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January 12, 2011

At 19 years old, not many college students have a grip on life like the members Hotfox.

“Everything’s relative. Everything we write about now, and base our music around, is just the sum of our life experiences,” vocalist and guitarist Oliver Hopkins contemplates and after years together, Hotfox has a good amount of those to choose from.

In the past three years, Hotfox has recorded two albums, won Fender’s 2010 National Record Store Day Battle of the Bands, toured around Indianapolis, and still maintained sanity at the end of their first semester as IU college freshmen.

Hotfox is an experimental, indie-rock band hailing from Indianapolis. The band is comprised of Marcus Tedesco (bass), Duncan Kissinger (guitar), Oliver Hopkins (vocals, guitar) and Michael Preuschl (drums). The evolution of Hotfox can be traced back to 2005 when Kissinger and Hopkins began jamming together in 8th grade. Their first band, Main Event, played gigs at coffeehouses around Indianapolis. Opting for a new name in 2007 led to the creation of Sanuk. In the Sanuk era, the guys released Honey I Have News. However in 2009, with the addition of new drummer Preuschl, came the name that stuck: Hotfox.

Hotfox’s most recent album, You, Me & the Monster  offers music ranging from eclectic mixtures of ambient new waves rock (“Tombstone Teeth”) to slower, nostalgic acoustic folk (“Esplanade”). Hotfox’s diversity can be attributed to their musical influences like The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco, Pavement and Brand New. The band is very proud of the more mature and structured sound they created in Monster.

“We got louder, more confident and our influences grew a lot,” Kissinger explains.

The confidence Hotfox exudes not only sheds light on their progression as artists, it also allows them to test different guitar sounds like the track “5th and Mad.” Kissinger explains that their methods of recording have also changed with experience.

“The process for Honey I Have News was more drawn out. We went in to the studio for two songs at a time for a period of months. For You, Me and The Monster, we went in all at once for initial recording in June 2010 and worked on the album, on and off, until August 2010. We finished it all the weekend before we came to IU.”

That’s quite a load to carry, especially with college on the very distant horizon.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m less busy up at school,” Tedesco explains, leading Kissinger to quip, “You’re in the music school, everything’s easy!”

After the laughter dies down, Kissinger proceeds to explain, “Everything has changed a lot. For example, all of our things are in Indianapolis with our parents so it can be difficult to fully practice.”

“Oh, don’t talk about parents. That’s so uncool,” Hopkins interrupts jokingly, shaking his head. “We don’t have parents.”

The sarcasm doesn’t stop there. “In five years, I’ll be 24 and most likely at gas stations buying liquor for high school students,” Preuschl states, straight-faced. Laughter erupts along with numerous different sarcastic, hypothetical predictions of the band’s future.

There can be no doubt that these guys are more than just band mates, they are best friends. They easily exchange sarcastic remarks, call one another out for ridiculous statements yet still finish each other’s sentences without a second’s hesitation. Inhabiting the southwest neighborhood of Reed, the band spends most of their time jamming in open basement space and frequenting shows around Bloomington. However, making music is their number one priority. In the midst of the jokes, majority ruled that playing music they love will be their final destination.

“But for real,” Hopkins leans forward in his seat, “In five years we’ll be out of college and hopefully traveling, playing our music and just seeing stuff.”

 “Making money would be nice, but we don’t need it,” Preuschl adds, “It would be nice to say this was our job. That we could say we actually do what we love. I feel like a lot of people hate their jobs, and we wouldn’t.”

At the mention of money, a light bulb flicks on over Hopkins’ head. “We are starting to think of the merch situation though. We have stickers now!” He exclaims and begins digging through his desk to find an example.

The band’s dedicated manager and long-time friend, Chris Kauffman, has a similar but more realistic view of the band’s future. He explains, “In 5 years, I see Hotfox signed with a prominent record label, an extremely sturdy national fan base, and a national touring presence as well.” He continues, “They certainly put in the musical footwork that merits such successes.”

On the agenda for the next month, Hotfox has shows lined up on college campuses that include Miami of Ohio and Ball State University. They also have plans to expand their presence into nearby cities including Chicago, Cincinnati and Nashville by the end of the year.

“I’m just curious about what type of music we’d make with new scenery,” Hopkins looks around the room at his friends. “Like if we got up and left and settled somewhere else. I mean, like I said, everything’s relative and the sum of our life experiences so far. So how would it be if we were somewhere new and different? That’s what I’m excited to find out.”

-Anna Hershberger

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