Hotwire: Wired for Sound Success
J. Gordon
7/22/2003 10:51:17 AM

"We don’t really have a political statement. We don’t have any mantra or creed that we go by"

You’ve just got to dig a hardcore band that goes back to their roots for inspiration—way back--to bands like The Rascals, Jim Croce, and Disney’s Jungle Book soundtrack. Rawk! And Hotwire, while definitely fitting comfortably within the hardcore/punk/agrro scene, is equally melodic, happy and tuneful. Hotwire is, quite simply, a band with a sound that can’t go wrong.

Shaking up the Ozzfest 2003 tour, Southern California-based Hotwire’s been able to introduce themselves to a new music generation (music generations typically lasting about four years, on average—the length of time it takes to get through high school if you play by the rules). Started in 1999, this band is no stranger to touring-- but Ozzfest has definitely been their big break.

After their blistering-hot second stage set in St. Louis, Hotwire have clearly recruited another ten or twenty thousand devoted fans from this gig alone. We caught up with lead singer Rus Martin and guitarist Gabe Garcia to chat about their success-- but initially, the guys were more interested in talking about how our Lollapalooza went the week before, praising the likes of new band S.T.U.N., and asking us the best way to search for online zines. It seems that both Gabe and Rus have both contributed to zines in the past, and they hold them in high respect.

The guys say that Ozzfest has been a whole different game for them. “Pretty amazing,” says Gabe. “This is our first time playing in front of a crowd of that magnitude. I was pretty intimidated the first couple of days, but now it’s kinda like normal. Now, I’m just thankful. Like, seeing all those kids--who gets an opportunity like that? It’s a privilege to be able to convert these kids over to being fans of our band. Ozzfest is just like summer camp, you know? All the bands are friends. The majority of the second stage bands we toured with last year, and some of them we toured with this year.”

“An older summer camp. Without many rules!” laughs Rus. “It’s ecstasy,” says Rus. “That’s what it feels like: Ecstasy. Like the Rascals used to say!”

“But it’s definitely an honor to be on this tour and we’re so grateful,” says Gabe. “It’s nice to be a part of the history. As a young kid, I went to Lollapalooza and saw bands like Soundgarden and Ministry and was totally blown away. Now, to come here, to Ozzfest-- I feel like it’s come full circle.”

Gabe, a former philosophy student, says that the band doesn’t have any agenda to push on their fans. “We don’t really have a political statement. We don’t have any mantra or creed that we go by. We go by what we know and what we feel. John Lennon used to call himself a ‘primitive musician’ because he never knew how to [formally] write music, he just knew what he felt. He looked at someone like Paul McCartney who could do all that stuff and learned from him, but, I think we’re more like John Lennon. We do what we feel.

“That’s what we hope people will go into when they’re listening to the record. That same idea of letting down your guard, letting loose and being who you are. Not thinking about how ‘oh, I need to wear a Meshuggah shirt to the show, or a Napalm Death’ or being part of any sort of sect. It’s about music in general. Appreciating life.”

“I really don’t think politics belong in music, personally,” says Rus. “I really don’t. If you’re gonna be a politician, be a politician. If you’re gonna be a musician, be a musician. I think that when you exploit music you’re trying to force something,” Rus says.

But while Hotwire doesn’t have a political agenda, their music and lyrics are far from short of imagination.

“You’re using your music to get across certain ideas, and it goes far to get people to feel things, that’s what we intend for our music. That’s enough of a message,” says Gabe. “We have a lot of energy onstage, live. That’s the kind of people we are. That’s the energy we want to convey. Yes, life is pain. But it’s also happiness. It’s also love. And it’s also a lot of other things. I think music is the best tool to describe just being alive.”

After Ozzfest, Rus says that the plans are “Anything and everything. Europe. Tour, tour, tour. But we’re writing music at the same time.”

One would have to think that the constant tour would stifle a musician or lyricist’s creativity. So how does a band like Hotwire hold it together to continue to create with such a rigorous schedule?

“It is hard,” says Gabe. “Your relationships with people in the band change, too. When you’re sitting at home practicing, you’re free to do whatever you want. But then you get on a bus, we’re like in an apartment together. We’re all sleeping together. The time you do have to play is onstage as a band, and the rest of the time we’d be creating, well, you can’t put drums up here, you can’t put you bass rig up here, so we play acoustic guitars and sit in the back and write. It’s a whole different idea.

“But it’s also inspirational. You get out and you have all this energy coming back at you. You want to turn it into something. Turn it into songs and music.”

As a hardcore band in part of a hardcore festival, it’s a bit hard to make the mental shift that these same relaxed and mellow guys are the guys we see tearing things apart onstage.

“Yeah, people think of Ozzy as some guy who bites off bats heads,” Gabe says. “It’s the same thing here, people look up at us onstage and think all we do is just thrash around.”

Hotwire has toured with diverse acts such as Hoobastank, the Wu Tang Clan, Injected and Kitty, getting their unique sound out to every pair of ears on this planet that they can. The guys say that they love playing clubs because it gives them a chance to show other sides and depth to their music that you don’t get in the outdoor venues. “It’s a different experience. Outside there is a whole lot more people. There isn’t the circus, the merchants…it’s really a festival,” says Gabe.

“Yeah,” Rus affirms. “I tell everyone to definitely have an open mind when they check out the record, and in our live show, I can tell you we have a fun time. Be prepared and ready for a different sound.”

You can check that different sound out for yourself by picking up their RCA full-length debut, The Routine, dropping into their site ( for full-length videos or catching their next live show.


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