Published Jan 01, 2006"We like taking risks," Chuck Ragan, gravel-throated co-vocalist for Florida-based gut-punk legends-in-the-making Hot Water Music, laughs. "You've got to take risks." The risk Ragan refers to is the decision to record their sixth full-length disc, the appropriately-titled Caution, with producer Brian McTernan. As Ragan recalls, working with the famed Boston-based hardcore knob-twiddler on their 2001 Epitaph debut A Flight and A Crash was very nearly, as the title of that record suggests, a disaster.
"The last experience was pretty horrible most of the time," Ragan admits during a crackling cell-phone call somewhere between their Gainesville base and Mexico. "It was a hard time. We had a lot of setbacks and we were far from prepared. I love (Flight...) the way it is and I love looking back on it to see what we've done, but we've been calling it a growing pains kind of record. We had to do that to do Caution.
"We weren't totally ready for [McTernan] and I don't think he was ready for us. We both pushed each other and stood our own ground so we would end up butting heads quite a bit, which was good and bad. There were a couple of times where everybody was on each other's nerves and kind of testy and I hear a lot of that in the record. Some of that's good and some of that isn't."
But never ones to back away from a challenge, and appreciating McTernan's skill as a producer, they decided to give the relationship another chance. McTernan flew to Florida where he holed up with the band to demo new material and complete the writing so by the time they were ready to set up in the studio, there was little left to do but capture the ensuing rock fury on tape.
"This time was incredible because we'd already worked out all the kinks," says Ragan. "We knew each other and knew the studio better and we were a lot more prepared. I think it really benefited the record. We were able to concentrate on our own parts and just focus rather than worry about arranging the songs or what didn't get finished so everything went along a lot smoother and a lot more fun."