Hot Little Rocket
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Hot Little Rocket

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Chart Magazine (Artist Feature)"

There have been whispers creeping out of Calgary for the past few years that there's a band within its city limits that has been slowly getting too good to remain Calgary's little secret for much longer. Now the rest of the country is hearing just how true those whispers are.

Hot Little Rocket are fast seeing their reputation for being a tour de force rock n' roll act spread coast to coast. Andrew Wedderburn (vocals/guitar), Aaron Smelski (guitar), Mark MacArthur (bass) and Joel Nye (drums) decided earlier this year that it was time to pull out the big guns. The result is their second full-length "Our Work And Why We Do It", an album that sees the band (along with a little help of some friends, including Calgary ex-pat Aaron Booth) finally capture the live sound that they have staked their name on.

Taking influences from a wide variety of classic resources - from The Stones to Wire to showgazer Brit-pop and beyond - the band are hardly backward looking, instead they charge forward. From the rambunctious, hand-clap punctuated "Short Work" to the throbbing bass line of "Johnny Come Lately", HLR stand shoulder to shoulder with both the current 80's revival and its artier, less traditional-bound cousins. With the album beginning to hit the radar on campus stations across the country, soon Wedderburn's destinctive vocals will scream out of a radio near you. - Derek McEwan

"Calgary Sun (Artist Feature)"


Ten minutes into the interview, when he's relaxed and enjoying his beverage, seems to the perfect time to blindside Aaron Smelski, guitarist for Hot Little Rocket.

Does he have any clue what the hell his band's songs are about?

"No," Smelski laughs to the query regarding frontman Andrew Wedderburn's lyrics.  "But I love them..."

"I hate obvious lyrics, I hate when somebody dies or somebody breaks up and you can follow the story - I just lose interest because you don't have to put any effort in.  With Andrew's lyrics you actually have to work at it."

Wedderburn's lyrics, a big part of the charm of Hot Little Rocket's third and latest release 'Our Work And Why We Do It', are like indie rock Tourette's - smart, catchy, seeming non sequiturs yelped out like someone weaned solely on the songs of Sonic Youth and Pavement.

(Ex.: "It's a long way down when your lead foot's lead and sprained/All my pockets full of rocks just keep me vain/Please don't make me sleep in the bed I made.")

Whatever they mean, they fit perfectly with the band's chunky, melodically charged brand of rock, which has made them one of city's best and a leader of the local scene.

In fact, along with a number of other veteran acts such as Mico, The Summerlad, amd The Dudes, Hot Little Rocket - which is rounded out by Joel Nye and Mark MacArthur - represent a welcome and exciting move towards the stabilization of the Calgary indie rock scene.

"It seemed to be really slumped about five years ago when there didn't seem to be much of anything," Smelski agrees.

"A lot of people either left town or weren't into live music very much.

"Now it seems to have really come back.  And people are being consistent as well, putting out more than just one album..."

"Calgary has always been a comfortable place, which is good and bad.  On the good side, there's a lot of creativity, but I don't think people make that effort to push out.  But now there's some good dedicated people in town, some really strong talent that's making the effort.

In the New Year, Hot Little Rocket are planning on making that effort by making a push down South and a more concerted attack on the rest of Canada, where they've already built a much-deserved buzz.

For now though, Calgary music fans can enjoy Hot Little Rocket's work without worrying about why they do it - or what it means, for that matter - when they play tonight at The Ship & Anchor Pub. - Mike Bell

"Live Reviews Collection"

- A band that must be seen live to be understood, this record [Danish Documentary] captures much of the energy, discordance, and emotion that has made them crowd favourites. – Calgary Straight

- More importantly, though, they have bridged the gap between the club circuit and the all-ages scene. Their dedicated legion of fans has seen enough shows to know all the lyrics and to fill a room, whether the venue has a liquor license or not. – FFWD Magazine

- There’s good reason for Hot Little Rocket’s name to be sticking in peoples head’s in Central Canada. Their last appearance in Toronto was during Canadian Music Week this past summer and the band was given the daunting task of following up Toronto Favourites Moneen. HLR managed to keep the crowd on their feet, eye fixed firmly on the stage – an impressive feat given the fickle audiences that attend these largely industry-oriented events. –

