Water Wary

Hot Water Music with Bad Religion and Less Than Jake at Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), Saturday (March 16)..


Hot Water Music with Bad Religion and Less Than Jake at Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), Saturday (March 16). $25.50. 416-870-8000

Rating: NNNNN

if there exists a musician who doesn’t have a healthy aversion to being slapped with a genre label, I have yet to meet him. So when I throw the word “emo” at Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan and he responds with denial, I feel that we’re all doing our jobs. It’s like smacking a newborn baby’s ass to make sure it cries.

“Well,” concedes the guitarist and vocalist, “if you’re referring to the word “emotional’….” No, I’m referring to the word “zucchini.” Sheesh.

Of course I’m referring to the word “emotional,” and to a genre of hardcore bands who expressively warble earnest, introspective lyrics.

Over a six-year career that’s spawned seven albums, the Gainsville, Florida-based band, who blend diverse influences including rock, country and jazz into a fluid hardcore base, have been nothing if not earnest.

These are guys who haven’t gone through one lineup change, cuz they’re such darned good friends (one brief bust-up, but it didn’t last), guys who say things like “We want to be better musicians, better friends, a better band — you know, better people.”

Their glass is always half-full. Even fuller now that they’ve joined up with Epitaph for their very fun and raucous latest release, A Flight And A Crash. Hot Water’s tour with Bad Religion and Less Than Jake hits town Saturday at Kool Haus.

“We try to include every aspect of a day-to-day spectrum of feelings,” explains Ragan, who likes to call places magical or beautiful and says honesty should always be the first rule.

“Every feeling that we have is extremely important. We believe in ourselves and in what we do.”

I have to admit that such sincerity is kind of refreshing — a sentiment obviously shared by an intensely loyal following and by Magnet magazine, which referred to HWM as the best punk band on the planet.

But come on. Doesn’t this guy tell little white lies or something?

“Sure, my mom used to spank my hand with a ruler for that.”

He does not reveal said lies, nor will he divulge the meanest thing he’s ever done. I keep needling. What about practical jokes? You must play jokes on each other.

“Oh, yeah. You know how when you leave fish in unsuspected places (like hidden on another band’s bus), it starts to stink after a while?”

Ha ha. Gross. I never thought of that. What a great idea. Now my glass is half-full, too.

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