Introducing HotWax, the 18-year-old grunge enthusiasts named after an unsung overdrive pedal and making ’90s alt-rock anthems for generation Z

HotWax's
(Image credit: Tallulah Sim-Savage)

Led by guitarist/vocalist Tallulah Sim-Savage, HotWax are tipped as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. After a string of self-released singles and incendiary live shows, the trio recently landed a deal with Marathon Artists to unleash their debut EP, A Thousand Times.

The earliest compositions on the angsty five-track were penned when Tallulah was just 15 years old, yet they effervesce with the immediacy of a freshly caught brainwave. “We tried not to overthink things or be ridiculously perfect with everything we recorded,” explains the now-18-year-old musician.

Born and raised in the small but vibrant artistic community of Hastings, Tallulah’s journey towards becoming a swaggering punk-rock frontwoman with fierce fretboard skills to match has a touch of destiny about it. 

Her musical life began at eight years old, when – a country music fan in those days – she’d strum acoustic tunes in her bedroom. She credits a surprise gift from her mother as being “the thing that changed everything”. That gift was Hole’s Live Through This album.

A concoction of other “’90s influences”, Blondie and “watching female heavy musicians” fuelled the young player’s fascination with guitar-based catharsis, and she overcame shyness to pursue her rock ’n’ roll dream.

Nowadays, she struts about the stage with the veteran confidence of her heroines and will always be seen with her Fender Jaguar, which she’s modified with a Bigsby and two P-90s in place of the “fizzy” stock humbuckers for a striking look and sound. 

Tallulah’s go-to pedal, and the inspiration for the band’s name, is the lesser-spotted Electro-Harmonix Hot Wax Dual Overdrive, which she combines with a pair of Fulltone OCDs. Why two? Well, there’s one “on the high-peak setting for the chorus bits” and another “on the low-peak setting for middle heaviness”.

On the EP, you’ll also hear the soul-shaking force of a Keeley Fuzz Bender and an Electro-Harmonix POG for adventures into multiple octaves.

Tallulahs’s instinct for crafting a unique sonic thumbprint also extends to the amp department where she chooses a Fender Excelsior – a now-discontinued, compact and modestly appointed tube amp that’s often actually favoured by harmonica players. “It just has a dark and light switch, and a volume,” she shrugs. “I love valve amps and I love the simplicity.”

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Ellie Rogers

Since graduating university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and GuitarWorld.com, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.