- Hot Little Rocket’s Calgary tour hits the University district when they take the big stage, opening for Modest Mouse (September 10, MacEwan Hall), who make their speedy return to Calgary. More than a few fans are hoping the short time between the Mouse’s last show here and this one means the band is intent on making up for what many thought was a lackluster show. Rest assured, if they don’t come with all barrels blazing, Hot Little Rocket’s set (well honed by the time this show arrives) is likely to blow them off the stage. –

- These live shows are an all-out exercise in kinetics and accident prevention. Guitarist Aaron Smelski stomps pedals and flails his pick hand with erratic spasms while Wedderburn swaggers around the stage clutching the mic with unprecedented confidence. When his focus shifts to strangling his guitar, he’s lucky if he’s not toppled by Macarthur, who spends the bulk of the show offering low-end rumble while launched in the air. – FFWD Magazine

- [Our Work And Why We Do It] an album that sees the band finally capture the live sound that they have staked their name on. – Chart Magazine

- If skeptics still have their doubts, seeing the group bash through their live set should alleviate them. – The Calgary Straight

- [...] live they command your attention with a sound that is at once familiar yet not quite anything I’ve heard before. The have the raw rock and roll energy of AC/DC combined with a somewhat new wave flavour seasoned with Alberta roots music. I love the razor sharp guitar sound. –

- Calgary’s Hot Little Rocket made an appearance at the invite-only MTV party at the Hard Rock Café before heading over to the Endearing showcase at The Rivoli. Apparently there were a lot of record exec types at the MTV shindig and word has it that some of them were very impressed with the Rocket’s set. – - Various


Hot Little Rocket first caught the attention of MTV back in 2001 when they were invited to help launch the channel in Canada at a party for the industry elite.  

The head of MTV Marketing and Communications had this to say...
"Hot Little Rocket is Calgary's hottest band and their unique and catchy sound is quickly becoming well known throughout the country.

It is for that reason that we invited them to play the MTV2 Showcase at the launch of MTV in Canada at this years Canadian Music Week.

MTV2 is known worldwide for breaking new artists and for setting the trends. We are confident that Hot Little Rocket's future success will reinforce this reputation."

Since then Hot Little Rocket's unique pop/punk sound has served as the soundtrack an international promotional campaign that airs on MTV in 13 countries around world, and is featured in the packaging of a new music video based program called Versus that airs nationally on MTV and its sister stations. - MTV

"Spill Magazine (CMW Feature)"

“People in Calgary really love rock ‘n’ roll,” Hot Little Rocket front man Andrew Wedderburn says with absolute conviction. “They love punk rock. They love garage rock. Calgary doesn’t get any credit, I don’t think. But, in my mind, that’s kind of helpful, because all these bands in Calgary have had all this time just to be rock bands. They can get good at being rock bands, without the kind of Queen Street/Exclaim! Magazine pressure that I think makes a lot of bands into something that they may not necessarily be – or be ready for,” he continues.

Calgary is the city that has produced Hot Little Rocket – a sparkling, explosive, energetic band that sounds just like their name suggests. “I think Calgary’s a fantastic place to be in a band, but it’s tough,” Wedderburn says. “You get really down on it because you can’t make a living as a musician in Calgary, but what are you gonna do? Move to Toronto like everybody else and probably not make a living at it there? No. Being in Calgary means you get to just be in a band, which is, at the end of the day, the best part of it.”

Comprised of Andrew Wedderburn (vocals and guitar), Aaron Smelski (guitar), Mark Macarthur (bass), and Joel Nye (drums), Hot Little Rocket has released a stirring second full-length album, Our Work and Why We Do It, as a follow-up to their debut full-length, 2001’s Danish Documentary. “I think that most people will tell you that their new album is better than their last one,” Wedderburn concedes, “and I think that (this album) is better than our last one.”

The new album was recorded in only 12 days, but the time that has passed since their last release has brought Hot Little Rocket to a new point in their development. “This is gonna sound silly,” Wedderburn starts, “but now we don’t try to write songs that are kind of what Aaron likes and kind of what I like. Now we have figured out what Hot Little Rocket sounds like, and I’m all for it.”

