You won't see Hammer And The Nails shoot some flashy, over the top video anytime soon - but you will find these guys spitting out a killer record every fuckin' time! With their latest - yet another self-titled, or untitled as you wish - (12") EP for Rebellion Records and the band's first Eurotrip around the corner, it was about time that I asked these guys a bunch of questions! Enjoy!
Hi guys, first of all thanks for taking the time to do this interview – I really appreciate it! How are things going at the moment?
Matt: Thanks for the interest. We’re doing alright. Gearing up for the Berlin gig and what have you. Everybody is doing seventy-five different things right now so we’re looking forward to practicing and tightening the screws on the set.
Greg: Things are going well. Lots of practice for Berlin, prepping for fishing season, etc. etc.
Let’s start off with the basics for them readers that have been living under a rock for the past decade – please introduce yourself and give them a brief bio on how the band got together etc...
Matt: Brian- lead vocals
Joe- guitar and backing vocals
Lance- guitar and sour noodling
Greg “the Polish Hammer”- bass and backing vocals
Matt- drums and backing vocals.
In 2001 Lance, Brian and Matt decided we were going to put together an Oi! band with heavy English, Japanese, French, and select American influences. I think it was originally Lance and Brian on guitars and Matt on bass, and we were in need of a drummer and a singer. It was probably late 2001 when we first got together to write songs.
At the time, almost American Oi! or street punk band was doing the hundred miles an hour Chaos UK or badly-played hardcore type thing and yelling “Oi!” occasionally. We wanted to do a more plodding, crushing sound instead of the Speedy Gonzales punk most bands were offering at the time, and we also went out of our way to write lyrics with meaning. The whole ‘avin’ a larf and ‘avin’ a say/bovver/birds/beers/fitba/working class/mates/pubs thing was pretty much a hundred times played out by that time and we wanted to write some more thought-out lyrics that were still from a street-level perspective, but not some poser “Americans singing about English things” crap
Early lineup-wise, to make a long story short, we tried out a few friends while in the primordial, jamming stages, and finally after much red tape and contractual bickering we acquired old Sledgehammer-hand Greg from garage rock legends the Tampoffs on bass. Sporadic practices followed which usually ended up with us getting blackout drunk and forgetting everything, and re-learning the songs a month or two later. We basically didn’t do much at all for about six years, writing about five or six songs in the process. Yeah, pretty ridiculous.
We decided in early 2008 that the only way to get our shit together was to plan on playing a gig. We played our first gig that October with Ultimo Asalto, Glory Boys, and Tommy and the Terrors. The lineup was Brian on guitar and lead vocals, Lance on guitar, Greg on bass and vocals, and Matt on drums and vocals. That lineup eventually released the Set To Ruin demo and the 12” maxi single on Rock’n’Roll Disgrace Records.
Fast-forward to 2010 for the Play It Loud II fest, when Brian had an epiphany. After seeing our buddies the Lovely Lads do a reunion of sorts, Brian asked longtime friend Joe if he’d be interested playing with us— which was a great idea, as it gave Brian the freedom to pull David Lee Roth type stunts onstage, not having that albatross of a guitar hindering him, and it gave Joe an excuse to hang out with a bunch of old losers every week. Win/win.
I actually meant to send this interview sooner, but after I read the brilliant interview my buddy Viktor did for Keyböard Warriör I, well… I just gave up, haha. The interview was completely out of the box, just like your music and lyrics – both everything but your standard, trendy Oi! shit. What bands and styles influence(d) Hammer And The Nails and how would you say that your sound evolved in the past 8 or 9 years?
Matt: Yeah, that was a pretty good one! Damn, we’re clever… Well as stated above, we were influenced by English, French, and Japanese bands. So the direct influences were Straw Dogs(UK), Bull the Buffalos(JP), and Komintern Sect(FR). Also most of the Hammer Records bands, most of those SSS/Werewolf bands, other French stuff like Camera Silens and Brutal Combat, and some of the American bands from the ‘80s Philly and NY scenes.
