Aug. 1, 2016
You’ve stated that you’re starting a brand new band with new guys – is it still going to be called The Hot Rod Gang?
Yes. But it’s new people; a fresh start. The guys are a lot younger than me, so hopefully they can bring some cool ideas to the table.
Who’s the new band?
It’s going to be Cody Strong (drums) and J.M. (bass). I’m sure you know both of them. I’ve played with J.M. many times before.
What made you decide they should be your band?
I like the way they both play. It’s kind of a package deal with them. They play together; they play in other bands together. So, it makes sense to approach two people who already know each other’s way of playing – as opposed to going out and starting all over with a bass player, and going out and starting all over with a drummer. Believe me, I’ve done this three or four times, attempting to start over, and it sucks, because I don’t want to rehearse the same fucking songs that I’ve been playing for twenty years, but I have to, you know?
You mentioned new material?
Yeah. I’ve been writing some new material. I’ve got maybe an album’s, or maybe an album’s more, worth of material.
Thinking about going back into the studio?
Definitely. I would like to do another studio album.
Is there a time-frame for that?
No time frame. It’ll probably be in the spring, maybe. We’re going to do some traveling before then; go visit my trip in Europe. So, it’ll be after that.
Brand new start; fresh material. What happens now?
Now, we’re in the process of rehearsing, quite a bit; just getting the songs down with these guys. Then, maybe some traveling.
Any firm gigs lined up?
The Surf Club – August the 6th, August the 13th.
What’s the most exciting part about starting fresh?
Maybe it offers a little more energy; energy for me, for sure. Don’t get wrong – I love the guys I played with for fifteen years, but my drummer just moved away to the Hill Country, and my bass player – I’m sure he wanted to do different projects. He’s a great player; loves a lot of punk-type music, maybe he wants to get back into that. So, we just decided to give it a break. But, I’m going to keep on moving on, you know?
What’s the most daunting thing about starting fresh?
A lot of people, when they see a new band, are put off that it’s not the same guys, and think it’s not as good as it used to be – that’s the hardest part, for me.
So what are you going to do, to prove otherwise?
The songs are going to be the same, if not better. They’re going to be played the same, if not better. The visual aspect of it was something I was really concerned about maybe fifteen years ago, but not so much anymore. The music is more important.
When you first started, can you give me an idea of where your mindset was; then maybe ten years ago, tell me where your mindset was; and then now, what your mindset is.
When we first started, I never wanted to be doing this for a living – I knew that right from the get-go. For a hobby, at first, it was really fun, and it was exciting. Then, when we first started recording, the first couple of albums – we would ship them off every day to distributors in Germany and England – that was a lot of work.
Then, the second part – I’d say we’d peaked. We would have 600 people come to the Surf Club or other places in Texas to see us play. Back then, there were fads in music. Rockabilly was huge, then Ska and Swing came along. It went in different cycles. You could tell what was going to come next by the music on the commercials. I remember seeing a commercial, probably fifteen years ago, and it had Swing music. Then, all of a sudden, Swing bands were popping up everywhere, and it was what was cool. Rockabilly went on the backburner. Kind of like what happened to Punk, you know? Punk has always been an underground scene – except for somebody like Green Day, but I really don’t think you can classify them as Punk anymore.
And then the third part, I guess I was doing it less for myself and more just for the people who wanted to see us. I really don’t care for going out of town too much anymore, because I don’t like paying to play – and out of town doesn’t offer crap, you know that. Here, I can make twice as much, and be in bed before midnight – and that’s the way I like it. Everyone raves about Austin. Austin, Austin, Austin. I’m downing it, but it’s just not like it used to be. I think we caught the end of it in the early 90’s, of how it was. We used to play once a month on 6th Street at Blackout Lounge, and it was crazy. Then, in the late 90’s – everyone complained about the noise; the police were coming in with their sound decimal meters; shutting everyone down. The early 90’s were the end of it. We caught the last of it, when Austin was enjoyable. Now, I could care less to go to Austin.
The thing is – Houston used to be fun, San Antonio used to be fun, Austin used to be fun. But just like here, and everywhere else – live music is just not as watched as it used to be.
What do you think could be done to change that, especially here locally?
Well, the bands helping each other, as far as plugging each other, that’s always a good start. The bars that hire you, try to do a bit more advertising, because it’s not just up to the band to get the crowd there, it’s up to the bar as well. Nine times out of ten, it’s the bar that benefits from the crowd being there anyway, and I think that if it’s the band that’s getting the crowd there, the wealth should be spread around a little more.
This is kind of a loaded question, but – who are some of your favorite performers in this generation in Corpus Christi?
In Corpus Christi – I love you, Jimmy Willden. I like David Martinez. A person I just recently saw, and really thought was incredible was Shayna Sands. I think her style is very cool, I don’t know how to describe it.
One of my alltime favorites, locally, is Rudolph Llanes – I just think he’s one of the most talented musicians I’ve seen. Everyone says the machine he uses – the looping machine – is kind of cheating, but I don’t think it is. What he does is turn it into an instrument, not just a box.
Where do you hope to see this new iteration of the band in the next six months?
Just the strongest the band has been for the last six months. I don’t want to see any change. I’m not necessarily looking for any kind of growth; I don’t want to spread out further. I’m sure the guys already know by now – I like to keep it local.
Ultimately, I want people to partake a little more in the live music. Maybe a week ahead of time, look to see what’s going on, and just enjoy it.
Thanks for doing this Jimmy, and keep on watching Matt Hole & The Hot Rod Gang!