And what exactly is that sound? Hot Little Rocket is definitely distinct, and that may be the reason they get such varying descriptions applied to the band. “You can say we’re an indie/guitar/post-punk/whatever-you-can-add-on band,” Wedderburn says. “I’d hate to ever be the kind of band that could just be summed up in a brief clip. Every time someone describes us differently, I’m always kind of relieved, because that means we’re staying ahead of it and doing something right. So, I just go for the general and say we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, because rock ‘n’ roll is a value and an ideal for me, even if it’s been done differently over the years.”

A big factor in the band’s allure is the brilliance of Wedderburn’s songwriting. He describes the process of writing Hot Little Rocket’s lyrics as “react(ing) to the music.” The songs play off situations and emotions rather than tell stories, which is a welcome break from the typical boy-meets-girl scenarios that fill other bands’ repertoires. When Wedderburn sings “Get some stilts, take some aspirin/Your legs fold up in thirds/Who wants stilts, well, who’s asking?/Your legs fall down like words,” overtop punchy guitars, you know Wedderburn’s brain is working well beyond some other songwriters’ capabilities.

Though the members of Hot Little Rocket are an incredible creative force, being in the indie scene as opposed to breaking into the mainstream isn’t a big deal to them. Wedderburn has a realistic view of the music industry, and he knows the chances of getting “spotted” can be small. “Every time we go away to one of those music conferences like CMW, NMW, the Halifax Pop Explosion…I always tell people I’m about to go away, and they’re always like ‘Oh, maybe you’ll get big,’ and I’m like ‘Nah, I have a better chance at winning the lottery.’” - Spill Magazine


Our Work And Why We Do It
Album Review

Ever since I've known Blair Purda of Endearing Records (who
released HLR's second album Danish Documentary), he has raved about this band. Blair loves hooks and melody, but he also likes it presented with rough edges, and that's what makes Our Work And Why We Do It tough to put down - it's not quite perfect, but I wouldn't change a thing. Like Winnipeg's Weakerthans, HLR has an old-school punk edge to their pop sounds; though they've matured, there's still enough piss and vinegar to go around - the key is balance. The lovely hooks are shrouded in abrasive rhythm guitar, and the superb musicianship is offset by Andrew Wedderburn's straining (never breaking) vocals. Our Work is punk rock for those of us who are still pissed off but responsible enough to go to work everyday without question, and want to sing along even though we can't sing. Definite driving tunage! - Stylus

"Exclaim (Aug. 2007)"

"“An epic energy ... denser guitars and epic walls of drums support Andrew Wedderburn’s vocals. From the infectious build of “Like Killers” to the clicking rhythm of “Sleep Today,” Hot Little Rocket have created an album worthy of its big name producer (Steve Albini).”

Since releasing their first album, Laika, in 2000, Calgary post-punk heroes Hot Little Rocket have opened for the likes of Modest Mouse and Eric’s Trip, while international endeavours gained them a two-week residency in Beijing, China, where they played at festivals, bars and even the Canadian Consulate. Adding to the legend, their latest full-length, How To Lose Everything, was recorded in Chicago with indie demigod Steve Albini. Albini’s production lends an epic energy to the songs, allowing for denser guitars and epic walls of drums to support Andrew Wedderburn’s vocals. From the infectious build of “Like Killers” to the clicking rhythm of “Sleep Today,” Hot Little Rocket have created an album worthy of its big name producer.
(Featured Album Review, online & print edition) - by Josiah Hughes

"FFWD Weekly (June 2007)"

“At the core of the album is near flawless songwriting ... unassumingly brilliant storytelling. With massive guitars, a jaw-dropping stereo spread and surprisingly effective dry vocal treatment, (How To Lose Everything) sounds fantastic. From the itchy beat and singalong of album opener "Like Killers," through the streamlined redux of crowd favourite "Let’s Play in Traffic" to the lighter-waving genius of album closer "It Gets Dark," How to Lose Everything is the sound of a great band graduating to the big leagues with finesse and commitment. And while Albini helped focus the band’s intentions in the studio, the recording just accentuates elements that have always been there. It doesn’t matter if it’s the paint-peeling intensity of "Trouble" or unrelenting pop hook of "Sleep Today," Hot Little Rocket will take listeners on a journey, if they are willing to keep up. In learning How to Lose Everything, they discovered something else about making music – you can’t be afraid to take chances.”
- FFWD Weekly (Artist Feature, excerpts, June 21/07 edition)
- by Jason Lewis

