A.V. Club Milwaukee – Hot Coffin Feature

hot coffin

Hot Coffin gets loud on LAW

hot coffin

When guitarist Christian Hansen started to write songs following the breakup of his band Red Knife Lottery, he didn’t intend on being in another loud rock band. But as Hansen pieced together his new band, Hot Coffin, loud rock ’n’ roll felt more and more like a natural fit. “It’s funny comparing the demos with how the final recording turned out,” Hansen says. “The demos are definitely not as heavy. But with the four of us coming from playing louder rock music, it just kind of happened. And it felt good.”

Hansen initially decided to bring in longtime collaborator and fellow Red Knife Lottery alum Joe Kanack to play bass. He then sought out drummer Justin Krol, who played with the band through the recording of its debut album, LAW. When Krol left to play with Hugh Bob And The Hustle, Hansen contacted close friend Jon Kraft. Hansen knew Kraft well from Red Knife Lottery’s frequent gigs with hardcore band Since By Man.

For about five to six months, the band played without a singer. One day, Hansen decided to contact longtime friend and former roommate Sean Williamson. Like the others, Williamson had a history of playing in bands, lending his vocals to Farewell To Twilight (a band that Red Knife Lottery also toured with). “It’s great to have a good friendship and chemistry off the bat,” Hansen says. “All of us have a history with our old bands playing together and being buddies.”

The addition of Williamson brought a new dynamic to the songs. “If you take the vocals off the songs, I feel the songs have a different feel to them. It makes them go in a softer direction,” Hansen says. “It’s in [Williamson] to be so hype and have so much energy. He just can’t calm down. He brought the energy and I’m glad it ended up turning into a loud band.”

One of the LAW’s highlights is “Creeper,” which Hansen calls the “weird child of the album.” It features guest vocals from Ashley Chapman, and, like most of the songs, the band took its time to plan the song’s direction. “It has an eerie, cultish, chant-y feel,” Hansen says. “There’s a deep rhythm, and you flow with that, and all of a sudden it’s like—boom!—you go to this huge climax chorus, and then it gets put back down to a quiet and chilled dynamic.”

Thematically, many of the lyrics revolve around the album’s title. “The idea I get from Sean’s perspective is law, guidelines, and rules,” Hansen says. “With all of the songs, the lyrics deal with the stresses and personal conflicts in one’s life—from religion to relationships. It’s a very personal idea of life and questioning.”

Hot Coffin got its name from a random conversation Hansen had with producer (and member of The Paper Chase) John Congleton back when Hansen was in Red Knife Lottery. “Down the road, needing a name, I thought Hot Coffin would be cool as it has no meaning. If I saw ‘Hot Coffin,’ I would be ‘Okay, what’s going on?’”

After spending much of 2012 recording, mixing, and mastering its debut, Hot Coffin hopes 2013 is more active. “It took longer to get mixed and mastered than we wanted,” Hansen says. “If you noticed, we didn’t play much at all the past year. This is our year to push forward. It’s exciting finally having the first album out. It’s great to have people hear songs rather than hear about band.”

One of the band’s first opportunities is February 23, when it releases LAW at Cactus Club with Cut Teeth and The American Plains. The $10 cover includes a CD copy of the album. While Hot Coffin will take plenty of time to play these new songs, Hansen hopes the band can record more material in the near future. “We’re going to push ourselves even though we have the record coming out. Maybe a batch of six songs, and record an EP early next fall. We’re just going to keep writing songs.”