Hotline TNT, with their new album Cartwheel, has become the sound of this generation. The San Diego music scene seemed to agree as almost everyone involved in the DIY scene packed into Soda Bar to catch the band on their USA Cartwheel tour. One of the most anticipated releases of 2023, Cartwheel is an album that dives deep into the tangled complexities of relationships and human experience. Noisy, drowning music that demands to be played loud, Hotline TNT has been making waves with their releases as they gather from a wide range of influences to push forward the modern interpretation of rock and shoegaze. 

Behind the introspective and vulnerable sonic immersions the band has put forth with their music, Hotline TNT is made up of incredibly down-to-earth members. A lighthearted Instagram story begging to interview the band led me to the green room before the show, where I got to learn more about the lives of the people shaping the music that is so powerfully resonating with our generation.  

Could you guys introduce yourselves and what your roles are in the band?

W: My name is Will. I’m the singer and songwriter for the band.

MR: I’m Mike. I play drums in the band.

L: I’m Lucky. I’m an energy beacon, first and foremost, and I do whatever Will asks me to do. 

Should someone go get Matt right now? Can you go get him?

On your spotify, I thought your inspiration playlist [for the making of Cartwheel] was so funny. You had Drake, Charlie XCX, and Carly Rae Jepson. How did all of those come into your new album? You wrote in the playlist description that those were what you were listening to when you made it?

W: Yeah, we listen to all kinds of music. Good songwriting cuts through genre in my opinion. I take inspiration from all different kinds of music.

L: I mean, as far as the modern stuff on that playlist goes, I think Cartwheel is a pretty modern sounding record, for a rock record. There’s a lot going on in there that you could really directly draw a line to something like Charlie or Carly Rae Jepson

I thought it was awesome. I saw Drake and I was like “Oh my god!”

W: I’m a big Drake fan. I’ve been with Drake since the beginning. Still listen to his albums the night they come out at midnight every single time. 

Who is Flip Sandy? I kept seeing it on all of your pages. I was assuming it was your alter ego? How’d you get that name?

W: That’s a long story that I can’t share in this interview but my name, Will Anderson, is one of the most common names in the world. Someone gave me the nickname Flip when I was like 19 years old and I just kinda kept it going.

Do the rest of you guys also have nicknames?

L: My name is a nickname in a way. Lucky is a bit of a… Oh we got Matt now!

Matt B: I got Turbo. I just woke up one day and I texted Will and a host of other people and I said “I would like to go by Turbo going forward.” True story, I’m not making this up. It lasted a while. I asked everyone to change my name in their phone to Turbo. I wanted to be Turbo, so I was Turbo.

MR: Click is mine. I just kinda keep time.

W: Like a click track. I don’t know if you’ve realized but I call him Capo.

L: Nobody wants to call me anything!

MR: You were born with a nickname! I call you Luckster all the time. 

Will, you have your own fanzine for basketball. I feel like that fits into your DIY ethos of the band and your origins. How does that DIY ethos carry into your music as you continue to grow bigger?

W: Yeah, we are growing for sure. The fanzine I’d like to keep doing as much as possible. It’s definitely gotten harder as we’ve been on tour all the time. It’s just a really cool project to kinda connect with people who are dedicated to fans. It’s a fanzine. It’s supposed to be about basketball but as the zine continues on, it’s less and less about basketball and just kinda about the band and whatever I’m doing and thinking about. It’s cool. 

I was trying to read up on you guys and I heard you were from – I just kept getting so many different cities. How did you guys all meet each other?

MB: Well, I met Will about 10 years ago. It’ll actually be 10 years ago in 2 weeks. No, not even. Maybe like 5 days or something. We played a show together, his old band and my old band. That’s how we met.

What was your band?

MB: It’s called Happy Diving. He was in a band called Weed. And both those bands played together in Oakland. We became best friends instantly. We were texting like every day after that.

L: I love that so much. I mean me and Mike have known each other for a pretty long time. 

MR: Like 8 years.

L: We toured together a pretty long time ago and just saw each other on the regular every year after that. And then Halen, who is also in the band, plays bass but he’s not here. my best friend, he’s the one that asked me to play with Hotline. I just met these guys like 2 months ago.

