For a band in the midst of a European tour that includes a stop in Turkey, Hot Hot Heat have the wrong movie in rotation on their bus.
"We just watched 'Midnight Express,' and I don't know if you're familiar with it, but it definitely gets you excited to go to Turkey, that's for sure," guitarist Luke Paquin said with a sarcastic smile, referring to the 1978 movie about an American drug smuggler brutalized in a foreign prison.
"I think we're scared of getting thrown into a Turkish prison, honestly," singer Steve Bays said.
And that's on top of the band's other great fear of traveling across the pond: "I've never seen an ice cube in Europe," drummer Paul Hawley noted. "So I'm a bit freaked."
For a band called Hot Hot Heat, that might be a legitimate concern, especially since the Canadian rockers will be working overtime while hitting this weekend's Reading and Leeds fests plus awesomely named events like the Monsters of Spex Festival in Germany or Scotland's the Liquid Rooms.
"We're trying to write the next album while we're on the road, kind of like Led Zeppelin did it in their early days," Bays explained. "I know some of my favorite ideas come at like 8 in the morning, so I've just been an insomniac the last little while, like literally just up till 10 a.m. and I'll sleep for like three or four hours. And some of the best stuff comes out of that."
Bays then takes those ideas to the band during soundcheck, which doubles as a two-hour rehearsal.
"The last record, when we were on tour, we were so busy just living life and exploiting all the wonderful things about touring, but this time we really want to write the next record," Bays said. "We want the next record to just come out as soon as it can. ... Well, maybe not as soon as it can."
Bays said the new tunes are definitely taking on a different vibe than tracks on Elevator or Make Up the Breakdown, but it's too early to describe the sound exactly. "I love it, but I always love new stuff," Bays said.
And he'll have plenty of time to make even more of that new stuff, because it looks like Hot Hot Heat's tour schedule just got a bit longer. On Tuesday (August 23), a spokesperson for the band's label confirmed that they've been tapped to open a handful of dates on this fall's big-ticket Foo Fighters/ Weezer co-headlining jaunt (see "Foo Fighters/ Weezer Tour Confirmed — But The Suspense Continues ..."). The Heat will join up on October 13 in Philadelphia and will play through October 15 in Worcester, Massachusetts, with more dates expected to be announced shortly.
But all that touring has done them a world of good. Aside from giving them endless time to work on a new album, life on the road has also inspired their choice for the third single off Elevator, "You Owe Me an I.O.U."
"Since we've been touring the last four months or so, the crowd always jumps to it like it's a single or something, even though it never was a single," Bays said. "So it seemed like the obvious choice."
Bays was reluctant to explain the lyrics, but the track seems to deal with relationship issues judging by lines such as, "And the only thing constant was the constant reminder she'd never change."
"It's got the best bridge on the album," Bays offered. "If there's any bridge connoisseurs out there, it's got a good bridge."
"It's kind of like Hot Hot Heat's 'Bulls on Parade,' really," Paquin joked, drawing a parallel to Rage Against the Machine's angry anthem.
For the "I.O.U." video, the band will again work with Mark Webb, who directed their Italian-noir inspired "Middle of Nowhere" clip (see "Hot Hot Heat Lament Road Life, Prepare To Hit U.S. Highways").
"We're going to shoot the video in Spain, and there'll be water involved — and I'm going to leave it at that," Hawley said.
"We haven't decided on everything yet, but ... I just wanted a scene where I'm holding up my own head and cutting it off at the neck and there's just blood dripping down," Bays added.
Now that's a man who's watched too much "Midnight Express."