Starting over, beginning anew, casting off the old… it’s a process easier said than done. Omaha, Nebraska natives The Hottman Sisters are determined to move forward creatively, letting the past fall back into the rear view. Comprised of actual sisters Jessica (guitar) and Heather (synths), along with drummer Ed Getzlaff, the indie rock trio reaches for a bigger sound on its latest (and aptly named) EP, Louder, and manages to reinvent themselves in the process.
Louder is a splash of cold water to the face, made for those twenty minute walks from the train to work, those fast steps that help ground you for the day ahead. “Fire,” the first single from the release, is an anthem hell bent on refocusing energy. “The fire / Like a roaring sound / Consuming / What used to hold me down” – these are the kind of lyrics we could see Tessa Thompson rocking out to in Westworld. It begs you to rewire your brain, setting your sights on who you are, not who you’ve been.
We sat down with the band and talked church, adding in a new band member, and how they captured that ’80s synth magic. Listen to Louder in its entirety below:
AF: Tell us about Omaha, Nebraska. What’s the music scene like over there?
Jessica: Omaha is a great place to start as a musician. It’s a forgiving music scene, so we have all been able to hone our craft here. As we have grown, we definitely are traveling out of Omaha a lot more. The scene here is very much singer-songwriter, and our music definitely falls more into indie rock/pop.
AF: Jess and Heather, you both started singing in church. Do you ever use church music as a kind of touchstone in terms of style, melody, etc?
Jess + Heather: We did grow up singing in church and a lot of the music was very much gospel/Christian Contemporary ’90s style tunes or classic hymns. These styles were definitely inspirations for our sound. We are not really pulling style from modern church music. Church was a great place for learning our craft and playing music with others, but not necessarily for deriving our style.
AF: How did you get pulled into the band, Ed?
Ed: I was teaching music lessons here in Omaha at a nonprofit and Jessica was working in the marketing department for the same nonprofit. We barely knew each other at the time but she heard me drumming in one of the studios and she loved what she heard. At the time, The Hottman Sisters were looking for a new drummer that could go on tour with them. She messaged me on Facebook asking if I could tour the next month with them and I said yes. I had about two practices with the band before the tour and we hit the road. The rest is history.
AF: Has the dynamic felt different adding a drummer into the mix? The added impact on stage must be exciting.
JH: We did have a drummer before Ed joined the project, but Ed’s specific drumming style is truly the perfect fit for the group. He serves the music well and is always conscious of playing what needs to be played vs. making everything a drum solo. This was very noticeable for us right away and we love that about Ed. The energy between the three of us on stage is almost indescribable. I feel that we all listen well to each other when we are playing, and it helps create music that feels very coherent and together.
AF: “Fire” is a catchy song with an important message on leaving the past behind. Can you tell us about the writing process for this song? What was the catalyst?
JH: The catalyst was that I had parts of myself that I wanted to change and I wrote this when I was in the midst of that change. I wanted to become a different version of myself, but even more than that, to become a version of myself that has always been there – to become the person I feel that I am called to be, the true me. This song was written about being able to let go of my old self to make room for a new self – a metamorphosis. Honestly, I wrote this song in under an hour, because it almost felt like it had been brewing in my subconscious for a long time. I typically write on a synth or keyboard (even though I play guitar in the band) and when I got to the synth, it just sort of all came out at once. I remember even tearing up writing this song because it was almost as if I was declaring a new identity as I was writing it.
AF: I hear some ’80s synth vibes on “Katz.” It reminds me a bit of St. Lucia. Where did you draw inspiration from sound-wise on the new EP?
JH: I love that you can hear the ’80s vibe in the music. As the songwriter for this project I definitely like mixing an upbeat feel with something haunting and nostalgic. Lots of music from the ’80s has this great mix of pop sounds and dark, mysterious lonesome sounds. I think that’s where the ’80s feel comes from.
EG: I also think it comes from all of our different preferences and backgrounds melding together. We knew we wanted to go for something bigger and “louder” with this new EP.
AF: How does the writing process work within the band? Do you normally start with instrumentation or do the lyrics form the basis of a song?
JH: I usually start by creating the bass line of a song. I then think about the different instrument melodies and how they will interact. This is the puzzle of a song for me and I love it. Once all of the melodies have been layered and make sense together, I will think about the vocal melody and how to make it stand out from all of the other parts of the song. Then finally, I will write lyrics to the song. The lyrics are usually the fastest part of the writing process for me. The next step is to bring the song to the band and put The Hottman Sisters touch on it. Each person brings their own flair and that creates the finished product.
AF: What can a fan expect from a Hottman Sisters live show?
The Band: Fans of The Hottman Sisters can expect a theatrical experience in a lot of ways. We definitely incorporate many layers of sound into our live shows. We do lots of harmonizing and each live show is crafted to flow from one song to the next. We are equally as particular with our songs as our transitions between songs. Like I mentioned earlier, we like to mix upbeat pop sounds with a dark, haunting, nostalgic feel. The audience will hear this in the music and will see this in the visual/performance aspect of the show. We are very intentional in curating a live show that brings the audience through lots of different emotions.
The Hottman Sisters’ new EP Louder is due out Sept 28th. Want to see them live? Their national tour kicks off TOMORROW in their hometown of Omaha, NE. See tour dates below!