Comprised of husband and wife duo, The Hots features Foxie Kelly on lead vocals and guitarist, along with her husband, Ronnie Simmons, also on guitar. The Australian duo is definitely living up to their name, with releasing their self-titled debut EP with accompanying music video, last November. The music video was shot in their homeland of Australia, in Sydney, featuring American muscle cars, and was directed by MTV Classic Australia Producer/Director Vashti Rosenberg (Blink 182, Good Charlotte, and Nickelback).
The duo is no stranger to the pure aesthetic and sound of good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, as Ronnie has played with Aussie rockers Rose Tattoo and The Screaming Jets, including punk rock legend Richie Ramone (The Ramones), and Foxie has incredible vocals, exuding powerful choruses even among rock royalty. Both musicians have endorsements from Gibson Guitars and Marshall Amps, and Ronnie has toured the world with supporting stadium acts like Alice Cooper, Mötley Crüe, and Aerosmith, among others.
The leading lady, Foxie, is the granddaughter of the drummer for Irish Supreme Sounds Show Band in Wexford Ireland, and her cousin is acclaimed Irish rapper and MC, Rob Kelly. We chatted with Foxie and Ronnie about their guitars, their new EP, leading frontwomen, and a few of their musical favorites.
From listening to your debut EP, and reading about what all you two have accomplished, you have been really ingrained and rooted in the hard rock scene, and I love it! How did you get together, and how does the fluidity with your music background transcend into what you do now?
Foxie: I think I’ve been working really hard towards doing this for many years. I’ve been playing the guitar for about ten years now, and my dad was a drummer, so I was born into a really musical family and they always encouraged me. I played in band all throughout high school, all different genres, and Ronnie and I started working together about two years ago now?
Ronnie: Yeah about two years ago. I was a full-time session musician for the past ten years. I played guitar for Richie Ramone and members of Hollywood Vampires. And I met up with Foxie and our musical paths crossed.
Foxie: I was doing a lot of songwriting, and I always said, “he was the other guitarist I always needed.” Just that extra part that I was missing.
That’s awesome. I love it. Is that how you guys met, came together, and all that good stuff…
Ronnie and Foxie: We actually met many years ago back, in Sydney, where we’re from, on the rock scene, and life kinda took us in separate directions. I got hired to come tour out in the States and work out here. We didn’t talk for years, and then we reconnected when Foxie was out here working on her solo record. Then we started writing songs that became the first record you can hear today, and we fell in love in the process and it was kinda like we put all our cards in so to speak.
You guys just released your EP, too. Can you tell us a little about the production and writing process of that?
Foxie: We were really fortunate enough to make it with Aussie Rock producer Mark Opitz, who made AC/DC’s Powerage, and all of the albums that we grew up listening to and idolizing. The recording was at his personal recording studio in Melbourne, and it was a really great experience. You know it was a house that was turned into a studio, so we got to sleep there and then push the mattress up on the wall and just record all day.
Ronnie: And out here, it was a really organic experience. We wanted that classic rock sound. We did it the same way Mark recorded AC/DC, so it was all live in the same room. Vintage tube amps, no click track, no computer tricks. Everything you can hear is actually what was played.
That’s the best, I love that! Now Foxie, you have endorsements from Gibson Guitars and Marshall Amps, or do you both have endorsements?
Ronnie: We both do. The band is endorsed by Marshall and Gibson.
Awesome! Is there a difference in what you guys prefer to use, the different guitars you prefer to use on the record and on live performances, or are they both the same?
Foxie: I play mid-90’s Wine Red Gibson Les Paul Standard and that’s what I write a lot of the songs with. And we use that on the recording. It has a deep mahogany sound and it’s really great doing rhythm tracks.
Ronnie: And live, doing the same thing, Les Paul’s all the way. Live, I handle all the guitar duty, so Foxie can focus on singing. As far as recording is concerned, the same amps you get on the record are the same ones you get live.
Foxie: We just think nothing beats Gibson and Marshall’s; we think it’s the best sound.
You guys have released your new video too, “Before You.” What was that like working on it, and what was the idea behind the video? Was it fluid, you guys’ idea, or was it a collaboration between you, the director, and the producer?
