Rock On!: The Making of Closer to Heaven (Part 6)

The Hot Tub Metal Machine performing at the Ridgecrest Music Festival
(Photo by David Turnbaugh)

A show set in a nightclub without a band? A music store without live music? AS IF! Closer to Heaven marks the first Master Mystery Production with a live musical act. Now there have been past shows with music, but nothing like this. We’re talking loud and proud 80’s rock. We are cranking up the amps and letting The Hot Tub Metal Machine take center stage in this behind-the-velvet-rope blog post! Meet the band who will play during our amazing production of Closer to Heaven is this one-of-a-kind interview.

ROCK ON!: The Making of Closer to Heaven (Part 6)

The Hot Tub Metal Machine
from L to R: Eric Lawrence (guitar, backup vocals), Zach Bell (drums), Kenneth Ramone (lead singer), and Chris Glenn (bass)

MMP: Welcome to the Master Mystery Productions blog, Hot Tub Metal Machine! We’re excited to have you join us as our house band for Closer to Heaven. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?

Eric: Chris Glenn plays the bass. I’m Eric Lawrence. I do the guitars and some vocals. And then Zach Bell is our drummer. Kenneth Ramone, lead vocals.

MMP: Great to meet all of you. Why don’t you tell us the story of how the band got together?

Eric: Kenny and I both play in other bands in town that have been around for a little bit now. I play in a band called Nine o’clock Is the New 40; Kenny plays in a band called Mad Epidemic. So we were doing those for a while. I think both of us were kind of trying to really get movie songs into our sets. You know, his band’s a punk band and my band’s more like a thrash metal type band. And none of our bandmates liked that we liked the eighties stuff. And so anyway, our bands ended up doing some shows together.

Kenneth: And then like after one of our shows together, the two of us just started jamming, and we played like a Mötley Crüe song. We’re like, this sounds really good.

Eric: Yeah. We had a different drummer then. Not Zach. Somebody else was there; Just one of the drummers from one of the other bands. The stage was all set up with all the lights and stuff and we’re like, “Oh, everybody’s gone. Let’s just see what happens.” Yeah. We did “Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe together. I’m like, “This is fun, man.” And I think Kenny like totally looks the part of a singer too. So then we started saying, “Why don’t we just like, without even rehearsing or anything, just do some songs at an open mic night or something?” We got one of his band mates from Mad Epidemic to throw down drums for us, like once for that. And I think we just had such a good time. We’re like, let’s just make it an actual band.

Kenneth: And now we practice every week. It’s great!

MMP: And now you have a gid at our show.

Kenneth: Wonderful!

Eric: So Chris was recommended to us by one of his band mates. And then Zach’s one of my like best friends. And so we’ve known each other forever and we just, it just kind of worked out, man.

MMP: And how did you come up with your band name?

Kenneth: Uh, well, I wanted to name the band Hot Tub Time Machine, cuz it’s like one of my favorite movies, but it was taken. So Eric suggested, “Well, how about Hot Tub Metal Machine?” I’m like, “I like it. So let’s do that.”

Eric: It was so funny cuz yeah, Kenny and I were talking about it on text. And he was like, “Oh Hot Tub Time Machine is taken. And I might have had a drink or two in me, and I was like, “Just call it Hot Tub Metal Machine. And then like, I think a few days later we’re talking and we were like, that’s kind of a rad name. Stick with it.

Hot Tub Metal Machine playing at the Ridgecrest Music Festival
Photo courtesy of the band’s Instagram.

MMP: What style of music do you play?

Eric: So we pretty much wanna play like eighties hair metal and stuff, but we’ve kind of opened it up to include pretty much anything eighties.

Kenneth: Yeah. Some classic rock too.

Eric: Some classic rock, but we try to find like classic rock that we think still fits like the spirit of our set. We just wanna play fun songs. It’s supposed to be a party. So we have a Led Zeppelin song in there. So that’s a 70’s song, but we felt like it still fits. Like ACDC’s in there.

Kenneth: Yeah, it also fits with like Def Leppard and the other stuff we’re doing as well.

Kenneth Ramone, lead singer of The Hot Tub Metal Machine (Photo by David Turnbaugh)

MMP: How would describe your style of performing?

Eric: I hope people think we have energy.

Zach: Very energetic.

MMP: I would be surprised if they didn’t.

Eric: I think this guy’s [Kenneth Ramone] incredible. He just can’t stop dancing. I really try to be very energetic and fun, cuz in my other band, I’m the lead singer. So I have to worry about that. So it kinda limits a little bit of what I can do movement-wise if I’m doing this and singing. So this band’s super fun. ‘Cause I do some backup vocals, but like I can just think about having fun. It’s so much looser, and they’re just fun songs to play.

Bass player Chriss Glenn and Lead singer Kenneth Ramone
(Photo by David Turnbaugh)

MMP: And that’s really why we were excited to have you guys do this show, because what we want is fun. So who would you call your musical inspirations?

Kenneth: Guns ‘n’ Roses. Quiet Riot. The Ramones. The Misfits. Those are the main ones.

Eric: Just in terms of like my guitar playing for this style of music, I mean obviously like Eddie van Halen is a huge influence. I put Slash in there too. You know, there’s mixed opinions on him, but I just like guys like that are technical and know how to play, but at the same time, they’re still composing something that sounds good. Like I don’t like musicians that are just showing off, you know.

Zach: There is only one answer for that, and that’s Neil Peart, the greatest drummer who ever lived.

MMP: And what are your favorite songs to play?

