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interview: hot flash heat wave

Photo by Ryan Molnar

Bay Area indie rock group Hot Flash Heat Wave recently released a new single called “Grudge.” This single had an interesting mix of goth and pop influences that feel fresh and new. The accompanying music video is a trip, it transports you into the world of retro video games. Everything about it is perfect–the decor, the editing, and it’s one of the best videos I’ve seen in a long time. This is a great start for the band’s new chapter they’re beginning. I talked with the members of the band: Ted Davis, Adam Abilgaard, and Nick Duggy, about the single and what’s next for the band. 


How did the band start?

Adam: Well me and Nick started the band, like right after high school, it was more of just a feel-good, for fun project that we would perform at garage shows. Raw emotion, improvisation performances.

Ted: And then I joined in like 2012 and that’s when we were a band in San Francisco and wrote a couple of the albums that we released and that’s led us to here. 


Do you miss San Francisco?

Adam: Yeah, I feel like towards the end of our stay we were all kind of ready to leave, but there’s so many good times I look back on.

Ted: I went back there to get a tattoo recently and I was walking around my old neighborhood and it was super nostalgic. 


Who are some of your influences for the band?

Adam: We have so many influences, but I feel like there’s a lot of like 80s stuff for me, like the Smiths or My Bloody Valentine. Wow, I totally just forgot all the other bands. I like Sade or Bill Withers, you know some soul as well. What do you think Ted?

Ted: I’ve been listening to a ton of Charlie XCX this year. And I listened to the new Tame Impala record when we were in Europe a lot and Juice World, that’s honestly what I’ve been listening to this year. I’d say the most formative bands for me were The Strokes and Toro Y Moi and I’ve always loved Frank Ocean.

Nick: I’d probably throw a few more in there like Broadcast and Porches. Listening to a lot of Ricky Music, like parts of that are super sick. Formative bands like Beach Boys, and the Beatles [are] the oldest stuff, but in terms of newer stuff like the Drums, I feel like they’re really formative for me. Just that really kind of catchy, simple kind of driving rock music. I think that was definitely like an early influence for us when we first got started.

Adam: Nick used to write all these hella catchy guitar riffs that were kind of just… I don’t know, I guess our original sound was based off of Nick’s guitar and compositions. And then me and Ted would put vocals and kind of finish off the songs. 


What three words would you use to describe the band’s sound right now?

Adam: Teardrops.

Ted: Cerebral. 

Nick: I want to say indie but that’s like a genre, maybe rock. I don’t know. Alright. Cerebral, Teardrop, Goth. There you go. 


What song do you miss playing live the most? 

All: “Grudge.”

Adam: It’s always fun to play new songs when you’re on the road a lot, because once you tour an album a couple of times it’s almost like going through the motions. I’m looking forward to playing all our brand new music when we get to go on the road.


So talking about “Grudge,” what was the inspiration behind that song and the music video?

Adam: This song started when I got this new guitar and I was just so excited to play and it kind of just wrote itself. I was just jamming around and wrote most of the entire song on guitar and then ended up singing on it before we went on tour and during our European tour. And it was kind of like a weird feeling. It felt like being in the UK and the foggy, kind of dark emotional state, if that makes sense. I think both the song and the video kind of represent this vision we have for our new project, which is aesthetically sort of a late-nineties vibe visually and then we wanted to make new wave sounding songs, taking from cool goth bands in the 80s like Cocteau Twins and Tears for Fears and take some of those influences while bridging the gap between Neapolitan and Mood Ring in terms of our sound.


Any hints for projects that might be coming soon?

Adam: We’re working on an album, which “Grudge” is the first single from but yeah, we have an announcement coming pretty soon.


Their clear vision for what they want their new sound to be really excites me. I feel like nobody is really mixing their influences together with new wave music. If what’s coming up next is anything like “Grudge,” I’m sold. I can’t wait to see what the group has in store and hopefully see them live again.

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