As far as evolving, I think we brought other influences to the table via just learning how to write our songs better, and having Joe join. Joe brought a heavier, more metallic Japanese sound to the group, and I think on the other end of the spectrum, we added a bit of more rocking NWOBHM sound, Thin Lizzy and ‘70s Glam… which were all bubbling under the surface anyways, though we weren’t going to go all “bovver rock” or whatever. You just learn how to home in on your influences a little better after a while. Our future does not include sharpie mullets or ill-fitting ballhugging jeans…
Obviously this was just a little bridge to ask about one of your new songs called “Controlled Rebellion”. Lyrically this song really takes a stand against everything that seems plastic and fake within the ‘Oi! scene’. What the fuck has happened over the years and if you care to answer, what are the bands you really can’t stand at the moment?
Matt: Oi! bands doing music videos, midlife crisis weekend warrior skinheads, the whole thing of this being some “culture”. It’s not a culture. You’re BORN into a culture. You CHOOSE to get into a SUBculture, or you go along with your friends when you’re a kid and end up a skinhead or punker or whatever. It seems like a lot of people who came around after the internet became mainstream and had access to every subculture under the sun all got into Oi! and started bands. People who, without the internet, would have never even KNOWN about Oi! and all that are the ones screaming it from the rooftops. That being said, there are some cool younger kids in the scene doing great bands…. but man, there is a plethora of shitty bands. Since when has Oi! been a platform for social justice warriors and pussies? Ugh, I could go on forever on this… but I won’t.
Greg: While some parts of the current Oi! crop are low-hanging fruit; this could apply to just about anything. Let’s not limit it to Oi!
Lance: Let’s not forget to leave out the bands who seem to solely exist to take selfies of themselves or the ones whose entire fanbase ignores the fact that they are generic garbage just because they are being “Anti PC” or the ones who are forgettable 3rd tier crap from the 90s but have been around long enough to somehow be considered “classic”.
Matt: Yeah most of the bands who are too extreme either way just come off as try-hards.
And what other, preferably newer, bands you guys reckon are doing something new and/or refreshing, instantly giving you hope for the future of this ‘scene’?
Matt: Well Boston has been a hotbed for a while. Battle Ruins, while very hyped, are a great band and I think have given new life to the scene in Boston. In other parts of our vast, glorious nation, bands like Legion 76, Fuerza Bruta, Thunder and Glory, Junto, etc., are holding it down. In Europe and the UK, some greats are Top Dog, Lion’s Law, the East End Badoes, the newly-revived Indecent Exposure, and a few others. To be honest, I listen to mostly older stuff and am embarrassed to say that there ain’t a lot of new bands I find myself spinning on the turntable.
Lance: Foreseen isn’t Oi but definitely belongs in list of great newer bands.
Matt: Yeah, definitely.
Not that you guys are that new, but nonetheless your new, upcoming 12” for Rebellion Records definitely does sound refreshing and exciting! Can you guys describe what your supporters can expect from this record?
Matt: Thanks. They can expect the same nonsense we usually put out: tough, dark, brooding tunes with semi-intelligent lyrics.
Greg: Sheer, unbridled Elegance. Yes, that’s a capital E.
I believe it’s also the first release with the least of time between the actual recording session and the (planned) release date. How is that?
Matt: It’s because Wouter is a champion and gets things done in a timely manner.
Speaking of recording sessions… from what I understand you guys have completely recorded every single record yourself for the most part – though with the help of a trained chimp at certain times. Did this happen by ‘accident’, or is there a greater thought behind this decision?
Matt: Yeah, that’s why they sound so shitty and uneven! Well actually, the 12” Maxi e.p. was recorded in a proper studio, and the songs from the split with Butcher Boys and the “Rome Is Burning” single were recorded by our friend Jared from Revilers(who actually uses Protools and proper gear) in the practice space. Other than that, we recorded the demo, “East Meets West”, the “Badge of Dishonor” e.p., and this new 12” ourselves in the practice space.
