Hammers from Manchester UK plays since a few years now a very good dark metallic hardcore ("blackened" if you want) and they give us some more with a third record released in june and called Vardogr. Once again they offer quality music burning intensely with a dark flame. The songs are well crafted and the record has enough variety to keep up the attention of the listener, from blastbeating to d-beat to slower tempi. The production is crushing heavy the way it should.
here's an interview with the Hammers guys, read it below :
-to start with can you present the band?
Sacha - Hi there, I'm Sacha and I play the guitar in the band and do my best to scream. Nick plays drums and Daniel plays bass and also shouts.
-do you play or have played in other bands?
Sacha - I have been playing in bands for a long time as I'm fairly old! The bands I was in that anyone outside of Switzerland (I'm from there) will have heard are Product, Milan old school sxe hardcore and The Secret. I was also in a punk rock band called My Stupid Dream, a metalcore band called Glorification, and before that in a new-metal band called Haggard. My first proper band was called Belch and it was a lot of fun.
Nick - I've been in loads of bands, as a drummer I'm pretty much in demand so have been in at least 2 bands at once since I was 17. I'm currently in Well Wisher and WExHAPPENEDxNEXT and have just started a screamo band with some friends too. I used to be in Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!! Anxiety Attack, Hail Brethren and Calculon to name a few.
Daniel - I only play in Hammers currently, but previously I've been in a few pop punk bands with my good buddy Ruth (The Cost of Living, Get Serious) and a few more serious folk/emo collectives (North Cross, Carraway), I've also temped in a few other bands over the years.
-how did you get into this kind of music?
Sacha - I don't really know how to answer this question and that's because I don't know if I'm really into the kind of music we play! It sounds strange but I'm sure a lot of musicians get it. The bands that we could maybe be compared to that I like are Converge, Trap Them, Cursed... but I tend to listen to other styles or bands most of the time. I didn't start Hammers, so when I joined the style of the band was already more or less there. When I started writing music I just added my style to it. I think that Vardogr is the first time a Hammers record sounds like a completely formed one.
Nick - I started a metal band with some friends at school and we got a gig at this place called The Yorkshire House in Lancaster. We played with a bunch of local bands, one of which was called Lee Malvo and was dead fast thrashy hardcore and I was so into it! Got talking to them and they put on fast gigs at The Yorkshire House for £3 entry, so I got to see awesome bands from the local area and all over the world such as Perth Express, Fighting Shit, Beecher, Narcosis. I spent all my wages on records from the distros and then started a band with some local dudes into fast. It went from there.
Daniel - I honestly don't remember how I ended up listening to this kind of thing, it's been a natural journey. The first heavy music I can recall getting into and feeling as though I was part of something was straight edge hardcore, everything else seems to've stemmed from those mid-teen years. I'm into a lot of different things, so I find it easier not to think about any given genre and just to enjoy what I enjoy. Being able to travel and play with a real diverse selection of really great bands and people is my favourite thing about being in Hammers. It's not neccesarily that it's 'this kind of music', more that we're mostly all just this kind of people.
-tell us about the writing and recording of Vardogr? Can you also explain its name?
Nick - I've really enjoyed writing this record. We've argued a lot, got stressed over it, got excited over it and I think all 3 of us have ended up really happy with it. Also keeping that we'd started playing again a secret initially helped because we didn't do any gigs, we just practiced and focused on writing, which was great.
Sacha - Some of the songs were ones we were writing when we stopped, so we started from those, used a couple of riffs that we tried to fit into a few songs before and then just wrote brand new music. It was a really nice and natural process. I want someone to ask me about the references and influences to my riffs cause I tried to squeeze a lot of stuff I like into these songs. As it turns out a year wasn't enough time for us though, since the vinyl will be ready a week into the tour! We recorded in a few different sessions in a studio right next door to our practice room, so that was nice and relaxed.
Daniel - The records name came about when Sacha sent me links to an article on bilocation, and the concept grew from there. The word 'vardoger' is from Norse mythology and roughly interpreted means 'one who goes before'. For example, when you're thinking of someone and then the phone rings and it's that same person, that could be said to've been that person's spirit walker visiting you in thought as a precursor to the actual contact. In the same instance though, they could've only called you because in return when you thought of them your own spirit walker visited them and so on and so on.. There are a number of different interpretations of the concept and I hope that's come across with the record. I personally used the notion across a variety of subjects (even though I'm aware a lot of it comes over as quite similiar lyrically), but for me the record covers the mythology side of things, and then more intimate interpretations of loss, thinking of certain people, missing certain people and a sense of spiritual longing and connections. It's basically a record about ghosts, of some nature or another.
-what about the artwork of the record?
Sacha - The record will come in a laser-cut envelope sleeve with a 12 page booklet and a little something to make it interesting.. Each cover has been screenprinted by me, a total of 3500 individual prints! As soon as we get the records back from press, we'll be posting some pictures of the whole package. I think it looks very nice and it's been a long process, it would be great if people thought it was good too. I was always surprised by the nice words about our record covers and it's very rewarding to know our efforts are appreciated. Our designs, tshirts, record covers are just as personal as our music.
