Hot Hot Heat (1999-2016) is an indie rock band from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. They formed in 1999 as a synthpunk band with Matt Marnik, who eventually left the band, on lead vocals. Steve Bays (vocals and keyboards) took over lead vocals, significantly changing the band's sound. The rest of the band is currently composed of Paul Hawley (drums), Louis Hearn (bass), and Luke Paquin (guitar). Paquin (also of The Street & Babe Shadow) replaced former guitarist, Dante DeCaro (Wolf Parade/Johnny and the Moon), while Hearn recently replaced bassist Dustin Hawthorne (USA Out of Vietnam). The band's name was coined by drummer Paul Hawley.
Their first full-length CD was Scenes One Through Thirteen (2001) which comprised all of the three prior EPs released to that point. In Spring of 2002, the band released another EP entitled Knock Knock Knock, with Steve Bays taking over vocals, and Dante DeCaro adding guitars to the previously synth-heavy sound. That same year, the band entered the studio to record their second full length album, Make Up The Breakdown, for Sub-Pop Records which propelled Hot Hot Heat into greater popularity and provided the band with a strong fan-base. The video for their song "Bandages" off of Make Up the Breakdown even received rotations on channels such as MTV.
In 2005 the band released their second album, Elevator, this time with Sire Records. This was a critical time for the band, because Dante DeCaro (guitar) decided to leave Hot Hot Heat. As one of the innovators of Hot Hot Heat's sound, the band considered breaking up. Wanting to continue the band, Luke Paquin was added as DeCaro's replacement. And although Elevator was recorded with DeCaro, Paquin is featured on the album art.
In 2007, Hot Hot Heat released their third studio album, Happiness Ltd. to eagerly awaiting fans. The band decided to add new elements to their music, including an orchestra. "Vibe" is constantly used by the band to describe everything about the album.
Hot Hot Heat is currently signed with Los Angeles indie label Dangerbird Records, and released their latest album, Future Breeds, in the summer of 2010.
On April 28, 2016, Steve Bays sent an email to fans confirming that the group was disbanding . His message read:
"Dearest friends, fans and supporters (new and old),
It is with much gratitude and respect to all of you that I confirm the end of the band. I didn't want to make a big deal about it, as I can't help but think that an emotional 'final letter' might feel big-headed (and very un-Canadian)! But after reading your descriptive and heartfelt comments, I realize the importance of not leaving any of you (or ourselves, for that matter) hanging any longer, and addressing that this newest, self-titled record is the final collaborative project for Hot Hot Heat.
When people ask me why the band isn't continuing, the thought that comes to mind is that an explosive fire can only burn for so long. Hot Hot Heat felt like harnessing lightning in a bottle. There were four A-type personalities, on and off the stage, all freaking out at the same time - for years! That's what made the personality in the songwriting jump out, and the live-show chemistry so shocking. I wouldn't / couldn't have had it any other way. I love them all, and will never spend that much time that closely with anyone else. I feel like I could write a book on each one of those guys. There was so much (beautiful and crazy) personality and energy in the band... and harnessing and guiding it in the same direction for 17 years is way longer than any of us ever thought we would have. So thank you for letting us do that.
It’s not that there isn’t part of me that wants to keep going, it’s just that I don’t want to continue to the band without the same ferocity and passion. That’s not what HHH was about. It was an all-consuming all-or-nothing thing, and it wouldn’t make sense to keep going at half-speed. The desire to leave our mark on pop music was what fueled us to give up our entire lives. I feel like we made our musical statement, and are ready to move on to new creative endeavors now. Hot Hot Heat changed and molded all of us. I think we squeezed all of the crazy incredible experiences and good times we possibly could’ve out of it. 17 years is a long time, and we’re all ready to continue on with our lives, meanwhile carrying forward with us all the experiences and love that was enabled by our journey as HHH.
Although it's been a gradual crossfade from active to non-active for us, marking it as the end feels realistic at this point. It’s also a good opportunity to acknowledge our appreciation for the love and support and - to be honest - just reeeally good times we've been lucky enough to experience on and off-stage, all over the world, since we formed in a basement in 1999. From freaking people out at house parties in the early days to seeing a larger audience react to the fact that weird music was somehow getting on the radio (and people were actually supporting and encouraging it) -- even just as a fan of music, it seemed too good to be true! I could never relate to the seriousness of the mainstream music of my childhood, which seemed to default to romanticizing depression and struggle. After living through that era of music in the 90’s, it felt way more rebellious and punk rock to not be afraid to have fun and run around and dance and freak out.
We were lucky enough to hang together for years. From living in shitty punk houses where we would jam all night and put on gigs with touring bands, to touring in vans that broke down in the mountains, then barely making it in time to a 15-person house-party gig and sleeping on floors... to eventually jumping between festivals and tours in Europe, Australia, Japan, etc. like it was no big deal... It was a huge trip. And none of it would’ve been possible without the support of so many different people behind the scenes -- I hope you know that YES I am talking to YOU -- and passionate fans who always showed up and weren't afraid to leave the heaviness of the real world behind, so they could throw down and have a good time with us.
I hope that our earlier records live on, as we always tried to not be bound too closely by current trends, hoping to achieve some sense of timelessness. And I feel that this final record is no exception. It is an assimilation of all of our varying, evolving musical mantras that we’ve kept to ourselves, but stuck closely to over the years. It has all the things I would want from a HHH record. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m genuinely excited to put it out!
What started as a late-night basement experiment after Paul traded a cheap guitar for a cheap synth from his dad's bandmate, Hot Hot Heat became the most important creative endeavor of our lives. Apologies for the melodrama, but looking back, man… it's true. It was so big for us all. It was all-consuming. All day, all night. We really took our work home with us and it was so cool having support from so many people encouraging us to just keep on truckin. I’m proud of every song we ever released – they all meant something sincere to me. The Hot Hot Heat family has always been the most loyal and supportive group of people, and I never would’ve imagined in a million years that we’d gain the love that we did. I can’t believe you gave your all for so long; I’m eternally grateful.
From the nerves before going on, to the euphoria of feeling completely out-of-body onstage, to the high I felt after every show that seemed to last for weeks, I will miss being in Hot Hot Heat. I’m proud of what we did. I’m proud of the people we connected with. Together, we managed to push pop music in a different direction.
Thank you for that.
- Steve Bays
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