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Hot Robots, which is preparing to release its new album, All Alone Together, this week, comprises members of a number of well-regarded Denver acts past and present, such as the Christines, the LaDonnas, the Inactivists and Local 33. You can hear the quintet's collective love of power pop and guitar-driven '80s new wave in its music. But instead of sounding like they're hopping on the same bandwagon that brought acts like the Sweet and Cheap Trick back into mass consciousness, Hot Robots' songs crackle with genuine passion and conviction. We sat down with the band at Jimmy Leo's house to discuss the personal roots of its music.
Westword: As people who have been involved in music for two decades or more, why did you want to do what is essentially a pop band?
Eric Lowe: I told a friend, "I think the last band I'm ever going to be in has to be a pop-rock band." It took Nick White of the Christines to convince me to come to Jimmy's house. I saw his collection of music and said, "Are you serious?"
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Jimmy Leo: After playing in bands of different styles and all that kind of stuff, I wanted to get back to what turned me on about music in the first place. I had a Dazed and Confused moment when I was a little kid, riding in the back of this '76 Malibu with my best friend's older brother and his friends, driving along listening to classic rock. Then the radio station said, "We're going to play a block of new-wave music." At the time, Cheap Trick, the Cars, Tom Petty, the Knack, Elvis Costello — all that stuff — was considered to be related.
These guys were like, "Oh, my God, this sucks." I felt alive, and I felt like that was first time I'd listened to something that had really kind of turned me on. I'd listened to music before, but that's what really turned the light on for me and turned me into a music geek, and I started collecting records
EL: That's the thing — '80s music was different then. I like classic rock, but the '80s, for me, was Plimsouls, Psychedelic Furs, the Church, early R.E.M. They were on the edge, playing something different that was catchy.
JL: I've been in different kinds of bands, but all celebrating the beginning of rock and roll and trying to imagine what it would be like to start from the beginning. But when it came down to trying to do the last band I ever wanted to play in, it was like paying respect to my youth — not trying to be a cover band, but a band that has all these influences. We're playing the kind of music we want to hear. The only way to play music with any authenticity is to play the music that you believe in.