Imagine playing onstage with some of the top artists in Island music such as Laga Savea, Kiwini, J Boog, and Fiji. If you’ve ever been to any of their shows in the past few years, then you’ve definitely heard of The Hot Rain Band. This talented group of Hawaii locals has been the official band for many artists, backing them up on tour across the world. The Hot Rain Band consists of Carl Noa on guitar and vocals, Crystal Nakamaejo on vocals and percussion, Jorell Nacapuy on keys and vocals, Chris Rod on keys and vocals, Blaine Mateo on bass, and Leslie Ludizao on drums. The WhatItDo caught up with the band and got the 411 on how they started, working with other musicians, and dropping their first album this past November.
TWID: So how did the band get its start?
Carl: The band started in about 2000 and it constantly changed and grew just through years of maturing. It first started off with me, Laga Savea, and two other friends. We were all from Nanakuli on the west side of Oahu [Hawaii]. When we first started, we pretty much mimicked what we heard on the radio. At the time, it was 3 Plus and, before that, it was Ka’au Krater Boys’ music. We grew up listening to that and, slowly but surely, we developed our own sound. In 2003, Laga left to perform in Japan, our keyboardist left, and we ended up getting Blaine to play bass at the time. And from Blaine, the rest of the musicians came one by one to join the band. Les [Ludizao] used to come and then Les ended up being the keyboardist and play drums. So the band started in 2000 and the band you hear right now has been together since 2004.
TWID: How did The Hot Rain Band get its name?
Carl: We had a pep rally/assembly that we were going to perform at in high school so we were trying to think of names for our group. We were coming up with Hawaiian names – I came up with ka’ua which is ‘rain’ and our ‘ukulele player, at the time, came up with ‘ahiwela which is ‘shooting star’ or ‘hot star.’ Then someone suggested ka’uawela or ‘hot rain.’ Laga suggested we just say it in English and we agreed. And that’s how we became The Hot Rain Band.
TWID: When and how did the band start playing with/for other music artists?
Carl: It started with Laga when he did his solo album. We were Laga’s backing band. From there, we started working with J Boog. We were the first band that he ever worked with. So it was J Boog, Laga Savea, and Kiwini Vaitai came after. Aside from that, two of our members [Leslie and Blaine] were a part of the artist Oshen’s band. We were just so eager to play and to learn and grow. Music is everything to us. We just wanted to keep learning and growing in music. From that, we worked with Don Carlos and Tanya Stephens.
Chris: Because of J Boog, we started backing up Fiji.
Jorell: With those guys [Laga, Kiwini, Fiji, J Boog], we’re definitely a family. Everyone’s on the same vibe. There’s no bumping heads. And as big as Fiji is, he’s not arrogant. He treats us like his own family.
Blaine: If anything, Fiji keeps us on our toes the most. For example, we’ll be doing a show with a set list but he’ll throw in songs that we’ve never practiced.
Carl: Everyone else follows his or her set list. With Fiji, he follows the first three songs on the set list and then after that, it’s whatever he calls.
TWID: Your first album, Self Titled, was just released in November. How would you best describe the music on it?
Leslie: I think our music has life. It’s a bunch of pieces and stories that creates something that’s alive. And when you listen to it, you can hear everything from the flute to the winds. We wanted it to be like that. We wanted you to feel each instrument. That’s why we decided to go with live on everything. To me, when I hear our album, I hear life.
TWID: Who are some up-and-coming Island artists that we should be on the lookout for from Hawaii?
Chris: Definitely H-Trey [the band] and Mz. Royalty.
TWID: Any advice for those who want to be in the music business or a band?
Carl: Practice, be hungry, always inspire yourself, and never be a slave to your art.
Crystal: Also, persevere no matter what. We’ve been through a lot over the years but we kept with it. We kept pushing and never stopped trying.
Perseverance and determination is why The Hot Rain Band’s music is here and making such an impression on the Urban Island movement. It’s alive and vibrant. Their current single, “Cuz I’m” perfectly demonstrates the energy within this group from the live instruments such as the flute and the brass in the beginning of the song. Other hot tracks making moves on the music charts in Hawaii include “Heavyweight Love” and “We Dem People.” Cop their new album, “like” their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter ‘cause 2012 is gonna be a hot one for The Hot Rain Band!
-Article Written By: Pesi Kava
*Photos courtesy of The Hot Rain Band
*YouTube video courtesy of ForeverLovelyx3