Meet The Band: Hammerhedd

In the Meet The Band spotlight this week is Hammerhedd, a trio of brothers from Kansas City. Their latest release is Nonetheless. Vocalist/guitarist Henry Ismert introduces us to his band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Hammerhedd.
Henry Ismert: Hammerhedd formed in 2012 when we (Eli, Abe, and I) bought our first instruments. Since then, we’ve been jamming together almost every day. We started out playing live shows at friends’ events, then eventually started playing on street corners, then around local venues, and just recently we’ve been getting to go on the road!

Describe the songwriting process for Nonetheless.
Our songwriting process is super simple for every album; we just jam for a few hours each night to write new riffs/melodies/patterns, then we expand upon the ones that we all like. I’d estimate that each song usually takes around 3-4 months of writing and tweaking in the jam room before we’re ready to take it into the studio. On Nonetheless specifically, we took all the songs into the studio with no vocal patterns or melodies written yet, so those were all written and recorded at home in the following weeks.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The one that immediately sticks out is the memory of Eli trying to nail the last section of the song “Fruition.” It was around 10pm during our third day in the studio, and for some reason, he couldn’t nail the breakdown/outro part that starts at 7:04. After tons of yelling and futile rage, he finally said something to the effect of, “Turn off the click and we’ll try it one last time… if I can’t get it this time, we’re all going home.” Lo and behold, the following take was the one we ended up using on the album.

How has your sound evolved from Grand Currents?
It’s evolved in a lot of ways, but mainly we’re trying to write more concise, punchier songs. It’s been sort of a crutch for us in the past to just write long, riff-y songs that don’t have a specific point or focus. We’re trying to fix that going forward.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
This album covers a few different topics, but the main theme is the pursuit of perfection. We’re all perfectionists, especially when it comes to our music. “Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good” is a lesson we have to keep re-learning when it comes to songwriting and recording, so it just seemed natural to write lyrics about that.

What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
We aim to stay independent for the duration of our career. This is partly because we want to own our music catalog in the future, but more importantly, we want to have full autonomy as it pertains to all things Hammerhedd. We say no to a lot of things, and that becomes much harder when someone else is writing your checks.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Our main goal is to take it on the road for the first time in our career! We have some awesome things planned for this summer in that regard. We think that this album is one step closer to Hammerhedd’s full potential (which we’ll hopefully reach in 5-10 years), and we hope that people agree.

How was the “Pioneer To Be” video shoot?
Freezing. But other than that, awesome! We did it with Alex Napper of Nappermedia. He’s a local Kansas City filmmaker/editor that’s done our last 3-4 music videos. He pretty much knows exactly what we want by now. We love working with him and hope to continue to do so!

What has been your most memorable Hammerhedd live show?
The one that first comes to mind is our most recent local show opening for Knocked Loose in Lawrence, KS. It was probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to, but more importantly, it was the craziest crowd we’ve ever played to. They seemed to love our set. Other than that, all the shows we did last Fall with In Flames were amazing. We were incredibly lucky to be a part of that tour!

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We currently have two upcoming festivals on the books: 2 Minutes to Tulsa on April 1st, and Welcome to Rockville on May 20th. Look out for more dates later this summer.

What are some of your non musical interests and hobbies?
A few that come to mind: We all play all the pickup/rec sports we can (softball, basketball, football, golf, ping-pong, pickleball, etc.), we love the gym, we’re big standup comedy fans, and we spend tons of time with our family.

Are you Chiefs fans?
YESSIR!!! Huge Chiefs and Royals fans. We’ve been incredibly lucky in that regard over the past 10 years with the Royals’ success from 2011-2016 and now the Chiefs success. Super spoiled.

How is the metal scene in KC these days?
It’s good! We don’t get to play locally often anymore (so we don’t get to see/hang with other local bands much), but we hope to start playing at least 1-2 times per year in KC soon.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
A few heavy albums that have been in our rotation recently are Opeth’s Blackwater Park, Deftones’ Around the Fur, RATM’s Evil Empire, Strapping Young Lad’s City, Frederick Thordenall’s Special Defects’ Sol Niger Within, and Meshuggah’s Immutable.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you so much for the interview!

(interview published March 4, 2023)

Watch Hammerhedd – “Pioneer To Be” Video


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