Waxing Lyrical with HotWax
I chatted with Hastings’ rising stars, HotWax: Labelled ‘Britain’s Next Great Guitar Band’ by NME
Photographs: Alice Denny
When I got into the car the other morning to take my kid to school, the radio defaulted to BBC 6 Music and I immediately heard something I recognised. It was ‘Treasure’ by HotWax and once the song finished, Lauren Laverne was gushing about them being the ones to watch out for in 2023. At this point, I had already interviewed the band for Get Hastings but even in that short period, their potential had grown so much.
They’re played regularly on 6 Music, they supported Supergrass last year, NME recently labeled them as ‘Britain’s next great guitar band’ and they have a summer of music festivals lined up, supporting the likes of The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Royal Blood on their West Coast stint of the US. HotWax are currently balancing on a precipice of dreams come true and I, for one, am thrilled for them. ‘It’s one of the perks of being a rockstar’, I explained to HotWax’s drummer, Alfie Sayers as he seemed genuinely delighted at sinking the golf ball, ‘you get to play crazy golf for free!’. He looked at me with a face that said ‘I could get used to this’ and with the speed at which HotWax are on the rise, I have a feeling he might have to. It has to be said that I was excited too! I was about to do my first ever band interview, and if that Cameron Crowe film was called Almost Fifty rather than Almost Famous we’d be almost in my head.
HotWax arrived at the crazy golf course, excited and beaming, dressed in vintage fake fur, laddered fishnets, heavy eyeliner and baggy jeans. Grunge was definitely the word that sprung to mind but like many bands, HotWax don’t like to put a label on their musical genre, especially when you take their influences into account: Blondie, Hole and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Tallulah), The Foo Fighters and the The Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Lola) and Nirvana, Stereolab and a bit of jazz thrown in for good measure (Alfie).
Lola tried to sum up: ‘Each song is unique. Some songs you’d say are definitely alternative rock or punk and then others you’d say are ‘90s surfy and some I think are pop!’ I asked them about any guilty pleasures. ‘I love Bossa Nova!’ Alfie said with a giggle. ‘Mine is Adele… massively,’ Tallulah admitted.
Yeah we have to do this now, we have one chance to do this so we have to put everything into it’.Lola Sam
Tallulah Sim Savage, is just 18 years old and before HotWax, she was in a band called The Kiffs alongside HotWax bassist, Lola Sam. They met at secondary school (Rye College) where they were put together by their music teacher at just twelve years old. By the age of fourteen they were playing to crowds on Hastings’ Pier and in The Albion upon the stage that we were currently sitting upon, doing their interview. The Kiff’s went their separate ways when those pesky GCSEs got in the way, and it was at music college in Brighton that Lola and Tallulah teamed up with drummer, Alfie.
‘I started playing guitar at the end of primary school and my family are all musicians,’ Lola said when I asked how she first got into music. Tallulah’s parents (her dad is Hastings’ own notorious Dr Savage) also steered her into music she thinks ‘but also living in Hastings and being surrounded by music and art and stuff’, she said.
I asked Tallulah if her performer parents had given her any advice. ‘My mum always tells me to take each day as it comes and I really struggle to do that but I feel it’s important to focus on that one day and give it everything, even when there’s so much going on, and that goes for music or anything’. ‘Yeah we have to do this now,’ said Lola, ‘we have one chance to do this so we have to put everything into it’.
‘I think we really like to stay true to ourselves and never make something because we want it to be a hit or whatever. Luckily, we haven’t had any problems with that so far.’Tallulah Sim Savage
I asked the band how they go about writing songs.
‘It depends on the song really’ says Alfie. Tallulah jumped in, ‘a lot of the time Lola writes the main riffs and she writes a lot of the music and I’ll always write the lyrics separately, by myself and then we’ll bring it all together in rehearsals. But there isn’t just one method’.
I asked how they felt about making commercial compromises in terms of their creativity and Tallulah replied ‘I think we really like to stay true to ourselves and never make something because we want it to be a hit or whatever. Luckily, we haven’t had any problems with that so far.’
When I asked about collaboration, Tallulah and Alfie appeared nonplussed but Lola seemed well up for it. ‘I’d love someone to rap on one of our songs, I think that would be really sick! Like Little Simz or something, can you imagine?’ she said enthusiastically as her bandmates laughed.
‘And if you could support any artist, who would it be?’ I asked.
‘Well I mean, some of the things we’re doing this summer are already like a dream come true for me because we’re playing at All Points East with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and that was always ‘the band’ for me, so I was like oh my god! It’s really exciting’, Tallulah said.
