JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”
I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE
By John B. Moore
After an eight year hiatus, last year the Florida punks Hot Water Music came roaring back with one of the best albums of their career (and that’s saying a lot for a band that put out some phenomenal songs over the past couple of decades). They packed up the van in their ongoing effort to bring the punk rock gospel to the masses.
And somehow guitarist Chris Wollard found the time to write and record Canyons, his second solo record with his revolving band The Ship Thieves. With barely enough time to read through the liner notes on his new album, Wollard is about to pack up the duffel once again to continue touring with Hot Water Music.
With the new Hot Water Music record and tour, how did you find time to put together another solo album?
(Laughs) Yeah, that’s an issue for sure… I guess the short answer is that you just can’t stop, I mean, there’s not enough hours in the day really. But, I love all this stuff. Writing in the morning on my front porch, the long confusing nights in our disgusting warehouse, all the lost hours in the studio… I love it and I just try to keep busy. But really, I’m super lucky to be able to play with all these guys. It’s way more work than anyone can do on their own, and you gotta really wanna do it, in order to keep doing it over and over.
What can you tell me about this record?
Well, from a guitarist’s point of view, I knew I wanted to do more of a rock n’ roll record than I had ever done before, but I didn’t really know where that was going to take me. I guess I felt like I wanted to get back to basics in a way, I mean, I started playing electric guitar when I was 8 years old, up in Flint MI. I obviously didn’t have a clue about anything at that point, but there was a little hole in the wall called Flint Guitar and the owner, Bruce Wench, took me under his wing and taught me the basics: Beatles, Stones, Clapton, Cheap Trick, mixed in with a little R&B and blues and that was how I got started – almost 30 years ago now – geez… but anyway, yeah, that was the stuff that really took ahold of me, and it still kinda feels the same for me. I found myself going back and relearning a lot of the old stuff that I had forgotten, and everything seemed almost new again. Or maybe I was just seeing things differently, but I guess I was trying to maybe go back to those roots; to relearn my instrument; to go back to the things that were so fun and challenging when I was a kid. Or, maybe I just wanted to bang the hell out of my guitar and see what came out. Either way, it was fun to make.
Is your backing band the same one this time around as the first one?
No, the lineup has evolved quite a bit really. On the first record, I really didn’t even know that I was making a record. At that point, I was doing a lot of traveling on my own, recording at friends’ houses here and there and just kinda calling up friends and saying “Hey, you wanna come over and fuck around?”… I mean, we never had a single practice for any of the songs on that first record. I’d have a tune and I’d play it a couple times through for everyone, and we’d just make it all up on the spot. Some songs came out just not very good at all, but some of the songs on the album are still the exact same mix that we did right there on the spot. Really, I’m surprised that it came together at all (laughs). We were just cutting loose and having fun, but once I got to that point, I knew that I wanted to put a real band together, but that’s easier said than done and we did a lot of shows with different lineups along the way, but when we got Chad (Darby bass) and Bobby (Brown, drums) in the band, it finally all starting clicking, and that’s when Canyons actually started coming together.
Do you have plans to tour at all behind this record?
Yeah, we’d like to get out there a bit for sure. Got a few things up in the air still, so we’ll see, but we’re hoping to put something together for the coming spring.
When we spoke earlier this year, for the Hot Water Music record, you talked about how you guys were trying to not spend too much time out on the road for long stretches. How is that working out?
Well, that’s something that I feel like you are always working on – trying to keep that balance – and it’s always changing. Sometimes you feel like you can handle more, sometimes less, sometimes your home life needs you to actually be home, but finding that balance is the key to everything in my opinion. If you don’t feel good about what you are doing, everything suffers.
What’s next for Hot Water Music? Started making plans for a new record yet?
(Laughs) Yup! I have a Hot Water tour starting next week, and I’m looking forward to showing the guys a few new ideas and just yesterday I finished a new Ship Thieves EP, so yeah, keeping busy!