The scene: sunny California in the 2010s. The characters: Adam Abildgaard, Ted Davis, Nathaniel Blüm, and Nick Duffy, all high school students. Bonded by their love for music, the four became friends and soon began to play together. In 2015, they released their first LP under the name Hot Flash Heat Wave—a name that perfectly suits the vibe of San Francisco, their HQ. Since then, they’ve continued to thrive—they released their Soaked LP in June 2017, and they just wrapped up a tour with No Vacation.
Recently, we were able to chat with Abildgaard and Davis on the phone. We discussed a myriad of topics, from South by Southwest to modern dating culture to things Jim Morrison might say. Check out the conversation below.
TYF: You guys just wrapped up a tour with No Vacation. What are some of your favorite memories from that?
Adam Abildgaard: Man, there’s so many. Going to South by Southwest was really cool. I’ve never really experienced something quite like it. It was kind of overwhelming but really cool to be surrounded with so much music. It’s 24/7, around the clock, and everyone’s playing shows all around you in the city.
Ted Davis: My favorite moments of tour… First of all, No Vacation is just a really cool band. Not only that; they’re really nice. I really like their music. I think I watched their set pretty much every night on the tour, and I never got tired of it. I think one of my favorite things was… We did this really cool cover of “Linger” by the Cranberries at a few of the shows as an encore. The last show in New York was on my birthday, and it was really special for me to perform with them, and that particular time playing it, it really clicked. It was just very emotional, and I feel like I’ll remember that for a long time.
TYF: One of your most well-known songs is “Gutter Girl.” That has a really cool music video. What was the most fun about filming that?
Davis: I really liked how free-form our approach was for that video. We went in with some ideas of what we were doing, but a lot of it was just improvisational and just having fun with the guys in the band and also the director duo that produced our latest video as well. They’re good friends of ours, so it was really fun to travel around the city with them and get into random mischief. I think it shows in the video that it’s not too preconceived.
TYF: Now let’s talk about your album, Soaked.In the first song, “Raindrop,” you have a line that goes, “All right, now make it rain, blue dog.” What’s the inspiration behind that?
Abildgaard: (Laughs) It’s really random. At the time, we were actually covering a bunch of The Doors. We were actually about to play a Halloween set where we were The Doors. For some reason in my mind, that was something Jim Morrison would have said. (Imitating Jim Morrison) “All right, blue dog, make it rain.” (Laughs) Yeah.
TYF: My favorite Jim Morrison quote. I’ve also noticed that nostalgia seems to be a major theme on the album, and that really comes through in songs like “Golden Years” and “Lonely Times.” What would you guys that you’re most nostalgic for?
Davis: We’re kind of all going through this transition right now because we’re living out of San Francisco, and I moved in back with my folks. We’ve been on tour for a good chunk of the summer. Moving out of San Francisco’s been really emotional because I’ve lived there for about eight years, and I’ve definitely been thinking a lot about old times there. There’s a few eras of living there that I was very happy, and I will always love that city. It’s weird finally leaving.
TYF: In the song “Make It Right,” you talk about two distinct people. Are those real people that you know, or are they figments of your imagination?
Davis: Yeah, they are real people. Like, when Nathan’s saying, “I know a boy,” he’s talking, actually, about our drummer Nick. It’s kind of about the juxtaposition of feeling like you have to do certain things in life, like working nine to five or going to school, when all you want to do is play music like you feel your heart telling you to do. I think when he says, “I know a girl,” he’s actually talking about himself but telling the story from someone else’s perspective. Also, a fun fact about. Nick is that he actually lived in the shed in our backyard in San Francisco for about six months. Then he moved into our house. (Laughs)
TYF: You guys have another song called “San Francisco Dating Life.” What’s so problematic about San Francisco dating life? Are there any particular gripes you have with dating life in the city?
Abildgaard: It’s a bit of a song about the city itself. Like, loving San Francisco, but… I mean, everyone talks about it way too much, but the city is changing so rapidly with all the new people moving in, all the money. It’s kind of about that, honestly, more than anything. Not necessarily about actually dating people there. Definitely, because it’s such a small city, though, you do tend you to find yourself in small circles of people. And everyone jokes about how if you go on a date, you probably know at least a handful of people who’ve dated the same person. I think it also speaks to the condition of dating in general nowadays, where it’s super casual and people rarely go on formal dates anymore, and they’re also really afraid of talking about how they really feel with you, and it’s this whole game of texting someone and then ignoring them just the right amount. I think what I threw into the song was touching on that condition, which is more universal than just San Francisco. But yeah, it’s definitely part of our experience there.
TYF: You guys take turns taking the lead on your songs. What would you say are the biggest distinctions between your individual styles?
Abildgaard: I mean, we all feel like we have our fortes. I feel like my natural thing is just to start off with a hook or something really repeatable and then I build it from there. And Ted likes harmonies and complex rhythms. It’s cool because we all start from a different place, and when we bring it together to finish it, we all add our own little touches to it. A lot of songs will be just written and then we’ll make the bassline super groovy and add really cool harmonies or vocal ideas. Like, “All right, this is next level.” (Laughs)
TYF: You guys have talked about drawing inspiration from different eras. If you could time travel to see any concert in history, whose concert would you see?
Abildgaard: It sounds really crazy to go back to the ’60s to see the Beatles or the Beach Boys, when people were going so crazy that they could barely even perform. That’s actually why they stopped playing, I guess—‘cause people were just screaming so loud. Crazy. There’s that story where they unplugged their instruments and no one even knew that they weren’t playing anything because it was so loud. I remember back when we first moved in together, we would sit down and just watch live videos of the Beatles performing. It’s kinda dorky, but we tried sharing a mic like they used to do. They would seamlessly all lean in on one mic and do these three- or four-part harmonies. We tried that at one time, and we actually did it for a few shows… and then our manager at the time was like, “Uh, what’s up with the shared mic? It’s kind of awkward. Did they not give you enough mics?” We were like, “No, we’re trying the Beatles’ thing!” We kind of gave up on that. This is our interview confessional. This is our band blackmail material. (Laughs)
TYF: Summer is on its way; what are you guys looking forward to most about the summer?
Davis: I’m honestly excited to go out on the road again in July. We’re doing another full U.S. tour.
TYF: Finally, is there anything else that you would like to tell the fans about before the end of the interview?
Davis: If you haven’t heard our new track “Glo Ride,” check it out. And we have more new music on the way that we’re going to be releasing soon. The next couple of months, we’ll be putting out new singles leading up to our summer tour.