Foxie: There were two angles. We really wanted to do a video that showed a female in a strong, sexy light. That’s why we have the film grain and the sort of Tarantino tone to it. And we also wanted to do the larger than life MTV rock video that nobody does anymore. So that’s why we went to Vashti Rosenberg who used to work with MTV Australia, so we went right to the source. She’s worked with Nickelback, Blink-182, and she was perfect, and it was really great for me, especially, to work with a female director. I think that girl power there really made it come to life.
I agree! You know, even though you two are together, and you’re the female lead, and most likely that’s the focus, do you find that there’s a shift … this could be even for your husband, too, do you two feel that there’s a shift where more women are picking up the guitar and playing music. Or do you feel like we still have a long way to go?
Foxie: I got messages when we released the EP from these young girls, they were in a band together, they would be about maybe ten to thirteen, saying I inspired them, and they hoped to be like me when they grew up. That just meant the world to me because I always remember being that age and just wishing I had somebody to look up to like that. So I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I do this, so I can make people feel less alone. I think there are lots of girls out there. You’ve got Orianthi, she’s an amazing guitarist. You’ve got Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. I think she [Lzzy] really takes the cake in terms of strong frontwomen who have a really good voice, and they’re really using it for the right reasons. I see her on social media all the time talking to her friends and giving out a good message. She’s the whole package, and I think she’s great.
Foxie: Ronnie’s great because not a lot of people feel comfortable letting, regardless of gender or age or background or anything like that, be happy to step aside and let somebody else take the spotlight and I guess we’re both good like that with each other we…
Ronnie: We know our roles.
Foxie: We know our roles and we know our parts and I want him to shine and he wants me to shine, and I’m so grateful for that. Because this industry, we’re getting there but it’s unfortunately still not wired that way. I love this interview, ’cause usually I get asked “What’s your favorite outfit?” or “What makeup do you like?” You know what I mean? Ask the fun stuff.
Ronnie: Foxie’s my wife, but she’s also the singer in the group regardless of being female or male, and there are certain roles musicians have. And I think that the true art to being a guitar player is knowing when to play and when not to play. And we’ve discussed this with Mark Opitz when he produced the record. At the end of the day, it’s about feel and melody, and serving the song is the most important thing. For me, it’s not about showing off or showing how many notes I can play, it’s about creating really good music. And I’m more than happy to step aside and chunk away on chords and let Foxie be the rockstar ’cause I’m not the singer, it’s not my job to do that. And we’ve all seen musicians that go in fighting for the limelight, and it just doesn’t work. You’re gonna trip over each other’s feet. If you go in, you step forward and you step back. That’s the difference between a great show and an amateur show.
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite thus far?
Ronnie: That’s funny you ask. We literally went to see KISS’ End of the Road tour. My first concert as a kid was KISS and Ace Frehley was my biggest influence as a guitar player.
Foxie: Yeah, me too.
So that was probably the best concert you’ve been to so far since you were a kid? And recently, correct?
Foxie: My first concert was Primus.
Foxie: Yeah, my parents are massive Primus fans. So that was my first when I was very small. I grew up going to shows, I’ve seen pretty much everybody my whole life. I’m very lucky to have parents that would even sneak me into shows when I was underage.
You had cool parents!
Foxie: I did. I was very lucky.
The last fun question I have for you is do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure that you could share with us?
Foxie: Well, I think we’re both suckers for a good pop song. I was in the car last night listening to ’90s R&B and pop, just singing. Like we’ve said before, feel the melody. I appreciate all music, and I love a good hook. I love a good melody and God, they always get stuck in my head when I drive.
Ronnie: Definitely, I wouldn’t say guilty. I’m more open about it ’cause I listen to so much music. But my favorite songwriter of all time is Billy Joel. And some people look at me like “What? Really?” When me and Foxie went along to his show at Dodgers Stadium here a couple of years ago…
Foxie: That was amazing.
Ronnie: I sang along to every single word of the set start to finish. And people around us were looking at us like “How does a 6’2″ tatted rocker dude know all the words to these album tracks by Billy Joel?” And it was heaven for me. I loved it so much. A good song’s a good song.
Foxie: Yeah a good song’s a good song regardless of its genre.
The Hots’ second single, “Shame The Devil” is out today!
Photo credit by Tony Mott