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Hotwire – Rigged For Your Pleasure

Rus Martin – vocals/guitar
Gabe Garcia – guitar
Brian Borg – drums
Chris Stauser – bass

With influences that range from likes of Hunter S. Thompson and classical music, to the first emo, punk, and metal band created by bassist Chris Sauser and guitarist Gabe Garcia called Counterbail – Hotwire is geared and fueled to go full force towards their musical destiny.

Taking advantage of being home-based in one of the entertainment capitals of the world, Los Angeles, the group fed off the knowledge of others, making contacts, booking their own shows, and learning not just how to advance their music skills, but the whole business of making music their career. Fully believing in the D.I.Y. method, they took to blank shirts and spray paint to create their signature Hotwire merchandise, and the kids ate it up.

One of those shows landed them a meeting with an A&R rep from RCA, who had seen them perform in one of the many L.A. clubs. After courting them, including the proverbial “meet the parents” interrogation during a Thanksgiving dinner on the intention of the label, they decided to go steady with RCA.

The result was their major label debut, The Routine. But it’s anything but. “Nice Profile” pulls out a Social D jangle with a sliver of Green Day vocal style. But where Green Day swings in the pop-land playground, Hotwire rigs their Chevy Camero with a full 427 and blasts over corkscrew highways, ripping turns in a full adrenaline rush. “Rugburn” simmers with vocal hooks that could still appease the commercial radio execs without alienating their true Hotwire music fans, containing that perpetual aggressive energy complimented by thundering drum licks. They dart off the paved road to a slower pace on “Say What You Want”, capturing a ballad mood that ends with an acoustic serenade, captivating through its sheer simplicity and a haunting loop that runs over in your mind long after the CD ends.

Gabe Garcia got the short straw and ended up on the phone with me to talk about the life of struggling a rock star. He was adamant that although the whole “star” part had eluded them, they are no worse for wear and will not stop anytime soon – even when their tour vehicle breaks down and stops them in their tracks. Literally.

KB: You had a close call recently where you could have lost your trailer and your brakes were going out.

Gabe: We’ve had a lot of close calls. Thing is, we got this like, short bus. It used to be a shuttle for old people. Now, since we put so many friggin’ miles on it in such a short period of time, it just seems to be falling apart. We’ve had break problems, missed some shows on the Nonpoint tour…it’s frustrating. We’re trying to get it worked on, but we’re poor, ya know.

KB: What the hell? Why isn’t RCA stepping up?

Gabe: They’ve been amazing, but we tour so much, they’re sick of us, like, “Leave us alone for a little bit!”

KB: Well, if you can’t make it to your shows, that’s an impact on them. So they need to be taking those calls.

Gabe: We’ll make it to our shows if we have to walk.

KB: How did your video shoot for “Not Today” go for you in L.A.?

Gabe: Oh my god, it was so much fun. Me and Chris, the bass player, we work in production, in commercials and other stuff. What happened was, Chris knew Kevin Kerslacke’s wife and gave her a call just to say “hi” …AND to tell Kevin he was doing our next video. Kevin ended up calling back after hearing the message and said yes. We had a smaller budget, so we didn’t think he was actually going to go for it.

KB: What has Kevin done?

Gabe: He did Green Day… the Nirvana video “Come As You Are”, he’s just done, what I think to be, ground-breaking videos. It was a lot of fun. We got all our buddies in it.

KB: So what was the theme behind the video?

Gabe: Just mayhem. Kevin had this picture of these Shinto monks that have this weird ritual, like a mosh pit. He wanted to go off of that. So there are just a lot of close shots of us performing. There’s no like, story line or anything. We just went out and do what we do. We don’t want people to think we’re fucking actors or anything. We just played around like monkeys for eight hours.

KB: So no bling, bling in the hot tub?

Gabe (laughing): No, I don’t think that’s us.

KB: Well, just every time you turn on a video it seems to involve a cigarette boat and money flying around with booty and booze. Somebody’s really gotta come up with some new video concepts.

Gabe: Oh, I know. We just wanted to do a “no bullshit” type of thing.

KB: So were you guys pretty stoked to hear about getting on the Ozzfest tour?

Gabe: Yea. Chris and I were actually working when we heard. We got out of the truck and started dancing around (laughing).

KB: What bands are you looking forward to playing with?

Gabe: Well Killswitch Engage and Depswa we toured with last summer. So it will be great to just see those guys again and hang out with them. They’re such great guys. It’s gonna be like summer camp, ya know? Then there’s definitely Marilyn Manson and Korn, and obviously, Ozzy. Revolution Smile too, those guys are really good. I’m also interested in The Datsuns.

