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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hammer No More The Fingers To "Barack the Cradle"

Hammer No More The Fingers is a Chapel Hill - Durham band that has been appearing often in the Triangle recently, and they have been invited to headline a benefit for Barack Obama at Cat's Cradle this Saturday, September 6th. I spoke with HNMTF's Duncan Webster about the band.

DO: First let me say you have the best band name ever.

DW: Thank you. Sometimes I'd agree, and other times not really.

DO: Tell me some history of the band.

DW: We have all been playing together for a long time, went to middle school together. Joe Hall (guitar, vocals) and Jeff Stickley (drums) met in elementary
school. Joe and I started playing together, and then we went to college in different places. After moving back to Durham in late 2006, we decided to start the band and take it seriously. Our first show was January 1st, 2007. We're really good friends and come from similar musical backgrounds. Jeff plays bluegrass guitar as well.

DO: How did the Barack the Cradle show happen?

DW: We were asked by Shaw Hargett, and I was able to get some other friends on the bill--Tooth is from Durham, Caverns from DC, we are headlining.

DO: You have 1 CD out, right?

DW: We have a 7 song EP out and we finished recording our first full length album in Baltimore. We play in the DC area a whole lot, and a lot of bands we listened to growing up are from DC. We recorded with J. Robbins (Jaw Box) -- he's done a lot of albums recently.

DO: How do you write your music?

DW: All three of us are involved. I'll come up with a part or Joe will come up with a part and we'll take it to practice. All our songs have basically three parts to them, two parts me and one part Joe or vice versa, or all me and/or all Joe, I'll write a first part and Joe will write the chorus (not to give away our secret or anything). Some choruses or verses are parts we wrote in middle school and some the night before. Then we fit it together in practice. The sound I had in my head, Jeff might play something totally different. It's a fun process. All three of us are involved.

DO: You're playing a lot of gigs too. How's that going?

DW: It's going really well. We're trying to tour as much as we can. When wef first started we'd go to New York for three months in a row, and after the third time we realized it wasn't working. After that we decided to stay more regional. We had the illusion that if we got big in New York...

DO: You'd make it anywhere...

DW: Yeah, but it was not like that. We'd play for 5 people and lose a lot of money. Since then we've been playing all over North Carolina and in DC, Virginia, South Carolina, and Philly. We've been playing with Red Collar, a lot of touring with those guys, and have made a lot of friends with bands in DC, Charlotte, Wilmington, and so on. That's really helped us out.

DO: So crowds locally are getting bigger?

DW: Definitely. Once you catch a little buzz in the area stuff starts happening. You have to meet the right band to take you under their wing.

DO: Tell us about your label.

DW: We were on Power Team Records, and they did a really good job, but it's a husband and wife run label and they are focusing more attention on their day jobs now. I can't blame them at all. We're talking to people we would have never talked to before. We have gotten along better as a band since being on our own, have more artistic control. They did made us get our [act] together, like we had a CD release show a year ago and they really helped us promote the CD, got a puclicist, gave us a professional edge. We were lucky to have them.

DO: What are your influences?

DW: Personally, Pixies, They Might Be Giants, Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, a lot of 90's alternative bands, Burning Airlines, Jaw Box (a big influence), NOFX, and others. That's pretty much the music we grew up with, alternative rock. I don't think our music sounds like that really, though some say we do. Everyone compares us to 90's rock, which would make sense.. that's what we grew up on. I think it sounds more modern.

DO: Tell us about the new album.

DW: We just finished recording the first full length CD. The working title: "Looking For Bruce", comes from a song we did called "Nitro", about Nitro from American Gladiator. Nitro wrote and starred in a movie called "Looking For Bruce" and we've been trying to find the movie. We were hoping to get Nitro to come to our CD release show and MC it, but that's pretty far out there..

DO: Have you met Nitro?

DW: Never have. It's an idea.

Thanks for the interview Duncan. Duncan Webster is the bassist/vocalist/songwriter for Hammer No More The Fingers, appearing this Saturday at the Cradle. Showtime starts at 9 PM, and I'm told it's an all ages show benefitting the Obama campaign. See you there!

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