W: Well, we did meet before.

L: We did meet. It was not a favorable meeting though. I didn’t have the best impression of Will. But I have been quick to write people off.

So how’d you reconnect then?

W: Well, Halen.

L: Purely circumstantial.

W: We had 2 people that were playing in the band that kinda dropped out right before tour. And first it was the bass player. And Mike hit up Halen. I was like “I never really met him. I don’t trust him.” But it worked out great. And then the guitar player dropped out next tour and Halen’s like “Well, I got this guy named Lucky” and I was like “I don’t know this guy either”.

MB: I was trying to get it to be a 4 piece. I was like “Why don’t we just do it with the 4? I think it can sound great. 2 guitars is fine.” I wasn’t against Lucky. I was like “He’s probably cool. He’s probably a nice guy” but I don’t know.

L: You were scared!

MB: I was scared.

W: But now I can’t see it with any other line up. 

When you released Nineteen in Love, it was only on Youtube. What went behind that decision to keep it off streaming sites like Spotify? 

W: I wasn’t even really a user of those softwares for a long time and it was just kinda a way to make the people work a little harder to be engaged with the music. It’s kinda like the fanzine. I don’t do a blog. I do it where you have to actually subscribe and order the zine. It’s kinda the same thing with the music. You have to work for it a little bit.

What caused you to put it on streaming services now? Was it just gaining traction?

W: My girlfriend at the time told me to do it. 

What’s something that fans might be surprised to learn about you? It could be a hidden talent, something that’s always coming up on your instagram explore page, or a weird hobby?

MB: I paint miniatures. I paint them and I sell them. Like War Hammer, older games. On Ebay.I’m not like making lots of money off of it. The hours I’m putting in isn’t equating to much money, but it’s a fun hobby and I don’t care to keep them that much. It’s more the process I enjoy.

How’d you get into that?

MB: When I was a kid, I went to the mall and there was a Games Workshop and I was like “This is the coolest thing.” I ended up buying miniatures, started painting and then I stopped. Over the pandemic I started it up again. And then I got really invested in getting good at it.

W: I have some facetime screenshots of you with your special glasses on, like magnifying glasses.

MB: They’re reading glasses but I have this huge light, overhead light, that’s super super bright. Just like elbows up, miniature right here, hours and hours, podcast on. True flow state.

Do you guys have any other niche hobbies?

L: I’m a very serious Super Smash Brothers Melee player. Very heavily invested. I’ve been watching a tournament on my phone off and on all day. I’m a big spectator, big player. That’s probably my most niche hobby. I don’t expose it about myself very often. You guys have to have something.

W: It’s okay. Everyone knows about mine. Basketball, Fortnite, Family Guy.

MR: I’m a big cook, I guess. I love cooking. I love spending all day just making a sauce. Just spending 6 hours, 7 hours. 

I’m the world’s shittiest cook.

L: Not for long! It’s the easiest thing to get into!

MR: You just have to be patient. It’s all order of when you do things. You got this.

L: My two top tips for improving your cooking immediately. Stop cooking on high heat. And salt at every step.

MR: And try it along the way. There’s a lot we could get into.

Looking back on your journey with music, what’s a moment or accomplishment you’re particularly proud of, either personally or as a band?

L: There’s a couple for me. The first was making my first actual record, like having a vinyl record pressed. That was a big one. But I think the biggest for me was playing a couple gigs in Iceland, which is just like a thing I don’t think anybody does. But that was a moment where I got off the plane where I was like “Oh fuck, I’m like really doing it here.” Even if there were only 48 people at the show or something. It felt insane.

MR: Mine’s pretty similar. It’s playing a show in Indonesia, in Jakarta. It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. It was with this band called Ekulu, a hardcore band. But we did Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australia. But Jakarta specifically was the craziest, most fun.

W: There’s a lot for me that are kinda similar. Putting out the first record. There’s a bunch. Even having it come out on this label. Jack White being involved. I mean, I could even pinpoint the Tree Fort show as being like “Wow, this is 2,000 people in here crowd surfing for our entire set.” But that’s just a recent one. All the album release shows are all sticking out in my mind. It’s really big moments.

