The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Hot Water Music: The Fire, The Steel, The Tread

Written by: Andrea Janov, CC2K Music Editor

There are certain bands and songs that define a period of my life, you know, the minute you hear the opening chords you are transported to a random party, a car ride, or that fest when you never heard of the band before they played. Hot Water Music is one of those bands for me, I will always be sucked back in time and remember what it felt like to be 16 and invincible when I hear them. 

Now, because I have such a strong connection to their older work, I was a bit hesitant and didn’t want to become too excited when I heard that How Water Music was releasing new material for the first time in almost ten years. Along with anything else that exists in memory, nostalgia is hard to live up to. 

From the first chord of the “The Fire, The Steel, The Tread/Up To Nothing” EP, I knew that I would not be disappointed. Chuck Ragan’s gruff voice has the power to instantly get inside the most cynical punk and guide him into moving experience. 

Both tracks offer a slightly less gritty voice than fans are used to from Hot Water Music, but the vocals and the music is still their identifiable style. “The Fire, The Steel, The Tread” is a more brooding track that calls to the audience to experience something that is heartfelt and meaningful. Though the lyrics convey this, “Come on, come on, gotta trust in something strong / Gotta keep them wheels on turning, die with the rest and wrong”, the feeling is more contained in the nuances of voice and music. 

“Up To Nothing” is catchier than the first track and has a beat that demands the listener moves his body.  
It is the sort of track where the pit would be filled with guys pit tapping their hands to their chest with the beat as the girls sway with their whole bodies. 

Hot Water Music is one of the few bands that always makes you feel something while you are listening to them, you know, like the old saying that the sum is more than its parts. Hot Water Music is more than some guys recording songs, when they come together, they create art.  The experience even extends beyond the song, into the silence. It is like how a great poet can use the white space on the page around his words to create another layer for the reader. Hot Water Music uses the silence the make the listener reflect about how he felt in the thick of the song. 

Their new EP, “The Fire, The Steel, The Tread/Up To Nothing” brings them 15 years into the future and shows why they were always so legendary and offers a glimpse into where the band can go. This EP shows a very logical maturation for the band and gets old and new fans excited for what can come from a new Hot Water Music album. And dammit, it is all so very exciting.