With their TAG/Atlantic album finished in November and set for release June 20, Dead Hot Workshop drummer Curtis Grippe says it’s time to get the show on the road.
“1001,” the Tempe, Ariz.-based alternative group’s big-label debut, is named after the address of the now-defunct nightclub where the quartet cut its teeth six years ago. The Sun Club, Grippe said recently, was home to Dead Hot Workshop and such local counterparts as the Gin Blossoms, Meat Puppets and Soul Mission.
“I used to manage the place,” Grippe said. “I built the stage. We all played there a hundred times. Every band that we’ve seen and that has ever influenced us, we saw them there. It was a great landmark for us. Unfortunately, it was torn down, and believe me, it hurt.”
Undaunted, Dead Hot Workshop has risen to new heights, thanks largely to the buzz over its 1994 EP “River Otis” and their independently issued “White House” album. With it came a reputation as a solid live band and paying their dues, playing anywhere and everywhere they could.
“We’ve been together six years, performing together three or four times a week,” Grippe said. “It’s all hard work. For me, the personal satisfaction is that the songs are sounding more like they sound live than ever before.”
Grippe said he and his bandmates – singer-songwriter Brent Babb, guitarist Steve Larson and bassist Brian Griffith – have varied musical tastes, from the ’70s metal of Black Sabbath and Kiss to country music. But it’s too hard to put a label on their sound.
“We see it as it used to be, what it is now and which way it’s going, and you really can’t tie them all together in one phrase,” Grippe said. “I’d have to say it reminds me most of some of the ’70s hard rock bands that never really made it big, you know, like the James Gang.”
Listeners may rightfully compare Dead Hot Workshop to Buffalo Tom. That’s fine with Grippe.
“We’ve heard that one a lot, and we would probably make that correlation ourselves,” he said. “We’ve played with them a couple of times, and I really like them a lot. We both play pop songs. There may be a little cleverness with the groove, but they’re basically pop songs.”