Rock trio HotWax: “After Covid, the groups say to themselves: we’ll just do what we want” | Pop and rock

From West Sussex
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The members of the rock trio Hot wax attest that their 2023 has been “crazy”. At the start of the year, they had never even gone on tour. When I speak to them, they have just returned from a month playing in the United States. “It blew us away,” enthuses singer and guitarist Tallulah Sim-Savage. “Even though the journeys were very long, it was like watching a 12-hour movie with interesting scenery.”

They spent the summer playing festivals. They went to Italy at the request of One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson for his Festival far from home, played Reading and Leeds and – most surreal of all for HotWax – supported Yeah Yeah Yeahs at All Points East. “My favorite band,” Sim-Savage agrees. “It was my dream band to support, so I was terrified, but I really let go and enjoyed the experience.” The feeling seemed mutual: when Yeah Yeah Yeah played Maps, Karen O dedicated it to them.

They released two acclaimed EPs and were hailed as part of a new wave of incendiary guitar bands, including Spiritual cramp, Lambrini Girls And Comforter. If you’re looking for a vague clue to their angry sound, Sim-Savage once credited the sound of his mother playing. Hole lives through it as “the thing that changed everything”.

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Things seem to be moving very quickly, but as bassist Lola Sam points out, it’s been a long time coming. She and Sim-Savage have been in bands together since they were 13; they launched HotWax two years later, in 2019. They played around their native Hastings, performing largely improvised and instrumental sets of what Sam calls “insane psychedelia” (the kind of music, Sim-Savage suggests, that you could do if “you’re 15 and you’re in Covid and you smoke a lot of weed”), before their style changes. “Everything is more organized now,” says Sam. “It’s more structured. It became heavier and more pop at the same time.

They found their drummer, Alfie Sayer, while studying at the Bimm School of Music in Brighton. His recruitment aside, their tenure there doesn’t seem to have been a resounding success: Sam lasted one tenure (“it was really, like, jazz boys who wanted to play like that”). They dropped out, released singles and played “anywhere we wanted”, but according to Sim-Savage, they “didn’t really know what we were doing” until they met their manager, who told them suggested to “actually try and do it right”, surprised the group so much that Sim-Savage initially turned her down. “We never did this to really do well or anything,” she said, frowning. “It’s just something we really, really enjoyed doing.”

And yet they clearly do very well, offering a fierce counterargument to the long-held wisdom that noisy guitar rock has had its day. “I think it has something to do with Covid,” says Sam. “Bands were booming, then had to stop and decide to really go for it. People have been stuck for so long. Now they say, no, we’ll just do what we want to do when we get the chance.

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