Fan Culture / Reading United AC

RU Ready? A Q&A with The Hot Box Hooligans

Featured image: Eryin Wandel

PSP talks with Jeffrey Mitchell and Marisa Salazar about their band The Hot Box Hooligans and the song they wrote for Reading United, “RU Ready?” The song is now also being used to raise money for Kicks Against Cancer.

Philly Soccer Page: Tell us about your musical background.

Jeffrey Mitchell: I’ve been obsessed with music my whole life. My earliest childhood memories involve rummaging through my mom’s Beach Boys and Beatles 45s and playing them over and over on my Masters of the Universe record player. I never even thought about touching an instrument until 1994 when I heard “Live Forever” by Oasis. After that I was a man on a mission. I taught myself guitar and decided it was easier to write my own songs than learn songs other people wrote. After that I played in loads of garage bands that never left the garage. It wasn’t until 2005 when I started The Modern Hypocrites with my buddy Dustin Bennett (who I taught how to play bass) that started taking my guitar playing and songwriting seriously.

Marisa Salazar: I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 5 years old. I played in a cover band throughout high school to make money and ventured to the Philly area to pursue my dreams. In the 90’s I played with a metal act, Fake ID, which became Wicked Stepmother. I went back to school in 1995 to get my college degree in Music Therapy and didn’t come back to the music scene til 2005. During that time I joined Shiragirl (all girl electro pop punk) and traveled all over the country in a pink RV in the Warped Tour. I joined the Kaitlin Sweeny band, then Leiana and then Da Rezarekt in 2007.

PSP: How did you become involved in the Kicks Against Cancer project? Did Reading approach you with the idea for the song “RU Ready?”?

JM: Trey Madera (Director of Video Production for Reading United) and Eryin Wandel (Wandel Designs) kept telling me how cool it would be if someone wrote an anthem for Reading United. I thought it was a great idea, but one I never thought I would be personally involved in. Eventually it landed back into my lap and I’m really glad it did. It wasn’t until after the song was written that Marisa and I decided that the best thing to do with “RU Ready?” was to use it to inspire people and to raise awareness and money for Kicks Against Cancer. We also really wanted to honor the legacy of Paul “Archie” Moylan former Reading team captain, coach, and general manager who died of cancer in 2001. I pitched the idea to current Reading United GM Art Auchenbach who was absolutely thrilled with the song and the idea of using it as the official team anthem and for Kicks Against Cancer.

MS: Jeffrey, the lead singer for the HBH, hooked us up. His contact with Trey Madara lead us to this project (At first, I was sending Trey instrumentals for his videos of Reading United).

I expressed to Jeff, that some day, I would like to write soundtracks to movies, videos or sporting events. The idea for the song came from Reading United: RU Ready.

PSP: Tell us a bit about The Hot Box Hooligans. Was the band brought together for the charity project?

JM: The Hot Box Hooligans are Marisa Salazar (guitars), Dee Miller (bass), Derek Gallagher (drums) and myself (vocals). We were assemble specifically for this project, but our musical family tree has been connected for years. I was a huge fan of Marisa and Dee’s old band Da Rezarekt. Derek Gallagher was in the second incarnation of my own band The Modern Hypocrites, which I lovingly refer to as The Modern Hypocrites 2.0. When I got married and settled down to start my family I hung up my guitar and microphone. At the very same time Da Rezarekt was searching to find a new drummer. I made it my mission to get my favorite drummer (Derek) into my favorite band (Da Rezarekt). The rest as they say is history. Things came full circle for me with this project as I got to become the lead singer of Da Rezarekt.

MS: Yes, The Hot Box Hooligans were brought together by the charity project. The drummer Derek Gallagher aka Dar was a drummer for Jeff’s old band The Modern Hypocrites and my old band Da Rezarekt. Derek Miller, a.k.a. Puffy, played bass in Da Rezarekt. So, we were all related in some way (Laughs). “Hotbox” is a railroad term. A hot box is an overheated wheel journal. The journal is located in a box … Hotboxes often caught fire, and smoked or sparked. The attitude of the band is fiery. Sparks flying everywhere! “ Hooligans” was basically conjured through our love of raw, punk music, and soccer.

PSP: Where did you record the song? How was the recording session?

JM: We recorded the song in Dee’s basement, a.k.a. Stone Modus Studio, later at night while his wife Angela and daughter Gwen were sleeping. Thank God for soundproofing! It was a really quick session. We had barely learned the song and practiced it together only a handful of times before we recorded it. It ended up working in our favor as we wanted the song to be as raw and spontaneous as the soccer chants that inspired it.

MS: Puffy was kind enough to let us record in his studio Stone Modus Studio Inc. Prior to that, I was sending everyone rough ideas of the music. Jeff was writing the lyrics. Dar and Puffy were the glue that held everything together. We were communicating via the internet and the phone for a few weeks; had a couple of pre-production practices and then boom: Everything came together. The recording was a lot of fun. Dar and Puffy are always a pleasure to work with. Similarly, I’ve always wanted to work with Jeffrey.

PSP: How would you describe the song? It’s something of a Reading United fight song.

JM: I would describe the song simply as a soccer chant set to music. I wanted something that could be listened to as pump up music in the locker room by players and something the Reading supporters group The Locos could chant during games at Don Thomas Stadium.

MS: Absolutely (Laughs). “This train don’t stop til we reach the top”

PSP: How can fans contribute to Kicks Against Cancer?

JM & MS: All they have to do is go to and for as little as 99 cents (or as much as you want) you can download the song. All proceeds will be donated to Kicks Against Cancer and used to benefit the American Cancer Society and the Jolee Boarder Foundation in honor of the late great Reading team captain, coach, and general manager Paul “Archie” Moylan and all the brave souls who are fighting the good fight against cancer. Payment can be made by either PayPal or by credit/debit cards.

PSP: What’s next for The Hot Box Hooligans?

JM: We were asked to perform the song live before one of the remaining Reading United home games. So I would say that it what’s next for The Hot Box Hooligans. We also plan to celebrate when Reading United win the PDL Championship. “This Train Won’t Stop Til We Reach The Top Til We Reach The Top And We Make It Our Spot!” RU Ready?!”

MS: We were asked by George Gadebusch to play at one of the remaining Reading United Home Games. So, we’ll be busy to preparing for that. After that, who knows, we’re going to get right back on that train & rock on to our next destination. No pressures (Laughs). We’ll see where that takes us.


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