Hot Hot Heat Gang Up on New Album

Canadian pop rockers get darker, more "urgent" on most collaborative effort yet

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Canadian four-piece Hot Hot Heat are writing away, preparing to hit the studio May 1st to record the follow-up to their 2005 breakthrough, Elevator, for a September release. The new material, some thirteen tracks the band plans to co-produce, is the pop rockers' most collaborative yet -- thanks to the addition of guitarist Luke Paquin after founding axeman Dante DeCaro's departure during the making of Elevator.

"The main theme of this album is we wanted to reunite as a gang, not as a band, not as four musicians," frontman Steve Bays says from his home in Vancouver. "With Dante leaving, it just tore us all apart. We realized the best music is written when you have no distractions, and all that matters at the end of the day is your gang of friends."

Cuts expected to make the release include "A Good Day to Die," "Your Mother Told You" and "Happiness Ltd." The potential album opener, "My Best Fiend," finds Bays pontificating on why his favorite people are the ones he hates "a little bit," taking the peppy combo in a slightly darker direction.

"It's probably the most urgent-sounding song that we've ever written," Bays chimes in. "It's really heavy and intense -- kind of like Black Sabbath, if Black Sabbath were fast and tight and not sloppy. But then the melody is this kind of four-part-harmony chant[ing] chorus."

Another song, "Setting Son," has its origins in dozens of sound-check jam sessions. The band worked on the track continually, says Bays, until it became the "second most aggressive song on the album." While holding onto Hot Hot Heat's "catchiness," the song also veers into weighty territory. "It's about the relationship between a father and his son," he explains, "and how no matter how much you have in life with success or love, you always have that voice in the back of your head that can destroy you and tear you apart."

Before recording, the group plans to keep their chops up by continuing the series of semi-surprise gigs which they kicked off in Canada last month.

"We have a bunch of weird gigs to test out our material," says Bays. "I didn't like that we stopped being a live band while we were writing and recording the last record, so I wanted to stay on tour. Any time we're not writing or recording, we're doing dates."