Hot Cross interview

Originally published in ‘zine issue #26, 2002

Hot Cross "A New Set of Lungs" album cover

Jeff submitted the following interview with HotCross.

Hot Cross is a great emotional hardcore band that has quickly been getting quite a reputation all around the world. Though they are often compared to their previous efforts in bands, Hot Cross definitely holds their own compared to their previous endeavors and this band will surely continue to make a name for themselves in the coming years. Matt Smith, who fills the role of guitarist in the band, was kind enough to agree to this interview via email for Disposable Underground.

D.U.: Do you feel like there were any expectations of your band when you first started, given the previous bands that some of you have been in?

Matt: Yup. People were like, “Oh, the new Saetia/You & I/Neil Perry/Off Minor band,” which is a blessing and a curse. We never tried to play it down or flaunt anything, or use it to “market” Hot Cross or whatever, but some of our bands have this weird post-mortem popularity. It was just weird that people wanted to hear us despite us being such a new band and us not really having paid our dues. With the whole ex-band thing you have an instant audience, but also an instant set of expectations. I’d really rather people don’t acknowledge our old bands as comparison only because it is the past and this is what we’re up to now. But when kids book shows, they’ll write “ex-whatever” because there’s a better chance kids will show up. It’s just the way things work, I guess. We’re proud of what we did, but actively riding that shit to garner interest in stuff that isn’t really related is rather despicable. I’ve seen hardcore bands use their history to sell their weird projects that really have nothing to do with hardcore, and while it’s cool to do new things, you’d think saying “ex-brutal hardcore” to sell, say, your post-indie electronic noodlings or Brit rock worship is a bad idea, but people do it. I don’t get that shit at all.

“I still haven’t figured out why I haven’t outgrown this shit yet and moved onto insipid, jaded indie-rock at this point and cashed in.”

You all just did a short European tour this past summer. How does playing punk shows in Europe differ from the U.S.?

We’d heard stories about bands going over there and having lots of fun, but we weren’t prepared for how enthusiastic the kids would be, or the degree to which that continent has its shit together where DIY hardcore is concerned. Every night, we’d get to the venue, get fed a huge vegan meal, play, hang out, go to sleep, and when we woke up the next day, there was breakfast waiting for us. The way things were set up, the venues were usually squats but not like we have here. These buildings were in good condition, there were ridiculous pro sound systems in all the squats (i.e., we’d get our drums mic’d and everything), there were bunks upstairs (and often laundry facilities) for the bands to use, and kids just seemed a lot more stoked about what was going on. Bands seemed more appreciated and kids would come right up and talk to you, even if it was to say that they thought you sucked. The whole nihilism and fashion ridiculousness doesn’t seem to have caught on over there the way it has here, and there are people of all ages involved as opposed to having people drop out as soon as their collegiate career is over. Their spaces have all the benefits of a professional club without all the bullshit. Also, kids get pissed if you play for 15 to 20 minutes, and unlike here, only two-to-three bands will play any given show. Their scene isn’t so supersaturated that every show has to be a mini-fest, and as a result people are less likely to get overexposed and bored by the time the last band goes on 74 hours after the show starts.

If you could hand pick a show for Hot Cross to play, who would the show be with and where would it be?

I’d want to play with I’d say Misfits circa ’83, Master of Puppets-era Metallica, Emperor, The VSS, and pretty much any band Level Plane has released a record for, in Saarbrücken, because that place was ridiculous when we played there. Everyone knew our lyrics, even though we were in a different country not speaking their language. What’s up with that?

What are your feelings on the possibility that you will be balding and have grey hair while jumping around with a punk band?

Probably about equal to my feelings on having a growing gut. It’s weird; there are times I start feeling like the weird, creepy old dude in the scene. It sucks. I still haven’t figured out why I haven’t outgrown this shit yet and moved onto insipid, jaded indie-rock at this point and cashed in.

Hot Cross’s new CD A New Set of Lungs is available from Level Plane Records,


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