Photo credit: Luke Lasley

Hot Flash Heat Wave remind me of sweets. Specifically the sweets Theibaud has been painting since the sixties. There’s a degree of play at hand in the band’s sound and the painter’s paintings — tactile and sugary. They’re animate via their breeziness.

What I like most about Hot Flash Heat Wave are the moments their shininess is contextualized with something a little colder, more piercing. I’m thinking about the part two minutes into “Hesitation,” and the way guitar slices clean through the otherwise glassy song. Or how the chorus in “Tastes Good” feels like the pleading, sadder maturation to the pop-punky verse. I didn’t ask, but I think they like reverb, the effect of a sound trapping in a confined space and collecting back in on itself. I think the effect suits them well, because it can do two things: fill a room with noise, or point out the empty space surrounding the noise. Reverb embodies a space while being simultaneously casted, shaped by it. I think Hot Flash Heat Wave do too.

They released their first LP this year, Neapolitan (also sugary), and they’re playing the Bay Bridged 10th Anniversary Party this Saturday. I emailed them to pick their brains, and here are their responses.

The Bay Bridged: You released Neapolitan this past year. What was it like to be Hot Flash Heat Wave in 2015?

Hot Flash Heat Wave: 2015 was a “coming-of-age” sort of year for us as a band. We did our first tour, recorded and released our first music video, and dropped our debut album Neapolitan. In a sense it taught us that being in a band isn’t all fun and games (it’s a lot of behind the scenes work!). Through this experience we went on a bunch adventures together and wrote a plethora of next level music that we are excited to put out this year.

TBB: Did your taste in music change at all in this past year?

HFHW: Our taste in music evolved a lot last year. We started the year digging the vocal-centered old school pop aesthetic of the Beach Boys, the Zombies, and the Beatles. On tour our go-to album was Samantha by Toro y Moi. These days we really dig Tropicalia and Samba music from Brazil like Marcos Valle and Arthur Verocai, as well as Soul-Jazz stuff like Roy Ayers, Marvin Gaye and Al Green.

TBB: Do you think of Hot Flash Heat Wave as a sublimation of your respective tastes in music, or something different? 

HFHW: Our sound is definitely a blend of all our musical tastes. One thing that differentiates our writing process is that each band member writes songs individually and then brings them to the table in a group setting. If we decide that the song is worth perusing further, we give it the finishing touches and adjustments that polish it off with the “HFHW sound”.

TBB: Most bands don’t live together. What’s it like when your roommates are also your band?

HFHW: Living with your band is quite an interesting setup. We are housemates, best friends, and working in this creative project all at once. Straddling these worlds has been a weird journey, but one that has ultimately made us closer as homies and work better as a band.

TBB: I feel like people pretty freely ascribe the word pop to your band. Are you a pop band? And what the heck is pop?

HFHW: Pop music can pertain to many styles of music, but it just needs a certain quality and design that will make it appeal to a large audience. A lot of bands making pop music focus so much on mass appeal that they lose a certain level of authenticity and rawness that we love in the music we listen to. This is something we take into consideration when writing/developing our sound.

TBB: How, if at all, does living in San Francisco play into your sound? 

HFHW: San Francisco is a huge influence in the way our songs come out.  We have found our lifestyle groove here where we can focus most of our energy on HFHW instead of struggling to pay rent. We take a lot of influence from San Francisco’s natural beauty and have written playful songs about the SF dating scene, the struggle to pay rent, and about driving around town in the shotgun seat.

TBB: Hot Flash Heat Wave is interesting to me, because your music feels kinda nostalgic, like something crafted via 60 years or so of guitar music (on your Facebook page you cite Santo & Johnny and Weezer, among others), yet you still sound kind of anachronistic — I don’t  think you sound like much going right now, especially in the city. I attribute this to the directness with which you acknowledge and deal with your influences. This isn’t really a question, I’m just wondering what your thoughts on that are.

HFHW: In the same way we were talking about how our music taste influences us as a band, our influences effect us in a similar, but more subconscious way. It’s one thing to like a band and listen to their music, but to be truly influenced by a band is more a matter of what has soaked deeper than words can describe. Also since each of us writes songs, our band’s influence is quite anachronistic as you said and that’s one thing we are realizing and embracing about ourselves more and more.

TBB: In the spirit of the Bay Bridged 10th anniversary show and writing about music: as a musician, what do you think the goal of music journalism should be? That is, when people write about your band, or ask you questions, what should they be working towards?

HFHW: Music journalism plays a huge role in how listeners discover, view and relate to artists. I think the goal of this kind of writing is to give a window into the artist’s life and show the human behind the music. Music has an incredible ability to bring people together and spread love, and journalism is an essential piece of that.

TBB: What’s your favorite show you’ve played, and what made it that way?

HFHW: I think one of our favorite shows was our record release show at Brick and Mortar after we returned from our west coast tour. Some of our close friends and artists we respect opened up the show and a ton of people we love in the Bay Area showed up to support. We had a projection show and smoke machine going, people hopped on stage to sing and dance and it was just a total blast. Our pet stuffed bear was crowd surfing and someone ended up stealing the bear sometime during the night. That show definitely made us all feel hometown love for San Francisco.

TBB: What’s going on with Hot Flash Heat Wave in 2016?

HFHW: 2015 was a wild year for us – dropping singles and building anticipation through the year until our album dropped in September and we toured the west coast. In 2016, we want to keep that momentum going. We have a ton of new material that we are very excited about and we are in the process of figuring out the best way to record it. Be on the lookout for some next-level jams in the coming months!

The Bay Bridged 10th Anniversary Party: The Stone Foxes, Annie Girl & the Flight, John Vanderslice (solo), Hot Flash Heat Wave
January 30, 2016
Rickshaw Stop
8pm, $15 advance/$18 door, All Ages