Eric: I think “Cherry Pie” (from Warrant) is probably my favorite. It’s a super fun song. My favorite solo is probably “Rock You Like a Hurricane” (from Scorpions).

Kenneth: For the longest time, it was “Talk Dirty to Me” (from Poison) for me, cuz it was from the movie, Hot Tub Time Machine. But recently we threw in “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. And I never thought I could sing that. And then one day we just went in there, and I’m like, wow, I could sing that.

Eric: My favorite one to listen to Kenny sing is “Whole Lotta Love.” When I suggested we do Led Zeppelin, he was like, “I don’t know if I could sing [Robert] Plant. Like I don’t know.” And he was sort of hesitant about it. We played it a couple times, and I recorded it. And when I went back and listened to it, I was like, “That sounds like Led Zeppelin, man.” That’s such a, you know, legendary and iconic band, like just to be in that moment and feel like I can close my eyes and I [sound] like [John] Bonham and you know, Plant over here.”

Kenneth: That song is a lot of fun.

Drummer Zach Bell and Guitar Eric Lawrence
(Photo by David Turnbaugh)

MMP: Tell us a story about a memorable performance you had together.

Zach: There was the time I was half-asleep and Eric was like, “All right. We’re up. Good luck.”

Eric: So when we did open jam at Moe’s Music, I’m sure you remember, like there’s no timeline and lots of people show up. You play when they tell you to play.

Zach: I go to bed religiously at nine o’clock.

Eric: And so we got there at six. We probably went on around nine, I think maybe. So it was pretty, pretty late. And we were sitting there, this guy [Zach], he’s got a baby at home and stuff, and you could just look at him and tell how tired he was. Then, all of a sudden, it’s time. So then I pulled them aside and I was kind of pumping everybody up. I’m like, “I don’t care if you play the right notes. Just be super energetic. Just bounce around. Do all that stuff.” He played well, but you could read the fatigue.

Zach: I probably looked stoned. Sorry about that.

Eric: But then I think Kenny and I were pretty determined to fill the energy gap, cuz we acted silly.

Kenneth: So for me, the only thing that comes to mind is when we were jamming and it was our first time doing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” (from Def Leppard), and [Eric’s] dog was howling. I guess he really liked that song. And so now every time I perform that song, I hear the dog in my head.

Kenneth Ramone
(Photo by Davis Turnbaugh)

MMP: What drew you to perform in Closer to Heaven with Master Mystery Productions?

Eric: So I saw your guys’ ad and I wasn’t sure if you were looking for live music for it. I sent Kenny a text just with a link to it. I was like, “This is eighties. Like that’s kind of our thing. Do you think we should say something?” And he was like, “Why not?” So I sent you a text and then almost instantly you reply “YES!”.

Kenneth: And also like on my free time, sometimes I do a little bit of acting and movies and stuff. And so my friends saw this eighties production, they recommended it to me and I was like, okay, you know, that’s, that’s definitely right on my alley. And then not that much longer, [Eric] sent me the link to the event and he is all like, “I wonder if they need the live music.” So it was perfect.

MMP: And what excites you most about the show?

Eric: Just the way you described recreating [the period], like it’s not just people are watching this eighties thing on stage, but recreating this eighties vibe that like the whole audience is a part of. And I thought the stuff you said about having the actors and some of the action happening in the audience. I think all of that was super cool. I said I would do it before we had that conversation. I think just the initial thing of an eighties thing, this fits. But then when it was described, I was just like, “That’s just an amazing kind of vision. It’s just something I’d like to be a part of.”

Kenneth: Exactly. Yeah. For me it’s like heaven because it’s the eighties music, it’s a theater production, and we get to perform. It’s awesome. I’m just so excited.

Eric: And then another thing when we talked about it, and I asked you “How much do you want us to play?” ‘Cause I was thinking, “Do they want us to like haul our stuff out there and do one song while people are watching?” Wouldn’t have been as excited. You tell me, pretty much you’re getting the stage and you can have this whole musical segment in the middle and the rest of the time we can just enjoy the show. Just everything about it is a thing that I’d like to do.

Eric Lawrence
(Photo by David Turnbaugh)

MMP: Any special teasers about what you’re going to play at Closer to Heaven?

Eric: Just expected to be loud, man. Loud. Then get ready to dance. Like I said, a lot of eighties hair metal, but then we’ll throw a few surprises. I don’t wanna say songs specifically, but it’s just a party. Like I said, we don’t wanna play anything that’s not positive, fun music. Don’t expect us to get out there and start singing sad songs. Yeah. We’re just gonna bounce around and act real silly.

MMP: And where can fans find more of your music and work?

Eric: They should check out our Facebook and Instagram pages.

MMP: Great! Thank you for letting us interview you and being a part of Closer to Heaven. This is going to be an amazing show! And we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for any further performances from Hot Tub Metal Machine.

The Hot Tub Metal Machine (photo by Eric Lawrence)

We want to thank Hot Tub Meal Machine for joining us on the MMP blog, and we can’t wait to hear the–as Crystal Cunningham would put it–“totally bitchin’ tunes” this band will play at Closer to Heaven. You can see them at the show this weekend! With music in the air, moonlight madness in the club, and a murder mystery to solve, Closer to Heaven is going to go down in history as one of our biggest spectacles ever.

You have only one weekend to see this amazing production! Get your tickets soon at Red Rock Books or at the door. Let’s have a totally radical time! We open Friday! See you then!

–Master Mystery Productions

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