KB: They’re damn cool. We just interviewed them. They’re the real down and dirty rock and roll. Different from a lot of bands on the roster.

Gabe: That’s awesome, ‘cause most of the bands are really, really metal. And we don’t consider ourselves metal, so it’s nice to have Revolution Smile and The Datsuns on there.

KB: Well, one thing I picked up, and I don’t know if you’ll take this as a compliment, but the vocals on “Nice Profile” on the album sound a lot like Billy from Green Day. The one thing I thought about is your band is, you take it many steps further than three chord progressions. The strength of Rus’ vocals along with the really deep and intense sounds that you guys put together really sets you apart. Where bands like Green Day have the happy punk mood going on, you guys get pretty dark and deep.

Gabe: Thank you. That’s a great compliment actually.

KB: The one thing I thought about too was…well, this past weekend I was watching some VH-1 special about rock ballads from the ‘80s. Not that you guys do ballads of sorts, but the ending to “Say What You Want” was really interesting.

Gabe: It was an idea that I had for a while. I grew up learning and playing classical guitar. I wanted to put that influence in. You can hear it in some of our music in the chord progressions that I choose. I was meddling with a couple things, and the guys were like, “You gotta do it.” We put some loops behind it and some weird delays with spacey type effects, and it ended up in the same keys as the next song, which is “Hands On You”.

KB: I noticed. It was a really cool transition.

Gabe: That was the idea…where the songs meld into each other. We listen to a lot of different stuff where a song stops and a new song starts and it all sounds like a continuous thing.

KB: So basically, you wanted to make the album a whole piece of music rather than 12 separate entities.

Gabe: Oh yea. We wanted more of slippery slope, where something starts off heavier and then it gets more atmospheric like on “Rugburn” and “Hands On You”, then it gets back up and goes back down again.

KB: If you were to go back to when you were putting the music together and even when you were in the production and recording studio, what was the overall mood and theme you had in mind for The Routine?

“Where’s the clapper when I
need it?

Gabe: The overall mood was probably just desperation. We’ve been playing music together for six years. Not with this band, this band has been around for three. But we’ve technically been together for six. We knew we wanted to play music for a living since we were younger, even though we may not have known it at the time. When we tried to start doing it professionally, it was a really hard transition. And it’s still really hard right now. Ask any band and they’ll tell you about the desperation of the life of a starving artist. Writing those songs was just out of desperation, you know what I mean? It’s kind of funny, because I think all of us are predestined to do certain things. All of us knew we just wanted to do music. But there’s a lot that comes along with that, like, you’re gonna suffer for a while. And that’s just the way it’s gonna be. Nothing’s going to stop us, but you live in this place where you think, “Where’s my next amount of money coming from?” or “Where is my next meal coming from?” And you don’t really know sometimes. Living like that’s pretty hard…

KB: Absolutely. And the majority of people aren’t willing to make those kinds of sacrifices or live that way. They can’t do it.

Gabe: Definitely. But you gotta do that, take a chance. But for us, this is our destiny that we’ve chosen. And it’s not always the happiest, easiest, or the best thing. It all comes down and comes through in how your music is and how it feels, you know what I mean? You see your peers climbing the ladders of life or whatever…we’re growing musically and progressing, but we’re seeing people grow financially around us and it’s frustrating.

KB: It seems like you’ve made some strides in the last year, getting signed with RCA, getting a new record out, and now you’re on the Ozzfest tour where you’re able to get exposure to masses of people. Although you feel like you’re still struggling, those accomplishments have had to have an impact on all of you.

Gabe: I feel like RCA has been so supportive. There’s so many cool people there. People that I feel, care about us on a personal level, like we have friends there. We have nothing but good things to say about them. Recording the record was a huge cornerstone for us. Up until then, we don’t really have any good recordings. We don’t have anything that we were proud of as far as what we did musically. With all of that, we’re just going along life as normal. It’s not like you’re insanely popular and blowing up. It just hasn’t happened for us yet, and who knows if it even will or whatever. That’s pretty much our attitude, “whatever.” It’s just business as usual.

Gabe went on to say how much Hotwire is looking forward to playing again with Adema Friday, June 6 at 32 Bleu in Colorado Springs. Their last experience with them in Kansas City was a huge success, where the kids again, ate up all their merch and went crazy during their show. Let’s just hope their geriatric tour bus rigged with duck tape and luck gets them here.


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