To celebrate the release of their new record ‘MAKING LOVE TO MAKE MUSIC TO MAKE LOVE TO,’ I interviewed the band in their practice space (and caught a concert for one)
While it’s probably pretty immediately obvious to most people, I am not an artist. Save 1.2 songs on drums, a little kazoo when the occasion arises and— a la every kid who grew up in an American suburb, “Hot Cross Buns” on recorder—I do not play an instrument. However, what I lack in musical skill, I make up for in ENTHUSIASM, and last weekend it was an absolute thrill to once again exercise my audience + applause skills—and, far more importantly, soak up some real-life live music—as I sat in on a Hot Knives rehearsal in the band’s Smart Car-sized practice space at Savaria Studios.
Hot Knives’ rad new record Making Love To Make Music To Make Love To (a sexier spin on a Spacemen 3 title) is out TODAY, and after getting blown over // blown away by the Bushwick trio’s tunes from approx 3.5 feet away, I’m stoked to share a little intel on the record I acquired during a short in-studio interview before what was one hell of a Hot Knives concert for one.
Hit play, and read away…
On the record as a snapshot of the time it was written and the feelings that the songs encapsulate:
Alex: 2018 seems like 20 years ago… It was kind of a transitory period for me and Tom…
Joe: I was thinking about it… It was one of those things that hit me in the shower the other day. A lot of these songs are about capturing those little moments… like, when you’re in a transitory period, you see things more clearly, time slows down a bit. You know, it’s a little psychedelic. You can focus on things a little better. You remember how a meal tastes after a breakup or after some momentous event because your senses are heightened… you’re hyper-aware. Looking back on the time that we wrote these songs and were playing them, it was a lot of those really pretty moments. Like living in New York, capturing a really pretty New York spring day. You catch a gorgeous Saturday, and there’s nothing like it… so, you know, just capturing those moments during periods of transition when you’re more aware.
Tom: One of the things I feel like you’ve been trying to do with this stuff is really bring a sense of hope and positivity into really heavy rock music and just into music in general, which flags a lot of the time, especially in dark times… These songs were written, like 2018?
Joe: We were putting them together in ’17…
Tom: Yeah, I mean, just a dark time for the country for all intents and purposes, politically and things like that, and these songs deliberately tried to push against that and encourage people to reach higher, and I’ve always appreciated them for that fact. Most of the music we played before was very overtly dark, so this was a new experiment for us—
How do you make, like, happy music…
Alex: A lot of transitory, what comes next, feeling. At least for me, I was very much in the darkness, so it was cool that Joe emphasized that positive approach to music. Because it’s hard. It’s much easier to be disaffected or kind of insincere or just lean into darkness and doom all the time. It’s very hard to convey positivity in music in a way that really connects with people. So that was the challenge and where we all converged.
Joe: We all listen to really bleak music… a lot of metal… avante garde, dark stuff. So for us to not play that but try and do it with the same intensity… I think that’s one of the ways we tried to approach it. Just trying to have those intense euphoric moments, you know, and music can deliver that stuff in a way that words can’t really.
On the release timing:
Tom: It’s a spring album, in my mind. It’s very much like a melting winter, and just like the first burst of enthusiasm you feel when it gets warm again… it comes right out of the gate with that.
I was listening to it, I think like a week ago… It has such a live feeling to it. You know, we recorded all of it live together as a three piece. So there’s that kind of push and pull, nice communication happening. And it just captures for me such a feeling of freedom, that intensity of live performance which has been sort of shaved off by the livestream culture that we’re in now. So I think it’ll hopefully be refreshing for people in that way, you know. Make them think of a brighter time when they used to be able to go and, like, see bands playing this kind of ecstatic live music.
On quarantine band bonding, connection and catharsis:
Joe: We’ve been able to be in here a lot. We’ve been able to focus a lot… to learn how each other interact as musicians a lot more. We have these songs, and they’re second nature. So when we play those, it’s a lot more just like flexing the muscle. And so now we’re actually working on writing, we’re working on trying to become better musicians together, and having the opportunity to not have to focus on shows and not have to focus on anything outside of this room has been really, really good for us creatively. Not to, like, downplay, you know…
Tom: It’s helped remind me why I started trying to do this. Why I started to play music. Because it feels fucking great. And you know, like, it’s the most amazing way to connect with another human being… outside of sex, maybe… but right up there. Which is another reason why the album title is great. Probably the two most transformative things that a human being could do with another person…
Yeah, I mean, it’s been the brightest, best part of every single week is coming in here and being able to drown everything else out and just focus on, like, what can this music be.
Alex: Especially this album, probably the tunes we’re working on now, catharsis is a big part of it, and a big theme. From Joe’s lyrics, I definitely see a theme of catharsis in sort of being present and acknowledging your reality. So what’s cool about music is you can be very present and completely off in the stratosphere at the same time. So as a space cadet, I definitely appreciate that. But it’s cool how you can develop like a muscle memory with other human beings to the point where your minds can be kind of up in the clouds and you’re still engaged with each other…
Our band ESP has definitely gotten stronger.
On how Hot Knives wants people to enjoy the record:
Joe: Loud. Start to finish, if possible…
Tom: For me, that record, one of its strongsuits is that there are so many rich moments that are just kind of hidden. I can put that record on, go in the other room, make a cup of coffee, come back in. And then just tune in at a very random point in the song… I don’t know, like the sort of middle-bridge section… and just hear shit I’ve never heard before in it. So it’s one of those records that I hope just stays on people’s turntables…
It’s one of these records that just like every single moment is just joyous and really free, and it’s important for me to feel that way nowadays.
Alex: There’s so many little golden gems, little moments, sprinkled throughout. And I think that’s what’s interesting. And in all honesty, I feel like you need to listen to it a couple times for things to kind of sink in and develop. It’s one of those albums, but a lot of my favorite albums are like that. Albums that the first time I’m like, wait, what the fuck is going on? It really does kind of like carry you through this psychedelic journey or experience, which can be disorienting… like many psychedelic experiences are.
Joe: Music hits everybody differently. So there’s no right way or no wrong way… Every way is the right way.
Making Love To Make Music To Make Love To is out NOW! Follow Hot Knives at @hotknivesworld, buy the record on Bandcamp, add the band to your Spotify playlists and find all things Hot Knives at hotknivesworld.com!
Feature image (provided by the band): Charlie Jordan
[Interview has been edited and condensed.]