March 5, 2019 Interview – The Hots
Out of Australia, The Hots are ready to scorch North America with their ball-to-the-wall brand of Rock-n-Roll music. A duo made up of energetic married couple Ronnie Simmons (guitar) and Foxie Kelly (vocals), the two combine their love for Rock music and each other on their debut, self-titled EP, which dropped back in late 2018.
An EP produced by Mark Orpitz (AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, John Paul Young), it is a great introduction to their style and a bright future ahead. The only question left is, are you ready to be set a flame by The Hots? Excited about the future, Ronnie Simmons and Foxie Kelly sat down to chat about the formation of the band, coming out to Los Angeles, plans for the rest of 2019, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – The Hots are a Rock-n-Roll band through and through. Briefly tell us, how did the project take shape?
Ronnie Simmons – Foxie and I re-connected after many years when she was out in L.A. working on a solo record. I was working as a hired gun out here and playing guitar for Richie Ramone at the time. We began to write songs together and her voice and songwriting blew me away. I knew I had to work with her.
Back in Australia in early 2017, we put a band together and went out into regional Australia and played some pubs and it went off! So, whilst back on the road touring with Richie for the rest of the year around the world, we continued to write songs via correspondence until we got married in August that year. We then hit the studio with Mark Opitz, shot the “Before You” music video in 2018, flew back out to L.A., and now here we are!
Cryptic Rock – Very cool! The band is comprised of yourself and Foxie. Interestingly, you two are a married couple. Was music one of the forces that brought you two together? That said, what is it like working with your spouse creatively?
Ronnie Simmons – I believe Dee Dee Ramone said that being in a band is working a 24-hour a day job. If that is the case, then being married to your bandmate is like finding a 25th hour in the day to then go and work in. We spend every minute of the day together, so whenever creativity strikes or duty calls, regardless of what we are doing or where we are – it can be time to put the work hat on. This is also amplified at times by the fact we may need to operate in different time zones, coming from Sydney and now living in L.A.
We are both very driven and workaholics, so the hardest part is forcing ourselves to relax because there’s always something that needs to be done; be it finishing a lyric or melody, to replying to an email or making a phone call. We love what we do, love each other, and are grateful we have both found someone to share this experience with.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. It is always special to find something you love, but even more special doing it with someone you love. As mentioned, The Hots is an old-school leaning Rock band with a ton of attitude. When you two began playing together, was it clear you had the same vision for the band?
Ronnie Simmons – Definitely. We wanted to build a band with a strong female lead who is not only tough, but also sexy. Music that both guys and girls will like, that can be heavy and tough, but still melodic and, at times, mysterious. We wanted to play authentic Hard Rock like our heroes did, without relying too heavily on computers or backing tracks. Whether we are on the stage of a pub in regional Australia or a venue in Hollywood, we want to be able to stand proudly and know we are being true to ourselves.
Cryptic Rock – It works very well. You have played with bands such as Rose Tattoo and The Screaming Jets. What do you take away from those experiences that you bring to The Hots?
Ronnie Simmons – The importance of legacy, authenticity, and treating your fans with respect and gratitude; say what you mean and mean what you say, play from the heart, and don’t sweat the small stuff. What you leave behind is what you are going to be remembered by in this world, so make it count!
Cryptic Rock – That is a good outlook: we all should make the most of what we have in life. Foxie, you certainly have a great, passionate voice for Rock. At what age did you realize that Rock-n-Roll was the path for you?
Foxie Kelly – Very young. I was born into a Rock-n-Roll family. My dad was a Progressive Rock drummer and my mum used to play Black Sabbath in the car on the way to school. I consider myself very lucky that they have supported me to follow my dreams. My dad used to give me talks about the importance of being in a band and giving it your all before life gets in the way. Even if I tried to get away from Rock-n-Roll, I couldn’t. It’s in my blood and I’m proud that it’s a part of who I am.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly seems as if you have found your calling. The Hots recently released your debut EP back in November. A good introduction to the band, what was the writing and recording process like?
Ronnie Simmons – The writing process happened initially very naturally: we just sat down with acoustic guitars and within 20 minutes we had “Please Me,” the first song. That’s the sound of the band coming together right there. Recording the EP was an amazing experience; we were invited to fly to work with legendary Aussie Rock Producer Mark Opitz at a recording studio that was built inside a house in Brunswick. We tracked everything with our band live in one room with no click track, just like he did with AC/DC on Powerage (1978).
Mark insisted, “This is how those records were done and why they sound the way they do.” There were intentionally very seldom overdubs, edits or anything we couldn’t replicate live. We all wanted a raw representation of what we actually sound like; there’s no processing on the vocals. If you listen closely, you can hear each breath that Foxie takes. We would record all day, then crash out on mattresses on the floor in the live room, then the next morning push the mattresses up against the walls and get back into it. This is Rock-n-Roll.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a labor of love. You actually performed at The Whisky back in November to celebrate the EP’s release. What was that experience like?
Ronnie Simmons – It was a great experience, to be singing and playing a song that was written on the side of a bed with an acoustic guitar in Sydney, Australia, on a stage in Hollywood that has been graced by Rock royalty from Alice Cooper, The Doors, Mötley Crüe and KISS, is indescribable. To launch a record that was produced by Mark Opitz who produced our heroes like AC/DC, Angel City and Rose Tattoo in such an iconic venue really shows the power of Rock-n-Roll, following in your dreams and believing in yourself. I get goosebumps thinking about it.
Cryptic Rock – What is better than living out your dreams! Speaking of performing, can we expect The Hots to tour North America more in 2019?
Ronnie Simmons – Due to the positive response we received to the EP from U.S. and Canadian radio, we definitely want to get out and tour North America. It was added to rotation on over 90 stations including charting at #1 at WNJR in Pennsylvania, so we definitely want to get out and perform for the rest of the USA. In the immediate future we are working on finishing music videos for the other songs on the EP, and recently in L.A. we supported Walter Lure from Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers with Mick Rossi from Slaughter and the Dogs performing L.A.M.F.
Cryptic Rock – Alright, so we should look out for some tour dates in the future. Last question. On Cryptic Rock, we also cover movies, particularly Horror and Sci-Fi. If you are a fan of these genres, what are some of your favorites ?
Ronnie Simmons – I love Sci-Fi and was obsessed with it growing up. From the greats, like the original Star Wars trilogy and the original Planet Of The Apes series, to classics like Logan’s Run (1976) or ’80s obscurities like The Last Starfighter (1984). I love the escapism and the ability they have to suspend the viewer’s disbelief and transport them to another world, whilst often making a comment or observation about current society. Back to the Future (1985) actually inspired me to pick up and play guitar in the first place. That scene with Marty McFly playing “Johnny Be Goode” changed me!