What's in a Name? - Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat on Their Band Name and the Names of His Old Bands | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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What’s in a Name? - Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat on Their Band Name and the Names of His Old Bands

Hot Hot Heat Out Now via Kaw-Liga

Jul 15, 2016 By Steve Bays Photography by Kheaven Lewandowski Web Exclusive
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What’s in a Name? is our recurring guest blog series where an artist writes about how they came up their band name. For this edition we hear from Steve Bays, frontman of Hot Hot Heat. The Canadian band formed in 1999. Their debut album, Make Up the Breakdown, was released by Sub Pop in 2002 and garnered their dance-punk sound instant acclaim, making them one of the poster children for turn of the millennium indie bands partially launched by the then burgeoning wave of new music blogs and websites. The band went major label for their next two albums, 2005’s Elevator and 2007’s Happiness Ltd., both released on Sire, before returning to their indie roots with 2010’s Future Breeds on Dine Alone and Dangerbird. The band has just released their self-titled fifth album on Kaw-Liga, which they have announced will be their final album.

Read on as Bays not only explains the origin of the band’s name, but also humorously runs through many of the bands he was in prior to Hot Hot Heat and how their names were arrived at.

I remember when Paul [Hawley] came up with our name Hot Hot Heat. We had just moved into a nasty ex-drug house (it had been in the papers for a police shooting the year before). Paul, Dustin [Hawthorne], and I all lived there (with many other couch crashers!). We had built a jam space (for our many different bands at the time) with free mattresses we acquired somehow, and we were able to see past the cat piss smell throughout the house, but the kitchen paint color was intolerable to us for some reason, so we decided to paint it. At one point, though, we decided to cover the kitchen with graffiti for a few days before we covered it up, so we had a graffiti party one night (with Arlen from Wolf Parade, funny enough), and we were writing the dumbest things we could think of all over those walls. Somehow in that graffiti brainstorm I remember Paul looking at me and saying “I’d be jealous of a band if they were called Hot Hot Heat” and I (or Paul or someone) said “well let’s use that for our next band”...and so we did.

But this isn’t so much about our name, but the names of the bands (or at least the ones I can remember at the moment) I had before Hot Hot Heata handful of which involved Dustin and/or Paul from the band, and/or Cam Pipes (who, funnily enough, went on to be the frontman for one of my favorite metal bands, Three Inches of Blood)and a brief explanation of the logic behind the name. In order from earliest band at 12 to my last band before Hot Hot Heat:

Aftermath: My first band when I was 12, named after the fourth Rolling Stones’ (our biggest and practically only influence) album (Aftermath), and also because we rehearsed after math (well, school).

Industrial Posers: The genre of ‘industrial’ was breaking big at that time with bands like Ministry, so we thought it would get our horrible band closer to mainstream success if we at least subliminally planted the word ‘industrial’ in the minds (of the dozen people who knew of our band).

Coliform: For a while it was cool for bands to reference disease and decay (along with anything else dark or negative) so we thought this disease-causing bacteria had a nice ring to it. I believe it was suggested to us by my aunt.

Lunacy: Referencing mental disorders was big in the ‘90s. Depression and just general “insanity” seemed really in vogue at the time.

Thumper: Kurt Cobain often wore a t-shirt of one of his favorite bands Flipper, which was a reference to a child’s movie about a dolphin. So we co-opted his irony by referencing Disney’s Thumper [from Bambi].

The Gavins: We had our minds blown when we were 13 by Nardwuar’s two-piece band, Thee Goblins. So we started a two-piece band that technically wasn’t fully stealing his name.

Pilot Light: I’m pretty sure we just thought this sounded badass… not really realizing at the time that it was part of a stove.

Lando: This was a reference to Lando Calrissian from Star Wars, which made sense considering it was a (straight edge hardcore) band that only sang about Star Wars.

Instill: This was also a hardcore band and, at that point, it was mandatory that your band name had a really strong sound or feel to it, and/or referenced some form of strength or pain.

Stand We At Last: The name was stolen from a book I never read on my mom’s bookshelf. Indie bands during this period would often have a name with many words, usually vague or meaning unknown, and often the word “we.”

The Swindle: Early days of “The ____” being cool. Although not quite yet at the point where it was cool to pluralize the second word in your name.

Missiles to Heaven: I like to claim that I was in emo bands before emo became emo. And this name was SO emo.

Nation of Shame: This raging heavy hardcore band was highly political and made music that spoke out against crimes against human rights, particularly minorities and aboriginal/native people. Unfortunately, after we had already printed thousands of stickers, we found out that that was also the name of a Nazi/white power organization, so we had to change our name.

Disassociate from Man: The name that replaced Nation of Shame, and was referencing being ashamed of hundreds of years of tragic acts by the white man, the male, and mankind in general.

City of Harlequin: An ironic reference to romance novels. Very early indie-emo sounding name.

New York City Rhythm: Just straight up ripped off the title of a Barry Manilow song. At this point I was starting to become proud of the fact that I had no shame in admitting I liked what some might refer to as the more shameful side of AM Gold.

Fuck You, I’m Stealing Home: A baseball themed band that toured the coast playing primarily basements and selling matchbooks with our name on them. The oddity of the theme alone helped move some serious units.



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jacob wallace
July 19th 2016

Absolutely love this series, thank you for all of the great info.

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July 20th 2016

Great Post. This article gave an information which was not known. We gain knowledge about the outside world through this type of article. Thank You

July 20th 2016

Great Post. This article gave an information which was not known. We gain knowledge about the outside world through this type of article. Thank You

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August 19th 2016

Quite Interesting article. I loved reading this band name article.

Thanks for the interview, really informative. It would be great to read more of such views, but I understand that it’s a really hard work to make a research of the audience needs, to contact with the artists, taking the interview itself and converting it into a well-written material.

September 6th 2016

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