The inside of Manchester’s Deaf Institute is like a maze. The building is an old gothic masterpiece, but as you traverse beyond the stage, through corridors and up bold metalic staircases, the array of hallways spits you out into a sparse room.
A kettle and a microwave are perched upon a section of worktop which sits on a wall adorned with graffiti from previous Deaf Institute performers. The three members of HotWax are gathered at the table, with bassist Lola Sam sprawled on one sofa, and her bandmates Tallulah Sim-Savage (guitar, vox) and Alfie Sayer (drums) sitting opposite.
The trio are on the up and up. Having released one EP already this year (the fantastically noisy A Thousand Times), they’re gearing up to launch the second extended player imminently. “We had already recorded the first EP before getting signed” explains Tallulah Sim-Savage: “We had like five singles out, which we put out ourselves, it was ready so we just released it”. The trio are in high spirits before playing the legendary Manchester venue; and who wouldn’t be with the year HotWax have had. Sim-Savage reiterates the point: “It’s been a really good year… Probably like, our best year so far.”
They played an early slot at All Points East earlier in the summer, opening the same stage later graced by Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ stage. “It was insane, we were opening up for Yeah Yeah Yeahs and they’re one of my favourite bands,” Sim-Savage looks thrilled just to relive the memory, let alone play the actual gig. “We felt so lucky to be on a lineup that amazing, there were so many bands we love”: their adoration for NYC legends Yeah Yeah Yeahs is apparent and the band elaborates with glee.
Again, Tallulah Sim-Savage’s eyes light up at the mere mention of a musical hero; “[Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist] Karen O walked over, and I just shouted… it was amazing, I had to sit down afterwards!” The band are unashamed in their fandom, which is refreshing. “I didn’t want to fan-girl too much though, it’s a tricky line to walk” she continues. “I didn’t really say too much because I didn’t want to get it wrong”.
It’s clear that the band are influenced by their heroes, and Sim-Savage tells of how she and Sam have been influenced, “Karen O is a vocal influence for sure, we even covered Fever to Tell in our old band”, prior to the arrival of Alfie Sayer. Sim-Savage and Sam are clearly thick as thieves, having collaborated musically since the age of twelve.
The pair met in secondary school, and picked up Sayers a few years later “Lola dropped out of music college and I didn’t love it,” Tallulah recounts her academic distaste with disdain. “Then we met Alfie, we thought he was cool but he was in another band at the time”, but the pull of HotWax lured Sayer away and the band as we know them was born. With this added heft to their rhythm section, HotWax flourished. “When he [Sayers] joined, we started to get more and more gigs. Then we met our manager in Hastings after playing at the Fish Cafe beach bar, we went for a coffee with her and things just kicked up from then.”
The new EP arrives next week and it sounds phenomenal: HotWax have honed their sound quickly, and – through a litany of pedals and cacoughenous drumming – they achieve a colossal wall of sound, with distinct flavours of grunge and American hardcore.
Sam and Sim-Savage site Hole as a key influence in our conversation, as well as Betty Davis. “We all have very different influences and we listen to I think that kind of music, grunge music is probably the crossover for us all”, the three nod in a moment of mutual grunge appreciation before Sayers elaborates and explains. “I like a lot of jazz and a lot of dance music, I spent time in other bands, playing stuff that was more similar to that. It does inform [his drumming] and listening and interpreting music like that has really helped me grow as a drummer”.
HotWax have a fantastic bond, and the sheer joy is palpable when you watch them play. Mere hours later, they tear the roof off of Deaf Institute, constantly laughing and joking with each other between sips of imported lager.
Their trajectory is seemingly limitless, and an upcoming support slot that takes them to America for the first time “I don’t know what I’m feeling. I am really nervous, but until it happens, I don’t know what to expect!” explains Sayers. They’re excitable and ready to take on the world, which shines through in spades in both their recorded work and live shows. HotWax are shooting for the moon… and you wouldn’t bet against them reaching it.
HotWax’s new EP, Invite Me, Kindly, arrives 18th October via Marathon Artists.