Progressive heavy metal band Hammers Of Misfortune released their fantastic new album Dead Revolution earlier this year. We caught up with guitarist John Cobbett to hear all about the album and the band.
Who are some of the bands influences?
A list of influences? OK. The SWEET! Uli Jon Roth era Scorpions, Van Halen’s first 3 albums, Cliff Burton era Metallica, Bill Buford era Yes, Peter Gabriel era Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Gary Numan, David Bowie, Roxy Music, The Stranglers, The Fucking Champs, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. Lots of songs too.
How would you describe the music of Hammers Of Misfortune or would you prefer the listener to make up their own mind?
I’m definitely going to leave it up to the listener! People are always trying to pigeon-hole you, right? Why help them?
Your new album Dead Revolution is out now. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s about 45 minutes long. There are seven songs on it, and we worked very hard on it. For best results, it’s highly recommended that you silence all electronic devices, pour your favorite beverage, and listen to the album all the way through without distraction.
Is there a story behind the albums title?
It was the song title first. We thought it would make a good album title, so the song became the title track. All the revolutions, especially the ones you hear about in San Francisco, are dead.
What has inspired the lyrics on Dead Revolution?
Lots of different stuff. It’s hard to point to anything specific. Just what was going on around us. I was living in the Mission District of San Francisco, and we have since moved out of California. I guess you could say that these things are in play in the lyrics. I didn’t decide to leave San Francisco until after the songs were written, but some of the songs sound eerily prophetic.
Do your surroundings influence you when you write songs?
I’m not sure. I mostly write songs in my room, or at work sometimes I’ll come up with some lyrics. I guess it’s possible. Now that I’m here in my new home maybe we’ll find out.
How did the recording of the album go?
It was difficult at times, but that’s normal. We ran out of money, went over budget, so that was a problem. We had to rush to get it done. That’s one way to make sure your album isn’t too polished, ha ha!
Dead Revolution is an album that is both original and diverse. Is that something you wanted to come across with the album?
No. I just write songs. I write what I like. We don’t try to be original. We have our own style. The idea for this band was to make a band that didin’t exist, but should exist. You know what I mean? There was no band that sounded like Hammers, so I had to start one, right? I think this is the only good reason to start a band.
A song like The Velvet Inquisition has a glam/NWOBHM feel to it, what sort of music, if any, were you listening to when creating the album?
None, really. When it’s time to write songs the stereo gets turned off. It’s possible to write music without being influenced by anything, if you have your own style. Of course all the music you grew up on (like Rush 2112 when I was 10 years old, for example) will creep in sometimes, but you don’t sit there trying to find ways to sound like other bands, you know what I mean? You just try to write a good song, a cool riff or whatever.
And a song like Here Comes The Sky has a big progressive rock feel, was that genre still a big influence on the band and the album?
It’s not like we were trying to be progressive. We just wrote a big song, and there were many parts. Some we kept, others we threw out. What you hear is the final result. We rarely set out to sound like anything specific. Sometimes the creative process has unpredictable results.
When making the album, did everyone chip in with ideas to create the songs?
A little bit, maybe. I write most of the music at home. Everyone is so busy that we don’t get a lot of time together to jam out ideas. I end up having to make most of the decisions on my own. If anyone has an idea we’ll try it and see if it sounds good.
The folk song Days Of 49 finishes the album, it’s a great song, can you tell us a bit about it?
Glad you like it! It’s an old song, over 100 years old. We found it in a library book while researching songs from the California Gold rush of the 1840s & 50s. We did a bit of adapting and it came out pretty good, I think.
Is folk music a big influence on Hammers Of Misfortune?
I guess. A lot of folk music is focused on songwriting and storytelling, which is good stuff. We try to do some things like that too. Old music, early music is cool too.
The artwork for the album is amazing. Who was it that did that?
Robert Steven Connett. I found his work online and was really impressed. I contacted him and he allowed us to use 2 of his already-existing paintings for the front and back cover. We’re very happy with it!
Was it done specially for the album?
No. There’s no way we could afford to commission original work from an artist of his stature. I wish!
There has been a five year gap between Dead Revolution and its predecessor 17th Street. Was there any reason for the long time between the albums?
Yes, of course. Many reasons. We didn’t just decide to wait 5 years between albums for the fun of it, ha ha! There was a baby, there was a bad motorcycle accident, there was everyone else’s other bands’ tours and albums, people’s jobs, weddings etc. Considering all the madness that happened it’s a wonder we finished at all!
Do you feel the bands sound has changed drastically in that time?
Nah, I don’t think so. We recorded in a different studio this time, which has an effect on the production. Over all, I think it’s a logical continuation from our last album, with a heavier production.
Do you have a favourite song on the album yet?
Oh I don’t know, maybe The Precipice? The Velvet Inquisition? I like them all for different reasons.
Members of the band have had varying projects on the go aside from Hammers Of Misfortune from Vhol to Vastum to Ionophore. Do you bring in elerments of those band to Hammers Of Misfotune or do you keep them separate?
They are separate for sure. Each band is like it’s own different little world. If there’s any overlap I’m not aware of it.
With so many things on the go, how do you find the time to get everybody together?
It’s difficult, for sure. We can usually manage one day a week, at the most. It’s definitely not ideal.
Will you be hitting the road in support of the album?
No, I’m afraid not. Our son is still too young to go on tour. He’s only 2 years old. Maybe if we could afford a comfortable RV and a full time nanny, but of course we can’t!
How would you describe the Hammers Of Misfortune live experience?
Not much of a flamboyant show, just the songs played loud and in your face. This line-up is really good live. Very tight and clear sounding. The songs really take center stage.
What are your favourite songs to play live?
Motorcade, Trot Out The Dead, 17th Street and Precipice are all really fun. A Room and a Riddle is fun, too.
Have you any final words for all your fans out there?
Hopefully we’ll be able to get out to a few festivals! We are interested in any offers!
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