By: Andrea Renney
“Finish this sentence: If you like _______, you’ll like Hot Flash Heat Wave.”
Sitting on a second-story patio on a warm August evening in San Diego, Hot Flash Heat Wave’s Ted Davis (bass and vocals) and Nathan Blum (guitar and vocals) look thoughtful and take a moment to consider their answers. Along with guitarist and vocalist Adam Abildgaard and drummer Nick Duffy, Davis and Blum are in town to play a sold-out show at the Irenic, one of the last dates on their summer North American tour supporting Summer Salt.
Blum speaks first: “Coco Loco.”
Coco Loco, according to Blum, is when you cut the top off of a coconut and fill it with rum, resulting in a rum-and-fresh-coconut-water cocktail. “It’s a great beverage,” adds Davis. “Get hydrated while you get drunk.”
The Sound of HFHW
If the comparison to Coco Loco didn’t sell you on the band, you’ll probably like Hot Flash Heat Wave if you’re into garage rock, surf rock, and/or dream pop. With the release of their debut album Neapolitan in 2015 and 2017’s follow-up, Soaked, HFHW has proven they can span the spectrum from reverb-heavy surf tunes like “Dirty Dreamer (XXX)” to a Pixies-esque mellow jam like “Raindrop”.
Davis agrees that the band has a somewhat varied, yet still consistent, sound. When asked which song he’d recommend to someone who hadn’t heard their music before, Davis comments, “Definitely the song we’re most known for is ‘Gutter Girl,’ but I don’t think any of them fully represents the band as a whole.”
Touring far and wide
This spring saw HFHW supporting fellow San Francisco (now Brooklyn) dream pop band No Vacation on another North American tour, and they’ve been on this current tour with Summer Salt since July 13th. “It’s been crazy,” says Davis. “This is the longest tour we’ve done so far, and we went to a lot of places we’ve never been before. We hit Florida, North Carolina, Virginia — a lot of places on the East Coast.”
Fresh off of playing the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco, HFHW isn’t leaving much time for rest in between the nearly back-to-back tours. “At least we don’t have to return to normal life,” Davis points out. “There’s always the post-tour blues after you get back from a long vacation.”
New sounds with a new EP
Amid all the touring during 2018, the band has still found time to work on new music. Their latest single, “Glo Ride,” was released earlier this year. It’s more psychedelic and dreamy than their previous releases, and Davis says it’s definitely representative of what’s to come.
“We have a lot of songs written out, but we really wanted to release something that we felt was really fresh and cohesive as a group of songs,” he says of their forthcoming release. “So, this next EP that will come out later this year is very much on a similar vibe to ‘Glo Ride,’ where they’re kind of headier, but still pop-oriented songs.”
Changes in a band’s sound as they grow and change are inevitable, but Davis and Blum both agree that it’s less of an intentional choice and more of a response to new experiences and inspirations.
“We all write a lot, and we’re all growing people and our influences change, so our songs also reflect […] what we’re enjoying and what we’re inspired by, without us putting in too much intention and trying to sound one way,” explains Davis. “I think in terms of writing songs, it’s more about feeling a vibe, trying to take an idea into itself, and [realizing] the idea to its fullest, which is a process of feeling more than thinking.”
Where HFHW Hangs Their Hat
The non-stop touring this year has possibly helped ease the transition into living apart: after a few years of living together in a house in San Francisco’s Excelsior neighborhood, HFHW’s members are now spread out over the greater Bay Area. Despite the change in living situation, Davis doesn’t think their songwriting process will change much.
“[It] kind of evolved into more of us producing demos on our own before we actually moved apart, so nowadays basically we will write ideas individually and then bring them to the table for recording the album. In that respect, I don’t think living together really affected our writing process that much,” explains Davis. “We basically are living together right now, because this past year we’ve been touring more than half the year. So, we still have a lot of time together,” he adds.
Hot Flash Heat Wave is touring the United States (and Toronto) this fall with the Frights and HUNNY. Check them out on Bandcamp here and look out for their next record later this year.