Toronto’s Hot Lips wants to stand out

It’s difficult to stand out in a music industry that has so many artists but Keith Heppler, Alex Black and Karli Forget have managed to carve out a unique spot for Hot Lips, a band they started last year without a single guitar in the mix.

They headline an evening at The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar & Hotdoggery later this month.

“We really wanted to be a songwriting oriented band; pop songs that people could sing along,” said drummer/percussionist Keith Heppler. “We wanted to be a type of rock band; wanted to stand out.”

Each had a meeting of the minds over a large rhythm section. Their sound comes from a blend of fuzz pedals, synths and hard hitting drums.

All three musicians brought experience playing in other bands. Heppler was playing with band that was about to head out on tour and he felt it would the last. He met Forget through a music forum, where she had posted some songs. Forget handles vocals, synths for the band — and the name was actually her idea. Black, who plays bass and contributes backing vocals, was known from touring with other bands.

“The first few rehearsals Karli was on synthesiser and I was on drums; she is actually a drummer. This is her first time getting out (in front) singing,” he said. “All of us have had our careers separately in music, touring with bands. (We’d) joke: guitar players are the most difficult to work with.”

Since they formed in early 2016, they have digitally released their first EP, named for the first single, American Hardcore, and are touring to promote it. They plan to do their first music video for the song Limelight on Dec. 9.

Songwriting is a collaborative process that usually begins with a basic melody from Forget. She also does the lyrics, which are “all over the map” in terms of subject matter. She came from a musical family, learned how to play drums by ear and performed with Crooked Valentine, Purr and Scarlet Sins.

Black is a classically trained violin player. Heppler took some drum lessons and has played with several bands from Secret Broadcast and Die Mannequin to Saigon Hookers. All are in their late 20s and all had similar ideas on how music should be made.

Hot Lips made an appearance in Barrie last year. It was the second live show they did together. This time, they will be appearing with three other bands, most of them local.

“It’s going to be a big party,” said Heppler.

The evening also marks the full-length CD release for the alt-rock band Rue Bella. The piano driven band from Newmarket won Rock 95’s Local & Loud 2016 competition, released their first EP last spring and has performed at the Horseshoe Tavern, Lee’s Palace and Mavricks Music Hall, including opening for Juno Award-winning band Finger Eleven.

The Noolands is a four-piece Barrie-based band that features a couple of music teachers from the Spaulding School of Music. Formed in 2014, they are a rock ‘n’ roll band that likes to write and record music for a growing group of ‘best friends’. They brought in 2017 by playing a Poor Man’s News Year’s Ball in downtown Barrie.

The Toronto-based band The Crooked rounds out the lineup. It’s relatively new project by lead singer J.C. Sandoval, who has played with the Die Mannequin and Secret Broadcast in the past.

The event takes place on Saturday, Nov. 25 at The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar & Hotdoggery, 16 Dunlop St. E., beginning at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.

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