Today’s Feature, September 20th & 21st: HOTBOX

September 20, 2007 at 9:53 am (Today's Feature)


Every artist we feature on has a story to tell – something that pops out at you over everything else. Sometimes these artists are the next best thing… sometimes they possess a talent that is exceptionally unique… and sometimes a PensEyeView artist is just plain too good to be true. So what’s the story on Hotbox? A 5-piece band out of small-town USA, Westminster, MD consisting of Dave Wah, Mike Stewart, Matt Wood, Wesley Howard and Joel Miller; Hotbox is a band, a sound and a sensation that’s hard to explain.

Simply put, these guys don’t have just one story. Much like the music they make, their story contains several ingredients that are integral to the final product. I have been to Hotbox shows before, and their performance calls on so much from the senses. The percussion will put your feet in motion, but before you can concentrate on your next step, a lyric will seize your thoughts. You’ll freeze, but that’s what makes their shows so great – that and the fact Wah himself refers to the events as simply “really big parties.”

I suppose this is what I enjoy most about Hotbox – the close attention to lyrics. While they work hard to produce an enjoyable beat, they’ll also connect with your experience (a reliable technique to ensure that your time at the show is remembered). While some musicians may neglect to write something meaningful, Hotbox focuses on understanding…on “observations on life and contradictions of every sort.”

Keep an eye out for Hotbox and if you’re in the Baltimore area, check them out at the 8×10 in Federal Hill on September 21st. Go ahead and get into their XXQ’s, but also check out how Hotbox describes themselves below. It about sums up what I was trying to say about having more than just one story.
“Hotbox… it’s like Jay-Z and Pete Wentz fronting a band with a voice like Paul Simon with a drink in his hand… it’s the soundtrack to a party put on by Sublime, with rhythms best fit for mosh pits and drum lines… two helpings of arrogance with depression on the side… it’s the truth you can shake your ass to…” Check out their XXQs…

XXQs: HOTBOX (Dave Wah) (PEV)How and when did you first get into music and how did the band form?

Daivd Wah (DW): We all got into playing music at different times… Wesley and Joel started in a drum line together as kids, Stewart’s been playing guitar forever, and me and woodrow started playing about 4 years ago.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you realized that music was what you all wanted to do as a career

DW: When I recorded my first shitty little CD a few years ago and people actually listened to it…

PEV: What artists would you compare your band to

DW: No one else. I’m not sure how the rest of the band feels, but I truly believe that the music we are making now has more value than anything out there right now… the main difference in our music is the lyrics, and the energy of our live show. I think most bands don’t take the time to write at all, or take the time to write something clever or even remotely meaningful.

PEV: You’re from smalltown USA, Westminster, MD. Did that have any affect on your music

DW: Yeah definitely. We grew up with some pretty f**ked up individuals, we’re close to the city and to the country, so we’ve seen it all. When you come from a small town, you either embrace it and join the community or you despise it and yearn for more.Our music describes our lifestyle and our experiences, and I think a lot of people can relate to it…

PEV: You have a pretty loyal following in the Baltimore area. Have you heard/seen the groups called, “HotBox rocks my panties off” Thoughts ?

DW: I haven’t heard of any of that. I just think people like to sing along and dance to our music. Our shows are really just big parties.

PEV: You describe your music as “Like Jay-Z and Pete Wentz fronting a band with a voice like Paul Simon with a drink in his hand.” How’d you come to that

DW: I thought it was clever when I first came up with it. It just sounds stupid now. The lyrics have a hip-hop feel to them, not in subject matter, but similarities rhythmically and in the way they describe a lifestyle, plus I’m not afraid of saying “f**k you”… combine that with the sing along melodies of a band like FOB, without the whining. The Paul Simon part describes the fusion of different styles of music

PEV: Do you remember the first live performance you ever did

DW: Our first Hotbox show was the shit… we had all been in successful bands before, so it was packed… just a lot of energy and a lot of hype.

PEV: What’s the hardest part you face breaking into the music scene right now

DW: What music scene?

PEV: When you aren’t writing or performing, what can we find you doing

DW: Sleeping… or thinking about writing and performing, or studying what other people are doing, it’s really an unhealthy obsession.

PEV: Is there a certain atmosphere you surround yourself in when you write music

DW: Not really… it just kinda hits me. I get a pain in my chest and just have to write something… it’s like creative heartburn.

PEV: What do all your friends and family think of HotBox

DW: I’m pretty sure all our friends love it. Wesley’s parents love it, Stewarts parents came to a few shows… my dad’s never heard me play.

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist, alive or deceased, who would it be and why

DW: Probably Jesse Lacey from a band called Brand New… he’s a true artist, not a lot of musicians/songwriters can honestly say that these days. His lyrics are pure poetry. I would’ve said Bob Dylan in his prime, but we have such different styles, i don’t think we could relate.

PEV: If I were to walk into your house right now, what is one thing I would be surprised to find

DW: A bunch of boxes, cuz I’m getting kicked out.

PEV: There are heated debates about offering free music online. What is your opinion

DW: Take it. When you write it, the song is still yours… then when you play it for people, you’re sharing it… once you record a song, it belongs to whoever wants to hear it… I’d be lucky if a couple million people wanted to hear my songs…

PEV: What can someone expect from a live Hotbox show

DW: You’d kinda have to ask a fan about that. Our experience at shows is sooo different from the experiences of the people on the other side of the mics.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live

DW: Having people sing the words back to you.

PEV: Is there an upcoming band or singer right now that you think we should be looking out for

DW: Besides us, no one else really comes to mind. The band might have a different answer, but they’re a little more respectful than me.

PEV: The most embarrassing moment for Hotbox was?

DW: Nothing too bad yet. I guess if you call waking up broke everyday, breaking our backs to play shit gigs, dreaming for a future like a four year old at Disneyworld embarrassing, then I am the American Embarrassment.

PEV: What would you say are the main themes found in your music and songs

DW: Observations on life and contradictions of every sort… I’m cocky in one verse and suicidal in the next. I write about love but I also write about one night stands. I write about partying, but I also talk about how lame it is. I call a lot of people out, including myself.

PEV: So, what is next for Hotbox

DW: We could be famous in a year or I could be dead tomorrow…

For more information on HOTBOX, check out 


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