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The Front Bottoms bring the heat for fans on Hot Chocolate Tour

21st Century Media/Digital First Media, @GraffonMu

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The Front Bottoms thought about "ripping off the Budweiser slogan" for its winter tour -- This Tour's For You -- according to frontman Brian Sella.

But the New Jersey quartet figured The Hot Chocolate Tour would be more seasonally appropriate. And probably avoid any trademark infringements.

"We just wanted something clever," says Sella, 25, who co-founded the acoustic-based punk group with drummer Mathew Uychich in 2006. "We thought (the Budweiser slogan) was so frickin' lame, and then we came up with Hot Chocolate. That keeps people warm in the winter, so we just kind of ran with it.

"And we figure if there's people online at the shows, we'll get a bunch of hot chocolate mixes and go out and hand out (drinks) on the cold days -- just a little thing to make it more than just showing up and seeing the band, you know."

Those fans will see what Sella considers "the best lineup" of the Front Bottoms yet. Bassist Tom Warren and multi-instrumentalist Ciaran O'Donnell, he says, have put their stamp on the group's sound, and after making 2013's "Talon of the Hawk" album he considers the group a bona fide quartet rather than just a duo with sidemen.

"They're definitely in the band at this point," Sella says. "We went through a bunch of lineup changes, including me and Matt playing with a laptop, but now that there's two other musicians in the band it makes it easier. It's definitely more about the feeling of the songs and reacting to the audience. Me and Matt wouldn't be able to recreate the songs live if it wasn't for those two, and they're our buddies, so it's fun to play music with them.

"I always like to keep my options open. We might meet somebody who's really good at saxophone and have them play with us, too. But it does feel like a four-piece at this point, which is nice."

The Front Bottoms, The Wild, Kevin Devine, Gates, City Lights and others perform at Fusion Shows 6th Birthday concert, Friday, Jan. 10, at the Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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