Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions ahead of ‘Nonetheless’ dropping! How’s everything leading up to the launch?
Anytime! Things are moving along very nicely… we’re super excited for everyone to hear the album in two weeks!
First of all, gotta ask: How did the Ismert brothers come to decide to drop everything a form a band, and what lead to the musical direction you chose to take?
We grew up in a very musical household/family; our dad & uncles are all musicians and jam together often. Early on, we just wanted to be like them! We just picked up instruments and sort of emulated what they were doing when we were kids. As for us going down the ‘metal’ path… we just fell in love with heavy music immediately. We were obsessed with first Metallica, then all the other 80’s & 90’s thrash bands, and more recently bands like Meshuggah, Mastodon, Gojira, Tool, and Opeth.
Listening to ‘Nonetheless’, it’s pretty clear Meshuggah is one of the band’s influences, but there’s a good deal of other styles splattered about that make me wonder who some of the other bands or musicians were that helped drive Hammerhedd’s creativity this time around?
So many! In terms of metal bands, our main influences on this album were Tool, Meshuggah, Gojira, Mastodon, Opeth, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, and Sepultura. Some of our non-metal influences were Pink Floyd, Rush, Led Zeppelin, The Police, Grateful Dead, Wilco, Phish, The Band, Primus, & John Mayer Trio.
Comparing the two albums, ‘Nonetheless’ sounds more refined with a heavier step toward djent and experimenting a bit with it. Was it a conscious decision to deter from the more angsty performances of ‘Grand Currents’?
Totally agree with that characterization… we definitely took the technical aspect of our songs a bit further on this one. I wouldn’t say it was a totally conscious decision to do so, this was just the path that felt most natural for us. We don’t honestly listen to any ‘djent’ unless you count Meshuggah (the OG’s), but we do respect the craft of a ton of those bands.
How about lyrically? Are there any new themes running through ‘Nonetheless’ that three of you maybe wouldn’t tackled early on as a band?
We did write about some new themes on Nonetheless, but they generally follow the same trend as the lyrics on Grand Currents. We write lyrics when the rest of the instruments are already tracked, so we just like to write what comes to mind as we listen back to the songs.
Since Hammerhedd is composed of three brothers, I gotta ask what the writing process was like for ‘Nonethless’? Did anyone try anything different?
We write by jamming for a few hours per night and picking out the best ideas as we go. After about 8 months of doing this, we usually emerge with 8-9 songs that we consider ‘finished’ enough to take into the studio. In terms of us trying things differently this time around, we did try to incorporate more sounds; keys, synths, vocal effects, etc.
How about in the studio? Did the recording process go well for you three, and any interesting stories or things of note that transpired during it?
The studio was awesome!! Getting to go to a studio for a week is like going to heaven for us. We tracked most of the album live as a trio in one room to capture the most organic sound we could. We wanted it to sound like 3 guys jamming in a garage!
‘Nonetheless’ still has plenty of progressive and experimental moments on it like that jazz/blues segment during “The Richest Man in Town”. Do you prefer the more eccentric songs like that on stage, or are the less sporadic tracks your cup of tea on stage?
We do prefer to play the ‘weirder’ songs on stage, but at this point in our career, we don’t get the amount of stage time necessary to do so (and rightfully so… we’ll get there one day)! We generally play for 30 minutes when opening for bigger bands, so an 8 minute ‘slow-build’ song really throws a wrench in things. When we get 30 or 40 minutes, there’s no slow shit. 100% aggression 100% of the time, baby.
Speaking of on stage, when and where can fans or newcomers catch Hammerhedd in the days ahead?
We have 2 shows on the books for 2023 so far… we play the 2 Minutes to Tulsa Metal Festival on April 1st, and we play Welcome to Rockville on May 20th. TONS more shows to be announced very soon…
Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
We just want to say thank you for the interview!! We really appreciate you listening to the album and taking the time to do this with us.
No problem! It was a pleasure! And thanks again for taking the time to get back to me, and I wish you three all the best with the release of ‘Nonetheless’! Take care and go kick some ass!
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