Choosing a band name that sounds like a delicious confectionery sold in ’50s American diners is an appropriate move for The Hot Melts. Their distinctive, saccharine, pop-rock sound would be too much, were it not for the chunky rock riffs they mix in - overall a perfect choice for the jukebox at the youth club disco.
Their music is classic rock ‘n’ roll updated to fit their northern, Liverpool background, as frontman Will Baylis explains. “I like doomy and gloomy lyrics, set to a backdrop of happy music. You listen to Chuck Berry and Elvis, all these songs that are just about heartbreak and losing your love and being awful at life, up against these really great hooks, harmonies and riffs - that’s what I love about old rock‘n’roll.”
Far from being throwbacks, The Hot Melts are riding the current trend of smart, guitar-driven pop with lyrics that you can actually hear and sing-along to, and they’ve acquired a very large (and young) fanbase as a result, though Will acknowledges they’re not to everyone’s tastes. “I’d say we’re unpop - we play songs about being unpopular.” Why so unpopular? “I’m really into the Katy Perry album at the moment.” Ah. “I think a lot of the time you can trust more in pop music. Even though it may seem corrupt, sometimes it’s more true than all these bands who are pretending they’re really cool.”
The band got together through schools, shit jobs and other tentative efforts at rock bands while they were growing up in and around the Wirral. “I met Jack, our drummer, through my sister who was his teacher. They used to sneak off and go and have cigarettes behind the bike sheds together. Jamie, the bass player, I met pushing trolleys at Safeway, and I had just started going out with his best friend’s ex-girlfriend, so we weren’t technically allowed to be friends.” Jonny, the guitarist, was drafted in from another band to complete the line-up and The Hot Melts cemented their aspiration to record great music, not just to play live shows; the recording aspect being much harder. “I mean, if you get a massive PA and lights, a whole of load of booze and some girls together and listen to an album in your house then obviously it’s going to sound amazing. I think it’s a lot more difficult to make music that people will actually sit down and listen to.”
It remains to be seen whether the SXSW audience will take to The Hot Melts’ pop songs, being as they are so likeable. But before the band start throwing in dissonance they remain, currently, a British gem, poised to takeover teenage bedrooms across the country.
Word By: Jonny Ensall