-what about the lyrics? Is the song called The Spectacle linked to the situationnist critique?
Daniel - In the past Sacha and I have shared the word writing task, however this time around I did all of the lyrics based on the concept I mentioned earlier. I write in a pretty vague manner, so really everything is open your own interpretation. If you interpreted that song as being linked to that, that I am more than happy for that to be the explanation. I know there are many songs that I hear and misinterpret the entire weight of, by twisting them to meet my own situational needs. The Spectacle was a title I'd had in store for a while and the lyrics were the last to be completed for the record. It generally turned out as a combined reflection on corporate conduct, with a few references to the poetic edda.
-how is the metal/punk scene in Manchester? Which bands would you recommend from the area?
Sacha - There are a lot of good bands at the moment, a lot of new bands. Our friends Pine Barrens are very good, there's Knife Crimes and Esoteric Youth as well... The scene is growing and we have a couple of new venues and quite a lot of shows.
Nick - I'm also really into Wode and NASDAQ and there's a new band called Heroin Diet who I've seen once and we're ace! As Sacha said, there's a lot of new venues popping up which are either really cheap or free to hire, there's people with PAs and sound guys willing to help out with gigs for little or no money and there's a big group of people putting on gigs at the moment. Music in Manchester is generally pretty exciting right now!
-you give your music for free on your bandcamp page, is it for promotional means or do you think that music should be free? Or that mp3’s should be free?
Sacha - I personally think music should be free. I have a lot of records and I always buy more, but what I pay for is a product, a record that has to get pressed and packaged, and that needs paying for. Music is different, especially in the internet age. When I was a kid I would tape music from friends CDs or even from the radio (I remember staying up late when I was 12 to record Guns'n'Roses' concert in Paris!) and that's how I would get to know new bands and new music. My cousin gave me tapes of AC/DC and Bon Jovi and that kickstarted my passion for music and rock music in particular. With the internet it's easier then ever to get hold of music and a lot of people will get into buying records, going to shows and support bands in general. The only argument against file sharing or downloading comes from record labels or greedy people. It's gonna be better in about 10 years when record labels won't exist anymore, CDs will be a novelty product and bands will be in complete control of what they do. I'm excited for it!
Nick - Completely agree with Sacha. Music should be shared. I've made a mix CDr with a bunch of current UK bands on which I'm giving away for free on this European tour to share the rad bands we have in the UK. All the bands I asked to be on it are 100% up for it....nobody wants any money for it, we just want it to be free and enjoyed by everyone!
-you told me you are currently on tour, tell us more about that tour?
Sacha - Tour starts tonight! We're opening for Tragedy in Bradford and then we start with a big drive down to Cornwall tomorrow. I'm writing this interview 4 hours before we leave. We're gonna be playing pretty much all over Europe and beyond, including countries we've not been before like Spain, France, Serbia... It's gonna be great, especially if we can leave the horrible Manchester weather behind.
Daniel - I booked the tour to be a mix of places and people we've visited before and places that we'd been asked to visit before and hadn't been able to. It covers a lot of ground in 4.5 weeks (about 6300 miles!), but we've just bought our own van (a lovely little Renault called Suzanne..) so we're confident and comfortable to be undertaking something so huge. I won't start to relax until a week or so into the tour, but that's just the kind of worrier that I am. I love to organise but it brings out my social anxieties whilst on the road.
-apart from touring do you plan something else for 2012? What will be the future for Hammers?
Sacha - One thing we want to do is this collaboration with Manatees that we've been talking about for a couple of years. If it works, you expect a 7 piece band of sheer heaviness! I would like to write a 7" when we come back from tour and see what we sound like after a month or playing every day.
Daniel - We'd like to tour everywhere, Nick especially wants to go to South America first. I'd really like to revisit Sweden and the rest of northern Scandinavia, and we've been on a permanent invite to Greece through our good friend Mike. It all comes down to time and money, it's a shame but it's the way it all works unfortunately. We're forced to tour less due to work commitments, but it means we can plan further ahead and really make the most of the available time we have. It'd be nice to revisit a lot of the collaborations and splits we had planned when we were going at breakneck speed, I'd like to be more prolific, but through genuine productivity rather than rushing ourselves.
-your turn to ask me a question and/or add something in conclusion?
Sacha - Do you have any lego or other 80s toys I could have? Especially Masters Of The Universe, G.I.Joe, Transformers... I'll trade you Hammers merch!
Nick - Do you want to start a band with me?
Sorry I didn't kept my legos or 80's toys... but I send a message to all my readers, if you got some, just contact Sacha!
Nick if you knew my poor musical skills you wouldn't want to start a band with me... or maybe some harsch noise improvised stuff?