"Edmonton Journal (July 2007)"

"One of the most stalwart of Calgary's indie rock bands, Hot Little Rocket, endures the ages. It's a little-known fact that any Calgarian interested in local live music has seen HLR at least two and a half times. The foursome's blue-collar iconoclast Andrew Wedderburn wrote a novel between 2003's Our Work and How We Do It and this release. He's reined in the rough edges that marred HLR's 2001 debut. Perhaps the solitude has given him time to focus. Perhaps top-gun producer Steve Albini (the man responsible for Nirvana's In Utero and many, many other classic albums) wanted it sweet and to the point. Like Killers, the quickly moving opener, is an example of no-nonsense rock songwriting. Wedderburn's vowel-laden phrasing is still as idiosyncratic as ever. How to Lose Everything is worth picking up just to hear It Gets Dark, a slow-moving ode to being in a movie about a band. Sure, Hot Little Rocket has been around for a long time, but '90s throwback indie rock this isn't. 4 out of 5 stars."
- Tyler Morency (Edmonton Journal, Jul. 9/07 edtion) - Edmonton Journal

"Calgary Herald (July 2007)"

“Hot Little Rocket have mastered the perilous balance between spastic riffery and genuine intelligence, perfecting snarling pop-punk backed up with Dean's-list honours. How to Lose Everything exhibits a lyricist at the top of his powers, a band operating in perfect synchronicity on all levels.”
- Calgary Herald (Album Review & Track-By-Track analysis, July 27/07 edition) - Calgary Herald


Laika EP (2000)
Danish Documentary (2001)
Our Work and Why We Do It (2003)
Laika re-release (2004)
China EP (2005)
How to Lose Everything (2007)



HOT LITTLE ROCKET are one of the longest running and most beloved bands ever to emerge from the Western Canadian rock and roll scene. For almost ten years, their unforgettable songs and jarring live performances have stuck in the ears and hearts of indie rockers all across the country. In February 2006, Hot Little Rocket spent a week in Chicago with legendary recording engineer Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, Stooges) and came out of it with easily their strongest album to date, "HOW TO LOSE EVERYTHING", which will be released nationwide on June 26th, 2007.

"It was just amazing to work with someone who really respects us," praises Aaron Smelski, guitarist. "He was really professional, but he’d let us do our own thing and would occasionally bring in his two cents on how to improve our sound.”

Hot Little Rocket - Smelski, Andrew Wedderburn (singer), Matt Swann (bass) and Joel Nye (drums) - have piled up road experience like some kind of loud, skinny hockey franchise. Touring back and forth across Canada more times than they can count, the Rocket’s have shared stages along the way with Modest Mouse, The Weakerthans, and The Constantines to name a few. They’d even packed themselves and their guitars across the Pacific Ocean for a two and a half week residency in Beijing, including playing to tens of thousands at the MIDI Music festival. Until someone claims otherwise, they're calling themselves the "first Canadian indie band to ever play China for two and a half weeks".

After the initial release of the "Laika" EP in 2000, their first album "Danish Documentary" (2001) reached #17 on the Earshot national charts. Their second album, "Our Work And Why We Do It" (2003) marked their first entry into Earshot's Top Ten and peaked nationally at #9.

“[Our latest] sounds the way we sound. Nothing was manipulated,” comments Wedderburn, who has been insistent on staying true to the classic rock combo instrumentation, despite many indie rock bands venturing out into new forms of instrumentation with string sections and synthesizers.

On "How To Lose Everything", that signature “Albini sound" finally captures the strength of Hot Little Rocket's gob-smacking and energetic live show like never before - leaving the listener with the overwhelming sensation that the band is about to tumble out of your speakers and continue to rock in your very own living room.

Hot Little Rocket's debut single “Like Killers" will hit radio alongside of the album street date, all in support of their first round of tour dates. They will continue to tour Canada throughout 2007, dates to be announced. "How to Lose Everything" will be available nationwide via Canadian independent label File Under: Music.

"Like Killers" video: