Up next is Milwaukee thunder Doomhammer! At the end of 2015 they delivered a real kick in the teeth with their first ever LP "Reclaiming Valhalla" for Crowd Control Media, so I thought it was time to hook up with frontman Jon for a small interview! Great read I'd say myself, so enjoy!
Hi Jon, first of all thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment?
Things are going good! Ready for this long ass winter to be over!
Could you give a small introduction of Doomhammer and how you guys got together before we kick this interview off?
Sure! Doomhammer started out as a reaction to the Metalcore scene in Milwaukee, I was sick of the whole thing and wanted to get back to real hardcore. Doomhammer was originally Me on Drums, Ryan Ogrizovich on Guitar, Hank Medrow on vocals and our buddy Koppa on bass. We had a few practices and things didn’t work out, so Ryan and I kept jamming and writing. We had some friends that were in a local band called Once For All, their drummer Klug, was looking for a side project, so he came by and jammed a bit with us and I grabbed the mic. That solidified the core of Doomhammer. We had numerous bass players over the last 10 years. Right now, the lineup is Ryan still on guitar, Me on vocals, and we have Mike Kerby on drums, Tim Hespe on 2nd guitar and Miles Thornburg on bass, all from another local band called All To Hell.
Thanks! Let’s start off with the recently released LP “Reclaiming Valhalla”, after several digital releases the first physical release I believe and it’s crackin’! Therefor I wonder why it took so long to get some work of you guys out on vinyl?
Thanks! Glad you like it! Doomhammer has always been a pretty DIY band. We’ve had 2 physical releases on CD and 2 digital releases. I think the reason we never had any vinyl releases was because its fucking expensive to press records! Hahaha! We are a working class band that for the first 9 years paid outta pocket for everything, so the easiest way to put things out was going the cheap route.
I think the tracklist is in somewhat of a chronical order of when the songs got recorded and especially the newer songs like “Bury Me At Sea” and “Ice Beast” roar out of my speakers! How do you think yourself that Doomhammer evolved over the years?
Yeah, Reclaiming Vahalla begins with songs off the the 2006 demo my cousin recorded in his basement, the Cutting The Dead Weight full length, the 2010 EP, and the Beyond The Pale full length…the final 4 songs are all 2015. I think we evolved in a lot of different ways. Griz has always been a great song writer on guitar, but I feel in the last 3 years he really shines with originality. I feel my lyrics have all grown with life experience…shitty times really brought out a lot and I used Doomhammer as a platform, which was very therapeutic. I think we originally just wanted to say FUCK YOU to a scene of geeks and it all evolved into a something really personal that brought the band even closer.
Overall your lyrics can be really confronting and quite personal, especially the earlier tracks on the A-side of the LP contain a lot of anger and frustration. Music is always a great way to deal with your demons, but don’t you ever feel any angst sharing it with pretty much anyone who has an internet connection?
Thanks Mano. Yeah, that A side was written around the time the United States was going through recession, I just had my first kid, I had just lost my job of 10 years. It was a trying time to say the least. I have always viewed hardcore and punk to be something personal. I don’t mind sharing that with the world. That’s what this is about, opening up and screaming our frustrations and angers at a fucked up system, screaming at ourselves for mistakes, living with regrets and trying to make it in this world. The bands that have always moved me were the honest and heart felt. I know my lyrics can be bleak at times but they are always laced with a bit of hope. And honestly, I’m a “heart on my sleeve" kinda guy, if someone has an issue with my lyrics on the internet, they can fuck off.
The album ends with a stunning cover-version of the Blitz’ classic “New Age”, also the only song where things slow down a bit and featuring a very special guest appearance. How proud were you when you heard that final mix for the first time?
Thanks! Yeah, we’ve had a really great response to that song. Recording that was a really special time. My daughter Lola does the chorus gang vocals and has a singing part at the end. It brought tears to my eyes when I heard the finished product. To hear my girl singing the words to a song that has left an imprint on me, was truly amazing. I don’t know if she understands the impact now, but hopefully when she gets older and looks back and listens, she will look back with a great memory we were able to share, and that song will never be the same for me.
As said earlier, “Reclaiming Valhalla” was Doomhammer’s first ever physical release, are you happy with how the final result turned out?
We are thrilled with how it turned out! I love the look and the sound of it. It has a real DIY vibe to it, and that’s been Doomhammers vibe from the beginning. I couldn’t be happier with it. Also, having artwork done by Charles Hamilton of the Whiskey Rebels was a major deal for us. The sound turned out good and the songs that CCM picked are a great representaion of the last 10 years.
More recently you guys headed back into the studio to lay down some new tracks. What can we expect from these new tracks? I hope more double-bass drums?!
There are definitely a bunch of double bass parts!!! We actually went back to our roots with this recording and did it with our brother Jordan, who is trying to start his own studio. I would say you can expect a lot of the same Doomhammer sound that you heard in 2015. We wanted a real raw sound this time around and I think we achieved it. It was also a good experience not knowing what we were doing with these songs and had no label to worry about or any time constraints.
Can you give a scoop on what, when and how these new tracks will be released?
There are gonna be 8 new track and one cover by Alice In Chains. We decided last minute in the studio to do something different, so Them Bones by Alice In Chains was chosen. We're pretty stoked to get these songs out. So far, the only plans we have with these songs are releasing them on CD with a split we have coming out with Cycle Of Violence from Detroit. I still have vocals to finish up and they should be mastered and finished by Spring.
Besides family, work and the band you do some writing yourself as well for the Oi! Of America blog. I personally don’t know shit about playing music, I wonder how it is to write about other bands when you’re in a band yourself?
I like it. It’s hard sometimes when you hear a release that you really don’t like, and you have to be honest about it. Lars had to tell me to speak the truth no matter what. If I dont like a release, I'll say it. I’ve had some people tell me my opinion sucks, but guess what? Its my review and I’m writing it, so blow me…if you disagree with my opinion, go ahead and write your own review.
What bands you have written about, or in general, do you think we have to be on the lookout for in 2016?
Oh man, there are so many!!! I’ve been addicted to Syndrome 81 lately, Legion 76, Zone Infinie, Last Crusade, I can’t wait to hear new Victory, Coldside, Rixe, Urban Savage, just heard a few new DDC tracks this morning that were killer, just did a review on a great band from Chicago called Short Fuse, really great hardcore, another hardcore band from Chicago is Absent Minds that just dropped a killer demo on bandcamp, I’ve been jamming a ton of UK82 and 80's East Coast Core…King Nine, Rude Awakening, lotsa French Oi, Taxi Driver, Lions Law….the list is really endless.
How much will it cost me to take you over from Lars and his crew? Haha.
Hahahaha!!! I’m a cheap date….a back massage and a case of top shelf Cider and I’m all yours!!!
Okay man, that is it, thanks again! If you have anything to add, feel free to do so!
Just wanna say thanks to American Oi for taking the time and talking with us and anybody that has stuck around and still pays attention to Doomhammer, we are truly greatful…Doomhammer 2106!