MB: I would say related to this band, I mean, I’ve known Will a long time, and I’ve always thought his music was great, but I never saw it be reacted to the way that this record was. It’s nice, as a friend, to watch a friend of mine who has been making music for a long time succeed in that way. That was really cool. 

I know you were part of Weed and both bands have such a unique style and a lot of the fanbase overlaps. How do you think that time in that band has bled into Hotline TNT?

W: I mean, that was the band I was doing for 5 years and that band ended and I just started this one. It’s pretty much Weed 2.0. The difference is that that was more of a duo of song writers. Me and my friend Kevin. But Hotline is pretty much just me writing the songs.

Do you find it easier to express yourself alone or is it easier with another person helping you with that creative process?

W: I like having people to work with. We’re working on a new record right now that we’re all kind of chiming in a bit more than the last one. I’m happy with that. It’s going well. Even on this tour, we have a song we’re working on but it’s kinda evolving on the road with everyone throwing little bits of flavor in there. I’ve always wanted to have more people involved. Just a matter of circumstance of being solo.

My last question I have for you guys is Instagram Reels or TikTok?

W: Tiktok.

MB: Neither. Absolutely neither. We had a conversation about this the other day actually. It would be Instagram Reels for the record. But 3 days ago we were all in the van, we were all in a mood. We were so serious, like bummed that day. Will wasn’t there. We were sitting in the van just talking about how Instagram Reels was just ruining like everybody. It started because I was getting really upset. I watched this video of this girl who went into surgery so they put her under. You know when you come out of surgery, you’re super fucked up. And all she was doing when she came out was regurgitating memes. It’s all she was doing. Like “skibidi toilet”. She was just yelling memes. It was in her brain. At her brain’s lowest functioning state, she was just reciting memes. And I was like “You know what, fuck this. I don’t ever want to look at that shit ever again.” It’s such poison. I have nothing else in me. All my brain space. I couldn’t even remember what movies I watched last night when I was having a conversation yesterday. But I can remember any fucking meme verbatim, word for word. Fuck them both. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore.

L: I’m a Reels. After all’s said and done, I’m going Reels.

W: I’m a TikTok guy. I don’t have an issue. I’m not saying that to put myself up or anything. I just don’t have an issue where I’m on there for 30 minutes. 10 minutes and I’m good. I think it’s fun.

MR: I’d say Instagram for me. 

MB: On Instagram it’s so fucked up that they forced it on you. I used to be on Instagram, able to look at stories and posts, and be like “Yeah, this is kinda addictive.” I thought it was addictive then. But with the reels on there now. I don’t have the ability to stop like some other people will. 2 hours go by and I’d rather not be alive than have to look at this shit anymore

L: Yeah. I get so stuck in the hole. I love it when I’m doing it so much it’s crazy. It feels so good when I’m doing it. And then as soon as I pry my phone out of my hand that’s now stuck in the shape of my phone, all of a sudden I’m in this immense psychic pain. And then I have to show my girlfriend all the reels I liked.

It’s like the hunter / gatherer mode, where you went hunting for all the memes.

L: Yeah. My girlfriend won’t download TikTok, but her friends send her TikTok all the time. So I have the app to show her all the TikToks that her friends are sending and also to gather what I call “The Sunday Funnies”. So I get them throughout the week, the ones I think she would like, and on Sunday we lay in bed and I show her them. Also, every other night of the week actually. It’s a whole thing.  But my algorithm’s really fucked up right now so I’m off TikTok. I can’t fix it. Nothing’s funny anymore. I started watching Home Inspection videos and that’s all I get now. 

As I left the greenroom to return to the buzzing crowd that was anxiously awaiting the power chords to come, I felt a deep appreciation for the authenticity and passion that the band brought to the table. It was no wonder that their music has inspired so many. Genuine yet succinct feelings layered on top of emotional prolonged harmonies that force you to sit with those thoughts. Hotline TNT continues to captivate audiences and carve their own path in the music industry with their artistic integrity. KCR can’t wait to follow them on their journey.