When post-hardcore torchbearers Hot Water Music called it quits in 2006 via a letter posted on their website, the scene drew a deep breath as it prepared for the void they’d leave behind. Before anyone could exhale, vocalist/guitarist Chris Wollard, bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo emerged from the ashes as The Draft, with smart melodies, gritty vocals and heartfelt lyrics for everyman—a refreshed resemblance to their previous project. That same year, vocalist/guitarist Chuck Ragan surfaced as a solo artist churning out poignant folk tunes, while touring in casual stints across the country. Fans flocked to both ends of the split Hot Water Music legacy like children in a divorce, until the jubilant news of a reconciliation hit the wire in late 2007.
As we gear up in anticipation for the first three confirmed reunion shows of 2008, one being in our own backyard at Starland Ballroom, many questions of what this means for Hot Water Music’s future, as well as The Draft and Chuck Ragan’s solo project, remain up in the air. Here to put to rest any speculations and to talk freely about what has been going on in the Hot Water Music camp is bassist Jason Black.
How has this hiatus been, compared to the hiatus you took 10 years ago?
This was a lot longer, and we really broke up this time. The last one was only a few months, but both of them happened on tour, which is the fucking worst. It’s a really uncomfortable situation when you know that you’re travelling with a person [who] doesn’t want to be there, which in turn, everyone else doesn’t want to be there. We’re all really good friends, so it’s a total nightmare when things deteriorate to that. With the last break we didn’t have anything else going on, and with everyone having their own footing this time around, it’s been better because we don’t have to live and die by these shows. It’s not like we’re ‘getting the band back together,’ it’s more like we’re playing some shows, and then we may play some more shows. I definitely would say we’re not in the hiatus/broken up stage anymore, but I wouldn’t put us back on the active list either. It’s a lot less pressure, and we’re 10 years older than we were then too, so you’d hope that everyone’s a lot more adult about things. (laughs) Both times it happened it’s been necessary. It’s hard to get perspective on your own life when you have to concern yourself with the livelihood of three other people at the same time. So to break out of that, something has to happen every once in a while.
Right. People say being in a band is like being in three relationships at once…
Totally, and then you’re in relationships with whoever they’re in relationships with too; the only reason anyone makes any decisions is because whatever their girlfriend or boyfriend or wife or husband told ’em. I do it, everyone does it. When you come to the table, you’re considering your whole family. So it just gets more and more complicated the older you get. That’s why I think this one will be much better; it’s just much more respectful of what people want to do and don’t want to do, instead of a bunch of kids just being like ‘Hey, fuck you man!’
Did your fans come into play at all in the decision for HWM to play again?
No. (Laughs) It’s totally selfish on our part. (Laughs again) As much as we really appreciate all the fans that supported us, it’s hard enough for us to take the other three people in the band into consideration! No disrespect to any of the fans, they’re the only reason we get to do what we do—if we announced the shows and nobody bought any tickets at all, then we wouldn’t be playing! But if we’re not happy with the situation, that’s the first and foremost thing.
And it was just weird timing. I think with the singles collection being done pretty close to when we were talking about doing shows was the lynchpin—like, okay, we can actually play shows and kind of have a new record. It was more of an event.
Is the compilation happening because of the reunion shows or are the reunion shows happening because of the compilation?
The compilation we had been planning on for a couple years, and with us being so busy with The Draft, and Chuck being so busy with his stuff, neither of us really gave a shit when it came out. No Idea [Records] got it off the back burner and we had just started talking about maybe doing shows, so we tried to line it up. It just feels better to play shows in conjunction with something coming out. Not that there wouldn’t be a purpose to them, but it is definitely nice to have something to push.
What’s the meaning behind the title Till The Wheels Fall Off?
When we were on the indefinite hiatus/break up thing, we basically toured ourselves into the ground. And that title was a good representation of how the band very unceremoniously stopped doing shit; we were just done! It rings true with us doing a few shows again despite what we said we wouldn’t do; it sums up the attitude we used to take with the band, and definitely the attitude we’ll have at these shows as far as doing everything 110 percent.