Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess’ latest single showcases new five-piece lineup

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Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess. Photo by Hannah Reed Photography

Imagine being cooped up in a small vehicle with four other people for up to 24 hours at a time. It’s uncomfortable, especially if you’re in a vehicle that’s also packed full of guitars, keyboards, drums, and various musical accessories.

That’s what Greenville’s Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess band did last year, taking on a 10-date tour up and down the East Coast in true DIY fashion. It’s bound to cause some frayed nerves, and things came to a head in Baltimore when singer-guitarist Amelia Taylor Hall and bassist Wayne Swayze found themselves trekking around town on foot looking for a bathroom.

Swayze was complaining about blisters on his feet, and Hall could take no more. She turned to him and angrily snapped, “I’m buying you a new pair of shoes!”

Which, in retrospect, actually isn’t that bad.

“Having someone yell at me that they were going to buy me new shoes actually made me feel pretty loved,” Swayze says.

It’s a sign of the respect and affection that the five musicians in Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess (Hall, Swayze, guitarist Daniel Neely, keyboard player Jake Xingu, and drummer Shelby Miller) have for one another that that was about as bad as it got on the road.

Musically, the band, which will play Friday at the Radio Room in Greenville with Stacked Like Pancakes, is in a great place, as well. It was a trio until 2017, playing a catchy blend of punk and indie-rock while Hall sang deceptively catchy songs about trying to find some light in a dark time, whether it was through love, music, friendship, or community. But after it expanded to a five-piece, adding Xingu and Neely, the band’s sound quickly shifted to something more accessible and universal. On its new single, “Hot Topic Friends,” the sound is anthemic, infectious, and more intricate than anything the band had attempted before. And the message, which centers on the line “Do you know that you are loved?” is still hopeful.

“I’d been wanting to make the sound bigger so that I could have more emphasis on dynamics,” Hall says. “With a three-piece, you have a lot of space to fill, and now with keys and guitar, you can more deliberately use that space. I’ll play a riff for Daniel and then he’ll take it and do more with it, and Jake has a really good ear, so the keys add texture when we go quieter. I can focus a lot more on riffs and melodies, and on delivery and performing, which is really cool.”

The “Hot Topic Friends” single is the first taste of the band’s new album, “Do You Know Who Your Friends Are,” which will be out late this year. After recording the basic tracks at downtown’s Sit-N-Spin Recording Studios with engineer John Martin behind the soundboard, Horrible Girl is working on finishing the songs themselves, with help from producer/engineer Mark Jones. That approach has allowed them the luxury of taking their time, something they didn’t have on their first EP, 2016’s “How to Date a Severed Head,” which was banged out in a few hours.

“When you have a time constraint, you can have a quality constraint,” Shelby Miller says. “The songs came out great, but when we listened to them back, there were things I would’ve changed. We get to take as much time as we want with this one, so it’s going to come out really well when it gets released.”


Stacked Like Pancakes, with Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess, Old Currents, and Bound Society
When: Friday, July 13, 8 p.m.
Where: Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway   
Tickets: $8
Info: 864-609-4441, http://www.radioroomgreenville.com/

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