The Hot Soles

A band whose music feels like divebombing into a swimming pool full of cadillacs – Hot Soles’ Edsel splash recalls a host of Rock n Roll high water marks. But the duo’s exclusive session for Exposed revealed some surprising depths…

Two minute calls to arms like ‘Runaway’ seem to almost punch through the chilly January night into next summer as the pair record their tracks live under the wing of Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studios. The classic influences are there in singer and guitarist Kieran’s Little Richard yelps, while drummer Richie’s backbeats have the kind of crisp Earl Palmer snaps and kicks that chase the 50’s into a twenty first century alley. Let’s get to the tunes…

Ask about influences and they pick moments rather than bands – like Taj Mahal on The Rolling Stones’ Rock n Roll Circus and Buddy Guy covering Money on Festival Express. The drums spill and the edges are rough on these live takes but like Hot Soles’ Rotherham banter there’s an exactness and a craft behind the loose limbs – the cited Chuckle Brothers influence isn’t far wide of the mark in this sense – and the band’s insight into multitracking, frying pan guitars and ambient music highlights their focus. The likes of Eddie Cochran and Kieran’s beloved Stevie Wonder were as fascinated by innovation and technology as Richards D. James or H. Kirk, and we found ourselves holding our breath as we discussed their explorations.

So. Favourite Duos.

Kieran: Batman and Robin!

Richie: Am I allowed to say it? Barry and Paul Chuckle Brother. Gotta stay true to Rotherham! I know it’s obvious but credit where it’s due… Is this off the record or on record? Definitely not gonna be used? Only reason we’re not a three piece is we couldn’t find a bass player…

K: We didn’t really know anyone and we liked it as we were.

Well you’re established now. It’d be like going back to savoury to bring in another person now wouldn’t it?

R: Thing is, when you’re a duo, first thing people are gonna say is ‘Oh they either sound like Black Keys or White Stripes…’ But I do love Jack White as a guitarist. Have you seen the film ‘It Might Get Loud’? At the start of the film he starts making a guitar out of a plank of wood and a piece of string based on the frying pan – the original electric guitar from back in 1931.
In the same vein, I saw an interview with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach – they got together literally cos they couldn’t get on with anybody else and they didn’t want anyone else. And that’s what me and Richard ended up doing. We don’t wanna sound like anybody else. But we do respect what they’re doing.

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It’s an unfair question from myself really. No-one goes. “Oh you’re in a four piece. Who are your favourite four pieces’ do they? What are your favourite non-lyric-based noises, yelps etc from Hot Soles?

R: Kieran’s got one that he unleashes where he goes ‘HhuHHH!’. Actually, that weren’t good enough. Shall I try again? He goes ‘HhuHHHH!’

Second one was better. The powergrab made a difference there didn’t it?

K: I make a lot of noises. There’s ooOOh!’ and sometimes I go ‘HhuHHH!’ To be honest a lot of the time when I’m doing them, I don’t even know I’m doing them. They’re like little flairs at the end of melodies. We’re right into Queen of course – for a vocalist and a showman and a musician you can’t beat Freddie. There’s a real marmite thing with Queen, people either love ‘em or hate ‘em – cos they are quite cheesy but I grew up on them so I can see the cheese, but I can’t feel it, if you know what I mean?

It’s a bit like a photograph of cheese?

Yeah, and for me Freddie Mercury is one of the best vocalists of all time. I try to be as original as possible. But influences seep through. Inspiration works on a subconscious level. When you’re writing a song you’re doing something that’s been done time and time again, but still something new comes through. That’s the great thing about music. It’s an infinite language and it can be told in so many ways. (Kieran takes breath) I feel so good for that!

So what’s on the Hot Soles phones? What have you been listening to recently?

R: On here [holds up mobile] is the Hot Soles back catalogue of room recordings. I use it for voice memos too…

Are these sketches of songs and ideas?

R: Aye, I just go straight for the beat.

K: Aye, it’s always good to look back on stuff like that. Sometimes I record samples just getting on the tram on a busy day. One I got was a football match so it was absolutely rammed! You had the transition from being stood on platform when you could hear the tram coming down the street then me going on the tram and loads of people talking. It sounded like one of those tapes you hear in the language lab at school. I love ambient recordings.

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I think people would be quite surprised to hear Hot Soles say that.

K: End of the day, they’re part of life. Do you do playlists on yer phone? This is my SOYO playlist from when I do the DJ’ing…

Do you do playlists for different situations then, rather than types of music? Like ‘Walking to Work’, ‘Crying’…

K: Not so much. (*Reads from phone*) So we kick off with Rick James’ ‘Superfreak’, ‘Cissy Strut’ by The Meters, ‘Jayou’ by Jurassic 5, ‘Pressure Drop’ by Toots & The Maytals, Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ – this one blows my mind. I’ve always liked Stevie Wonder. But you know how some songs you just don’t notice ‘til one day you go ‘Why haven’t I realised that is such a great song?’ I just done that with this. You know the song, you’ve heard it a million times, but you fall in love with it. How many harpsichord parts are there on Superstition?

One. No, zero! Is it a trick question?

K: There’s about six, seven or eight tracks with just harpsichord parts. I’m the kind of person who can listen to a song on repeat for hours.

How long have we been recording this interview by the way [Checks time]?

K: Let’s cap it at two hours. No need to be ridiculous…

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