Reading Octavia Butler’s Parable Series and Berserk manga near-simultaneously left Ted Davis in a fairly dark place. In the beauty and bleakness of both stories, Davis one part of the San Francisco alt-rock trio Hot Flash Heat Wave, found the narrative for “Bay Boys,” off the band’s upcoming album Sportswear (Park The Van), out March 11.
The underlying message of “Bay Boys”: even your dream can’t promise you happiness.
“The story ties into my own experience as a part of a band on the road, but it’s also not a completely personal analogy,” Davis tells American Songwriter. “To me, it is also a tale of someone who isn’t listening to his emotions, instead choosing to run away into this lifestyle that isn’t serving him.”
Davis adds, “The only thing that can really do that is listening to your inner voice. But it’s also sort of this triumphant yet tragic anthem for his crew’s romanticized life on the road and his refusal to change.”
Using the biker gang allegory “Bay Boys,” Davis sings through the precarious and dreamier state with Wind me up watch me go into the night time / Gas me up like a shot hitting the mainline / Searching for something like pacification / Roaming on the streets with no destination… Feel what you feel / Addicted to a story / That you know isn’t real / A switchblade allegory.
“The voice in the pre-chorus is like his conscience telling him he’s unfulfilled, but he’s idealized this life on the road and just keeps on running away,” says Davis from the opening line, Eat me alive / So sick of sedentary life / It’s time to stir up the pot / Meet me out in the parking lot.
For Davis, the surrounding Bay area is as much an inspiration for “Bay Boys” as it is for all of Hot Flash Heat Wave’s music. The Bay scene allowed the band to experiment and explore their sound since forming in 2010.
“The experiences and community that you find in city life and the spirit of adventure has been a huge part of my inspiration to write songs,” shares Davis. “I definitely tapped into that youthful feeling of exploration and excitement for the verses of this song [‘Bay Boys’], wandering the city streets at night with friends and chasing thrills. In addition to having its own fictional narrative this song is a sort of anthem for those years we spent together as 20-somethings in San Francisco.”
Evolving their sound since the more guitar-heavy, punk musings of their 2015 debut, Neopolitan, this iteration of Hot Flash Heat Wave is more refined, pulling more alternative sound patterns from the ’80s.“Bay Boys” is one snapshot, a collage of their imaginations, and all the strange sights dancing around their heads, and plastered into the 11 tracks of Sportswear.
“As a band, we have always intentionally allowed ourselves the freedom to follow our inspirations and make the kind of music that feels the most exciting to us with each project,” says Davis. “This release is a blend of many current interests, drawing guitar sounds from the ’80s, attitude and hyper-individualism from late ’90s club culture and anime, and an overarching dystopian retro-futurism that has seeped in from the chaos of the world.”
Photo: Courtesy of Park The Van