After successful appearances on The Late Show with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, British Columbia’s Hot Hot Heat seems poised for a big fall. The band’s fifth album and second major-label effort, Happiness Ltd., hit shelves on September 11 via Reprise, and Hot Hot Heat will celebrate with a series of West Coast dates. Drummer Paul Hawley talks about Canadian bands and beer and about other drummers he admires.
What is the status of Canada’s official apology to the rest of the world for Nickelback?
Since the rest of the world is still thanking us for Rush, the Arcade Fire, Hot Hot Heat and Wolf Parade, Prime Minister Harper has not as yet prepared a formal apology.
Do you have special drummer friends that you hang out with and discuss percussion-related subjects?
Yeah, I love to talk shop. I could drop names, but that would be cheesy. I talk with the guys in our band too, but a lot of the time when you hang with musicians it’s a chance to talk about something other than music, like girls or partying.
Speaking of partying, why is that all Canadian beer tastes kind of skunky?
I think a better question would be asking why all American beer tastes like piss. I’ve been all over the world, and everybody hates American beer. They’re just not telling you.
When I was in London, everybody was ordering Budweiser.
Nobody drinks Budweiser in England. They drink Newcastle and Stella. And everybody knows that Budweiser comes from the Budveiser region of Germany.
So, your fifth album is coming out. Is the fifth one as exciting as the first?
There’s never going to be another first time. With all the big firsts in life, your senses are always completely heightened. But releasing an album is always a new chapter, and you’re excited to have out it.
I see that “5 Times out of 100,” which first appeared on Knock Knock Knock, is on the new album. Why did you decide to put it on the new record?
When we first signed to the Warner Brothers they wanted us to rerecord. The original version captured a moment, but the recording wasn’t the highest quality. We tweaked it a bit and fucked around with it, and then we kind of forgot about. When it came time to do the record, we came back to it and realized what an insane shame it would be if that never saw the light of day.
Back to drumming: Are there any drummers that you admire?
The standard guys, you know: Ginger Baker, Dave Grohl, Ringo Starr, and Jon Bonham.
Dave’s out front now. Do you think he’s abandoned his fellow drummers for the spotlight?
I hadn’t really thought about that until right this minute. I think he’s got a personality that can’t be contained behind a drum set. He backed up one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and he earned the right to sing his own songs.
Would you ever consider coming out front?
I would definitely consider coming out front. I’ve written a lot of songs for the band, and I have a pretty nice backlog of material that I’ve been writing over the years. Right now I want the focus to be on Hot Hot Heat, though, so if I do anything it will probably be a home project. But who knows? If I get enough love from my friends I might put it out there.
I always ask this question during interviews: If you could put together your ultimate concert, what would it be?
First of all, Charlie Chaplin would have to be the emcee for the show. I’d probably start out with Mozart conducting a little bit, and then White Zombie, and Vulgar Display-era Pantera. Headlining, I’d have to say the Beatles.
That is the wildest lineup I’ve ever heard, bar none.