I received a resounding ‘Yes!’ When I asked HotWax if they’d always wanted to be musicians. ‘We’ve all always been around music,’ Alfie told me. ‘…and even before I started playing guitar I knew that’s what I wanted to be,’ said Lola. ‘I’ve always been into visual things,’ said Tallulah, ‘like video and styling and stuff like that and I was really into art but I’ve always loved music the most’.
They also hate the idea of doing something else in the future. ‘No!’ said Lola. ‘It would be cool as well though to create more videos and really get into the visual aspect of the band’, said Tallulah ‘actually, I’d quite like to learn how to produce’ Lola said, ‘to be able to do it all yourself is the dream’. Lola is also very keen to do more covers. ‘We did I Put a Spell on You for Halloween and we did Born This Way for Pride,’ said Tallulah. ‘We definitely have more covers on the horizon’ said Lola, ‘but picking the right song is very important’. ‘We’ve always been very adamant about not doing covers,’said Tallulah. ‘Well YOU’VE been adamant,’ argued Lola, ‘but yes we definitely want to do more.’
Playing live is a big part of being in any band and especially here in Hastings where you can hear live music coming from somewhere at any given time. HotWax love to perform their song Barbie (Not Yours) because it’s fun and usually towards the end of the set, but they also enjoy playing whatever is newest on the set list. ‘I love to play the song A Thousand Times
‘You have to put on a show and you can’t come across as though you don’t know what you’re doing. But also, leaving school and going to music college and fitting in definitely helps. When I left school I was like oh my god, I can completely be myself now… which is good’Tallulah Sim Savage
because it’s very nostalgic to us,’ said Tallulah, ‘we wrote it when we were younger and it always feels special’. They absolutely love to play at Fat Tuesday and anywhere in Hastings but when I spoke to them, HotWax were stoked about their then imminent sold-out gig at The Printworks (which happened on the 20th of May). ‘We’ve grown up going to see bands there,’ said Lola, ‘bands such as Kid Kapichi, and it felt like every week as they did so many gigs there!’
I have known Tallulah since she was a little kid and I’d recognised her to be absolutely lovely, but quite shy and that didn’t quite carolate with the sultry, confident singer and guitarist that we see on stage today . ‘Is this something you’ve had to work on?’ I asked her. ‘I was a weirdly shy person and I still definitely struggle with getting anxious about being confident, but I guess growing up and being on stage gives you this confidence. You have to put on a show and you can’t come across as though you don’t know what you’re doing. But also, leaving school and going to music college and fitting in definitely helps. When I left school I was like oh my god, I can completely be myself now… which is good’ she replied with a look of relief. I completely resonated and I hope that some of the younger people reading this can look forward to being themselves some day soon, as well.
Lola admitted to getting very nervous before a recent gig ‘because my whole family were there,’ she explained. ‘When it’s a crowd that we don’t know I’m okay but I’ll definitely be nervous for the Hastings gig. ‘Well when it’s people you already know, that’s the scariest because they already have an impression of you but recently we’ve been doing gigs where no one knows us and it’s easier.’
‘I mean, just look at the headliners’ she said, ‘every year it’s some old white man. I feel like it’s getting a bit boring and that festivals need to up their game’Lola Sam
We chatted about the music industry and Lola has an issue with the vast amount of very average male bands that are ‘really shit but everyone still seems to really love them’. Weirdly, she failed to remember any band names when I pushed her for details but I’m 99.9% certain she was merely being diplomatic, which was very mature for a nineteen year old musician I thought. ‘I mean, just look at the headliners’ she said, ‘every year it’s some old white man. I feel like it’s getting a bit boring and that festivals need to up their game… except for All Points East of course which will be really good’. Lola Sam: diplomat by day, rock goddess by night!
‘So how did you feel when NME said you were Britain’s Next Great Guitar Band?’ I asked them as our interview came to a close. ‘We had no idea that was going to be the title! It’s a lot to live up to,’ replied Lola. ‘It was hard to get my head around!’ Said Tallulah. ‘It was quite overwhelming,’ admitted Alfie. Lola continued ‘but it actually made me feel really proud. We’ve been doing this for five years now and it makes me look forward to the future.’
To end on a slightly trivial note, I asked what their favourite biscuits are (they didn’t know this but I had a small pack of Jaffa Cakes stuffed away my pocket which I would have happily parted with for the correct answer). ‘Oh my god I love this question!’ Tallulah said with a genuine enthusiasm before selecting Custard Creams. Lola also picked Custard Creams and Alfie struggled to decide between Biscoff and Custard Creams.
‘We’re just a Custard Cream band really!’ Tallulah said with a shrug, and with that, I said my goodbyes, slightly jealous that my life doesn’t consist of hot pants, guitars and music festivals. Oh, well, at least I had a cup of tea and some Jaffa Cakes to look forward to.
A huge thank you to HotWax, Hastings Adventure Golf, and Alice Denny.