When I caught up with HotWax before their headline gig at The Lexington in April, bassist Lola Sam and vocalist & guitarist Tallulah Sim-Savage both revealed that ‘Rip It Out’ was their favourite track from their upcoming debut EP, A Thousand Times. Today (17th May), the Hastings band have shared their visceral new anthem about contraception, accompanied by a riotous video shot at The Green Door Store in Brighton.
Having just returned from the seaside city after performing multiple shows at The Great Escape Festival, the trio – completed by knockout drummer Alfie Sayers – have been garnering a loyal following on their local live scenes of Hastings and Brighton over the past few years. They have a busy festival season ahead of them, which includes slots at Mad Cool in Madrid and Visions Festival in Hackney, as well as sharing a bill with The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs at All Points East Festival in August. This might seem like an intimidating schedule, but the three teenagers are taking things in their stride.
“We did our first ever mini tour recently, just to get a taste of it,” Tallulah tells me. “We’ve been gigging for years, but we’ve never gone away and played more than three gigs in a row. It was really nice spending time travelling together and bonding. Playing live is our favourite thing ever. I never feel happier than when I’m playing live. We’re just really enjoying everything, it’s so much fun.”
Tallulah and Lola have known each other for years and have the unshakable bond that comes from surviving school together. Tallulah explains that the pair played in a band called The Kids when they were fifteen years old. “I played guitar, Lola played bass and we had a singer and another drummer. When that band ended, we formed HotWax and I decided to sing. I would never sing usually, but I thought ‘I’m just gonna do it’, because we got on really well and we didn’t really have another friend at school to invite into the band.” She laughs at that last part, and I do to. It’s hard to believe that the pair struggled to find friends to play along with them, as they both seem modest, but truly passionate about being in a band making music together.
Drummer Alfie can’t remember a time when he wasn’t playing drums. It seems like an act of serendipity that he met Lola and Tallulah, completing the HotWax line-up. Together, they create the type of guitar music that other bands take years to master. Their sound is raw, but self assured, visceral yet melodic. Each time I’ve seen them play, I’ve felt an overwhelming rush of joy, because I know I’m witnessing something truly special. But maybe I’m just projecting and being sentimental? I wish I’d been in a band like theirs when I was eighteen.
So what influenced HotWax’s sound? Lola says she remembers listening to CDs in the car with her Mum – “stuff like The Beatles, Amy Winehouse and Destiny’s Child” – before she discovered rock music in her early teens. For Tallulah, it began with a love of Lady Gaga, before her Mum played Blondie’s Parallel Lines album at a family party, and she became totally obsessed with it. “I was listening to that album for a whole month,” she smiles. “I remember feeling kind of guilty about it in a way, that rock music was ‘bad’ – I don’t know why? I was quite an anxious child. I was like, ‘Oh, this feels really bad, but it’s really good!’. That’s probably when I got into heavier music and was inspired to play electric guitar, rather than acoustic.”
Through these eclectic influences and an endearing rebellious streak, Lola and Tallulah wrote the eponymous track from their upcoming debut EP, A Thousand Times. “The reason why we called the song and the EP ‘A Thousand Times’ is because Lola and I have gone through complicated relationships together, but it’s also about being just everything to each other,” Tallulah explains. “It’s sort of like we’ve had this argument a thousand times. It’s all about growing up and the things that come with that. Dramas, arguments, heartbreaks, everything. It’s celebrating us growing older and still being friends.”
The track is now a staple in the band’s live shows, but it took a while for it to sound the way that it does now. “It took us ages to record it,” Lola explains. “We didn’t record it until Alfie was in the band. The music video for it is made up of clips from then until now. So it’s like this photography project. With the song and this EP, it has been a collective effort from us and our producer as well. I’m really happy with it. I think that we went into it with the view of ‘this is what it sounds like now, live’, then we when you go into studio, you have more options of where the song can go and it can end up sounding different, but in a good way.” The band worked alongside Kid Kapichi’s Ben Beetham to bring their record to life. “He’s a great producer, he was so enthusiastic,” Alfie adds.
With their debut EP released in just a few days (May 19th), some stellar live shows lined up, and their recent signing to Transgressive Records, I ask how the band are feeling about these impressive feats. Tallulah is quick to respond: “It’s weird. It’s all I’ve ever wanted and I’m so happy, but everything’s happened so quickly. It’s kind of hard to process it and not to feel the pressure a bit. We’re writing our second EP and it’s like ‘Oh, people are actually going to hear these songs now,’ it’s a weird shift from just being a small town band. Yeah, it’s quite overwhelming sometimes.”
“It’s not just us that we have to impress anymore,” Lola adds. I caveat that with the fact that people seem to already be deeply impressed by what they do, which they smile at. We close our conversation with some recommendations on what to listen to. They all chime in enthusiastically, especially Alfie: “There’s a band called Lime Garden who we really like, they’re from Brighton. Kid Kapichi are really great. We’re good friends with a band called Mindframe, they’re really cool. Our local music scenes are great. We also love a band called Congratulations and Honey Badger too!”
Watch the video for ‘Rip It Out’ below.
HotWax Live Dates 2023
17th May – Brighton, The Prince Albert (Pearl Harts tour)
18th May – Portsmouth, The Edge of the Wedge (Pearl Harts tour)
19th May – Bristol, The Lanes (Pearl Harts tour)
20th May – Hastings, Printworks (support from Snayx and Borough Council DJ set)
1st June – Manchester, 33 Oldham St (Alien Chicks support)
2nd July – Newport, Rebel Fest
7th July – Madrid, Mad Cool Festival
22nd July – Hackney, Visions Festival
25th August – London, All Points East Festival
9th September – Torquay, Burn It Down Festival
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Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker
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