One chilly November afternoon, a bright orange and black logo crossed my computer screen for a button order. The image was of a rock-and-roll-styled girl laughing modestly, with text ‘The Hot Place’ strategically placed… between her legs!
I thought to myself, “Ok, I need to know what this logo is all ABOUT”. Turns out, The Hot Place is an awesome band with a brand new album out. A few tracks into my first listen, I realized I needed to get an interview with writer, composer, and singer, Lisa King. Her music, her vibe, and her story is just too fascinating to pass up. So, here it is! Please enjoy this chat with Lisa, and be sure to check out “The Language of Birds” available on Etsy, Bandcamp, and locally if you are in Atlanta.
Congrats on the release of your new album, “The Language of Birds”! How would you describe the overall sound and vibe?
I wanted to create an album that encompassed all of the 60’s and 80’s influences I grew up with, and I also wanted to record in a really top-notch studio with vintage analog gear, to really get an authentic experience from those eras. I think the overall sound is very pop-rock, with a little bit of psychedelia and post-punk atmospherics. Maybe a little gothy, like The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees, but with stretches that might remind listeners of The Doors or Pink Floyd. As the vocalist and bassist for the band, I think the album has a lot of influence driven by bass guitar. I’ve had fans compare my vocals to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Blondie, and Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, but it’s kind of hard to distance yourself from your own voice, and be objective. My guitar player has always referred to me as “The Punk Rock Karen Carpenter!”
Do you have a favorite song from the collection?
It’s funny, I have favorite songs to play, and favorites to listen to. I really enjoy playing “Petals of Ruin”, “Sad”, “Run Away Today”, and “Begin the Fall” live. I think when I listen to the finished album, “20th Century” and “Nighttime Summerman” remain my favorites. I’m really proud of how those tracks turned out. Perhaps the crowning achievement for me was when the legendary Richard Lloyd (ex-Television guitarist) agreed to play the solo in “Saturn Moved”. That really made that song a stand out, and every time I hear his guitar work on Track Two, I am amazed and humbled.
If I understand correctly, you wrote all of the music yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
I generally start with either the piano, guitar, or bass. There are songs that seem to just come to me, fully formed, that only require a little bit of tweaking. Then there are songs based on perhaps a bass line, or guitar riff that I stumble upon.
Usually, I try to let the song organically develop, and depending on the mood it naturally evokes, I will write melody or lyrics. I have notebooks full of lyrics that I keep on hand, and often a line or two of my poetry will come to mind for a particular song.
I’ve been working on writing new material on the piano, and writing things more intentionally, in keys that fit my voice, v/s a more organic songwriting style. I can both read and write music, so I’m curious to see if I set pen to paper and try scoring things out in advance, how that will affect the sound of my songs. Also, I’m really enjoying writing new songs within the context of the band. Where we all sit down and write things together in the studio. That’s where the real magic happens.
You’ve been making music from a very young age. What records, tapes, and CDs were you into growing up?
That’s right! In fact two songs on this album, “Run Away Today” and “Two Steps Ahead” were the very first songs I wrote, when I was a tween. I played piano as a child, and listened to a lot of classical music. The more moody style of Beethoven, Satie, Mozart, and Chopin were my favorites. I grew up listening to my Mom and Dad’s record collection, and really gravitated to The Doors first album, Led Zeppelin, The Byrds, and Pink Floyd. My Dad had a lot of jazz, and I really loved Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and some surf music like The Ventures. I even stumbled across the strange atmospherics of Martin Denny in my Pop’s collection. Then I discovered new-wave bands like A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Howard Jones and the like, which developed into a serious adoration for the British post-punk scene: Joy Division, The Cure, Cocteau Twins, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The Church, (though they are technically Australian.) I’ve always had a very broad ear and open mind, plus I worked in record stores in my teens and college years, so I was exposed to everything from Glenn Branca to Glenn Miller.
You’re a multi-talented lady! I see that you have a degree in Fine Art from Georgia State University. What are your favorite mediums and materials?
I started out painting in high school, and earned a scholarship to The Savannah College of Art & Design. Visual Art has always been a passion of mine, and I was a Painting major. Along the way, I moved back to Atlanta from Savannah, with a brief year living in New Orleans, and I discovered Printmaking. Etching in particular called to me. There have been years in which I barely made any music at all, but I was extremely prolific in the painting or printmaking studio. Both the discipline of Art and Music are complimentary to me, so they blend together pretty well. I’m a professional Etsy seller at the moment, and I craft a lot of art for my shop Wax & Wane.
So, what’s the next step for The Hot Place? Are you busy performing or are you focusing on creating new songs?
We just played our debut gig at The Star Bar in Atlanta, Ga. in September, and we are playing again on Saturday, Nov. 15th at Little Tree Studios in Avondale Estates, Ga. for our LP release party. We will be performing our new record “The Language of Birds” in its entirety, which is really exciting. I think that will probably be the last show of 2014, because the Holidays are a very busy time for my Etsy shop, and for the rest of the band members. We are planning to go back into the studio this Winter, and record our second album. I’d love to come back out in the Spring and support Record Store Day 2015, and then play some more local live shows, and some regional tours next year. I also started my own record label, No Big Wheel Records, and we are planning to release material by Atlanta bands Tenguzame, The Casual Ties, and The New Synthetics, as well as new stuff by The Hot Place.
It’s always refreshing to meet artists who have both passion and drive! Where can we buy the album and find out more about you?
You can buy the album in Atlanta at your fine, local, independent record shops: Wax N Facts, Criminal Records, and Decatur CD. You can also buy the album directly from me in my Etsy shop.
If you prefer to stream and download your music, then head right over to our Bandcamp page! You can preview the album for free, and download a digital copy with tons of artwork for just $10.