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Hot Water Music Turn Up The Heat With Feel The Void

The hardcore heavyweights invite the Flatliners’ Chris Cresswell on board to help bring their ninth LP to life. 

by Christine Leonard

It must have felt like something out of a clichéd Hollywood movie when Chris Cresswell got the call that he was going to fill in for one of his favourite frontmen on stage. Stepping into the sweltering shoes of Hot Water Music’s co-leader Chris Wollard on ridiculously short notice back in 2017, Cresswell managed to swallow his fanboy angst and bolstered the benchmark post-hardcore band’s live ranks so admirably that he was soon welcomed into their melodic Floridian fold. 

“It’s still bizarre to me that I get this peek behind the curtain,” Cresswell admits. “My initial involvement was just filling in on the day of a show, and then there was a show the next day, and then after that weekend it was another weekend… It just kind of went that way for a while, but it was fun. From the get-go, they’ve done such a great job of making me feel comfortable in a super uncommon situation. It continues to be very surreal. I’ve grown up on this band and now being able to have a voice in it is a total trip.”

A veteran member of his own successful Canadian punk group, The Flatliners, Cresswell’s creativity has flourished during the contemplative pause the pandemic has provided. But when the fully reunited Hot Water Music lineup beckoned for him to join them in crafting their ninth LP, he sprang at the opportunity to leave the still heavily locked-down city of Richmond Hill, Ontario for the subtropical scapes of Alachua County. “[Engineer] Ryan Williams runs Black Bear Studios in Gainesville, Florida, so we all congregated in the hometown of the band there to make an album,” says Cresswell. “It felt great, to be honest. It was a culture shock for me, because I hadn’t even seen my family and friends in the flesh for a while and then all of a sudden I’m down in Florida making an album with one of my favourite bands which I’ve stumbled into becoming a member of.” 

Experiencing and overcoming that sense of disconnection and inner reflection is the heart and soul of the resulting album, Feel the Void. The culmination of two years of plotting and planning, Feel the Void explores mental breakdowns and breakthroughs via the talents of lead vocalists/guitarists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, bassist Jason Black, and drummer George Rebelo – now infused with Chris Cresswell’s 100% proof Canadian influence. Cresswell even credits being thrust back into his passion as being a fast-track to bumping his pandemic slump. “It was beautiful and it was so exciting,” he says. “I know I’m not alone in saying I didn’t feel like myself for a while and this really helped me get that feeling back. It really kicked the door down and showed me that the world still exists. It was like going on vacation back to my former self.”

While Cresswell is particularly proud of his vocal work on the jam-spawned cut “Turn the Dial,” Cresswell is honoured to have been able to leave his musical fingerprints on every one of Feel the Void’s dozen highly-charged tracks. “The first day of us being in the studio was the first time in 28 years of being a quartet that Hot Water Music had another guy playing with them. I gotta give props to Chuck and Chris, but also the producer Brian McTernan (Turnstile, Converge, Texas is the Reason) for his help navigating how to balance and divide three guitar parts on an album. I’ve never been in that scenario of recording that many guitar tracks for a record before, and I love playing guitar, so it was a blast.”

Climate change and self-care are just a couple of the essential building blocks that Hot Water Music wanted to touch on with their latest effort, and with impactful singles like “Killing Time” loaded and ready for launch, it’s a sure bet that the band is eager to be delivering their emo-philosophies in person. Basking in the golden-glow memories of watching the masters at work, Cresswell has his eyes locked on the horizon as Hot Water Music prepares to Feel the Void with live audiences in 2022. “I’m riding the wave and taking a trip with this band I really love. It does not make a lot of sense to me why I’m here. I’m just so grateful to these guys for letting me in and trusting me with this process and to leave a bit of my own mark. I’m still floored by that “

Catch Hot Water Music performing across Canada in the following cities: 

Saturday, April 9, 2022 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON * – TICKETS
Sunday, April 10, 2022 – London Music Hall – London, ON  – TICKETS
Tuesday, April 12, 2022 – Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB – TICKETS
Wednesday, April 13, 2022 – Union Hall – Edmonton, AB * – TICKETS
Thursday, April 14, 2022 – Palace Theatre – Calgary, AB * – TICKETS

*W/ support from the Menzingers