Basically, since we have the equipment and a little bit of know-how, we figured why not do it completely DIY from now on? Although I think he went a little overboard on “The Angry Silence”, Pat from Straw Dogs said something to the effect that “cult” bands should keep it somewhat lo-fi, as slick recordings take away from the rawness and urgency of street-level bands. I for one agree with that sentiment. We’re a band who plays together for the fun of it and recording the songs ourselves gives us the opportunity to make no compromises due to time or money constraints.
Greg: Matt is the Maestro with the recordings. It works out well since we are usually pressed for time. If we are doing it on our own, we don’t have the pressure of studio time ticking and we can record where we feel comfortable. Each one gets better, I think the latest is our best yet.
On the song “Hook, Line, And Sinker” I am hearing some sort of organ or keyboard (no clue, help me out guys! haha) and I love it! Is this an idea that already comes to life while practicing, or is this something that comes to life while recording?
Matt: Yeah that’s either Lance’s Korg synthesizer or he’s playing the hairy pipe organ. It’s fucking glorious either way.
Greg: I have a feeling Lance has these ideas long before a song is conceived. I am pretty sure he would put out a pure synth record if he knew how to play. The parts are layered after recording and thankfully with some sort of restraint, so they add to the song, not detract or distract.
As for the front cover, Andy (Fletcher, of Revilers, Burden and MFP) really outdid himself and with that touch of golden foil it will be eye-popping! Did you guys just let him do his thing, or were there certain influences you wanted to appear in the artwork?
Matt: Yeah that cover looks mean as hell. We had a very particular art direction that took Andy outside his comfort zone, but the end result is dynamite…. and I’m pretty sure Andy is proud of it, too. He should be anyways. The original idea was to have a very ‘80s-looking cover, with a very bold, recognizable style to it. Something that would stand out. I think Andy definitely achieved that.
Greg: I am psyched to see the cover in the flesh. Looks great from what I have seen. Andy does not disappoint. Ever.
For now the new EP will only be released as a 12”, is there any interest to unleash it on CD as well – or will the compact disc boys and girls have to wait for another compilation somewhere in the future?
Matt: Maybe a compilation. We’ll see!
In support of the new record there will also be the occasional live show, including some overseas gigs with the first one being next month in Berlin, Germany! Excited to play abroad with Hammer And The Nails for the very first time and be part of this sick line-up?
Matt: Yeah were really psyched for that weekend. Lots of friends from all over Europe and the States will be there, plus the Battle Ruins gig the next day will be the balls. Berlin’s a great city, and I’m sure the guys in our band won’t be disappointed.
Greg: Definitely excited to play in Berlin. Solid line ups both nights, beer, food, dudes.
For some of you it will be the first time in Europe I reckon (correct me if I’m wrong), are there some tourist activities planned as well? What do you guys expect from der Heimat?
Matt: Yeah it’ll be the first time Hammer plays in the Font of Western Civilization. I presume we’ll hit Checkpoint Charlie, the Ramones Museum, help hold up a bar here and there, the remnants of the Berlin Wall, etc.
Greg: First time in Berlin for me. Stoked for beer and food.
Lance: I'm hoping to find time to work on some electronic inspired tracks we can release on limited cassette as our own Berlin trilogy.
Will you bring along some fishing rods for the trip?
Matt: Yeah, I’m sure Greg, Lance, and Joe will bring their collapsible fishing rods! Brian and I will probably just put fruit gums in the meters.
Greg: Will absolutely bring my fishing gear. Would like to land a Wels Catfish if possible.
Lance: Definitely will be pre-gaming the Battle Ruins show attempting to catch some perch in the Spree if anyone else is interested.
Alright, I think that is it, thanks again for your time and I’ll see you guys next month! If there is anything you’d like to add to this interview, feel free to do so!
Matt: Mano, thanks for your interest in our band from way back, and best of luck with the website. Thanks to our supporters worldwide. You’re greatly appreciated.