Hot Rod Circuit
By Kim Filipek

Hot Rod Circuit is currently on tour opening for the Get Up Kids and Superchunk. I recently had the opportunity to catch them live in concert and interview drummer Mike Poorman.

Hot Rod Circuit is:
Andy Jackson: lead vocals, guitar
Casey Prestwood: guitar
Mike Poorman: drums
Jay Russel: bass, vocals

E.C.: What artists do you think inspire Hot Rod Circuit the most?

Mike: Hot Rod Circuit: I would say old indie rock bands like Archers of Love, Superchunk, and this old indie rock band that never really hit called Fudge, from Virginia…We all listen to a lot of different stuff, a lot of classic rock, a lot of country, a lot of our friends’ bands, but I’d say that those 3 or 4 are the main influences.

E.C.: When it comes to songwriting, is it more of a group effort o r is it an individual or two-person job?

Mike: It depends. We all write our own parts…Andy pretty much for this last record wrote all the basic songs and we all wrote our own parts and I helped arrange stuff mostly, since I’m just the drummer I can’t really write music that much. We all have our own little job to do, but for the majority, like the core of the song, Andy wrote most of it for this record. In the past it was Andy and Casey mostly and Jay wrote some parts too.

E.C.: Vagrant bands like Dashboard Confessional, the Get Up Kids, and Saves the Day are typically labeled as “emo”. How do you think this affects Hot Rod Circuit’s reputation and what people expect to hear from you?

Mike: I don’t think it really affects anything persay. I mean, there are so many bands that are labeled “emo” these days that it’s such a broad generalization. I know that we fall under that category in most people’s eyes, but we’re just a simple rock band and most of those other bands are. I don’t think it affects us one way or another. Ya know, when new music comes around people need an easy term to use to label it…And I would hope that people don’t really expect anything [from us], that they just come and listen with an open mind if they haven’t seen us before, and I think the people that are fans of our band know what to expect from us…or at least I hope they know what to expect from us anyway. It seems like the more and more kids that are coming to shows that have never seen us before have been pretty open minded, which is good.

E.C.: What do you think about your labelmates (such as Saves the Day and Dashboard Confessional) making their way to the mainstream?

Mike: I think it’s great, more power to them. I mean, like Chris [Carrabba, of Dashboard Confessional] is a very driven individual and knows what he wants to accomplish and I applaud that. And Saves the Day, they’re laid-back guys who have been doing this for so long and finally somehow or another just struck a chord with a bunch of people and I think that’s great. All those bands are our friends and they deserve to do well because they worked hard for where they are and they work hard for what they do.

E.C.: Is MTV something you think HRC may want? What are your goals as a band?

Mike: It’s funny, we actually really don’t have any goals as a band anymore ‘cause in the last year we pretty mcuh accomplished all the goals that we’ve ever set out for ourselves like going to Europe, touring on a bus, putting out a record that actually sold so many copies… So pretty much everything from here on out is pretty much lie a bonus for us. Like if we get bigger, cool. I mean if we were really in this to make money we would have quit a long time ago because we’re not making that much money and we’re not like a hugely popular band, but we have our fan base and kids that always come to see us and we appreciate that. If we can keep doing it at this level we’d still be happy. I mean if it got bigger we wouldn’t freak out and break up or anything, I’m sure we’d welcome that too because we wanna play music to as many people as we can. Whatever happens happens. If we make it there someday, cool, but in my mind we’ve already made it somewhere.

E.C.: What do you think is your strongest or your favorite track on the latest CD?

Mike: That’s a tough question… Actually, not to sound egotistical, but this new record is the first record that I’ve ever played on that I’m 100% happy about so I couldn’t really tell you what my favorite song is just because I like ‘em all. They’re all really close to me in different ways, so it’s one of those kind of things. I don’t know, it’s tough…especially because we’re all our own worst critics and so it’s kind of hard for me to say “I like this particular one over any other one”. I mean, I like all our songs. If I didn’t like our songs I wouldn’t be playing them.

E.C.: Do you prefer recording over touring and why?

Mike: I don’t prefer one over the other, they’re both totally different things. I like to tour a lot because I get to see my friends all over the country and I get to tour with bands that are our friends and there’s no better way, I mean I don’t really have that many friends left at home because I’m out on tour all the time, so going out on tour is the time I get to hang out with my friends. And we get to see the country for free, we get paid basically to see the country and play music to people and it’s just unbelievable to me that we can make our way doing that. One advantage that the studio has is that your studio time eventually comes to an end and touring seems to last forever, and it’s really hard to be away from home as much as we are. We toured 8 months last year out of 12, and like 2 of us are married, Andy’s got 3 kids, I’m in a serious relationship as well and it just gets harder and harder every day to be away from home and not around your family and the people that you love. But the studio also has its advantages, like it’s good ‘cause you can sit there and all your creative output goes into being in the studio. Like with this time I feel that we really had time to make the record that we wanted to make, and if you have the time and you have the energy and the willpower you can try different things and basically perfect your craft to a certain extent. So I guess there’s good points to both.

E.C.: Do you write while you’re on the road or do you write more when you’re in the studio?

Mike: We write while we’re on the road, like Andy will come up with some stuff with some acoustic guitars and I’ll play some stuff and sometimes we’ll jam on stuff during sound check and things like that. Most of the time we just write when we’re at home, like when we can all get together and sit around and write. Like we wrote this past record in about 4 months and then went out and toured with Reggie and the Full Effect for 2 weeks and played all the songs before we went to the studio and tried them out on people and also tried them out so we could see what needed rearranging. We even wrote some of the record in the studio; it happens in different places, I guess it depends on everyone’s mood and inspiration. We already have about 6 songs written for the next record, not put together fully but the basics for 6 songs.

E.C.: When are you planning on recording that?

Mike: We won’t record probably till the late winter or early spring of this next year 2003 ‘cause we’ll be scheduled to turn in a record by June I think of next year. So I guess the new record’ll probably be out in the fall of next year or something like that.

Click here to visit the official Hot Rod Circuit website