NUVO Interview: Chuck Ragan

 

Hot Water Music might just be the most underrated band of the ‘90s, certainly in the same boat as Pavement, the Misfits, the Pixies, and Operation Ivy, bands that never sold a lot of records in their short existence, but influenced an entire generation of underground (and sometimes mainstream) music. HWM’s gritty, honest, melodic, emotional music struck a chord with almost anyone adventurous enough to stumble upon them. Like Pavement and the other aforementioned dead legends, HWM is no longer with us, but lead singer Chuck Ragan is soldiering on solo.

“Basically, in Hot Water Music, I got extremely, extremely burnt out,” Ragan says. “No matter how much you love something, it can still get old. To keep doing it would have degraded everything HWM stood for, and everything that we sung about.”

Ragan’s solo sound, while just as impassioned as his HWM material, is quite different sonically. His switch from rowdy, booze-soaked punk rock to rowdy, booze-soaked folk music marks a pleasant trend in music, which includes gritty favorites like Against Me! and Lawrence Arms stripping their heavy electric sound into simple acoustic folk, kind of like Bob Dylan in reverse.

“With punk and country, the music is definitely different but ethically, spiritually and inspirationally, it’s all the same stuff,” Ragan explains. “It’s all about finding freedom of expression and finding ground to stand on. It doesn’t have to sound good, it just has to feel right, and that’s the bond between punk and country.”

The “Revival Tour” features not only Ragan, but also Tim Barry of legendary southern punk act Avail and Ben Nichols of tried-and-true folk-punk act Lucero. Various guests will be joining them on different legs of the tour, including Tom Gabel of Against Me!, Chris McCaughan of the Lawrence Arms and Frank Turner (who is swinging through Indianapolis Oct. 9). The Bloomington date features Austin Lucas. Lucas, a son of Bloomington, has received national recognition for his honest bluegrass music. The show is in a roundtable format, with all four musicians playing solo and together at various times, in the tradition of old folk and bluegrass gatherings.

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