making a name for themselves with their first release on RCA Records, The Routine, which hit the streets on June 3, 2003.

Fusing their musical backgrounds which range from Slayer, Jim Croce, Metallica, Guns & Roses to some of best punk bands of the 80's to even a little Michael Jackson (it was bassist Chris Strauser's first concert) has helped Hotwire to blend edgy, power punk and metal on their freshman effort. As singer Rus Martin explains, "We all have this diverse background. We all knew each other from playing in various bands. We were all hanging out one night back in 1999, and all of us were between bands at the time and decided to try it together as a band." Having local music scene ties and being paired up with producer Matt Hyde (Porno for Pyros & Slayer) made for a perfect combination to bring to life the CD's aggressive, urban, metal/rock sound. The Routine packs quite an aggressive punch for a band from the quiet suburbs of Los Angeles.

With most newly signed bands, the label wins out in terms of what they want and what they see as the final product. However, in the case of Hotwire, very little of their souls were sold to ensure this was a product they themselves were happy to be releasing. With Martin on vocals/guitar, Gabe Garcia on guitars, Brian Borg on drums and Chris Strauser on bass, and Hyde steering the ship, the band's song integrity was maintained throughout the CD. As Martin recalls, the focus of the album was never lost or questioned throughout the recording process. And as for the give and take involved with bands and labels on their first album, he is also quick to point out, "Our producer Matt Hyde, number one--- set us apart with the creative control on the album. We all went in for three weeks preproduction to record the demo tracks for the CD, saw and discussed things we wanted to change and or fine-tune. RCA was great about letting us make creative decisions along with Matt's guidance for this CD." And as Garcia is quick to add, "Musically, it's a displacement of energy, an evolutionary, bouncing-off-each-other process. We have a chemistry where the sum is greater than its parts."

The whole idea of the "bouncing-off-each-other" process is something that starts very early on with the songs Hotwire as a whole write. Martin compares it to the building of the Frankenstein monster. Each member from the inception of the songs has input into all aspects of what the final product should and will sound like, compared to one primary writer and visionary having all control. "Our songs reincarnate themselves many times over before we are actually satisfied with it as a band. Rarely are any of our songs kept in the original state from when we bring them into rehearsal to when we finally record the track," as Martin adds.

Hotwire's "Frankenstein" offers many levels to their capabilities as one of the hottest new bands out there. While not out to make any political impact, they do believe in being goal-oriented. However, the CD's ever changing musical formula has been made to do one thing: entertain music fans. One of the most interesting tracks is undoubtedly Invisible. Listening to it is like reading from someone's very bizarre, twisted journal. You can't believe what you are reading and you know you shouldn't be reading it, but it pulls you in makes you feel for them nevertheless. Other tracks such as Neuro Girl, Nice Profile and Say What You Mean blend an undeniably punk, metal sound with strong lyrics and underlying melodies.

So, where does one showcase their new album and talent? The members of Hotwire are no strangers to the road, having toured with Kitty, Hoobastank and Wu Tang Clan in the past. However, the band has just been added to the "golden grail" of all rock tours, Ozzfest 2003. The band will be touring throughout the summer with the 'fest playing on the second stage. And as many hopeful artists would dream, being added to the lineup is an honor. "I've known Sharon Osbourne for a few years. She is a great lady. She is exactly the way you see her on TV. It's going to be fun to see her this summer," as Martin notes. Once Ozzfest wraps up, the band will embark on a European tour in support of The Routine.