Hammerbox rides the second wave of the Seattle rock explosion with Numb



By Steve Newton

The moment I got my hands on the the new Hammerbox release, Numb, I became an instant fan. Later on, I would actually play the music—a brash blend of ’90s alternative guitar-rock and frenzied ’70s punk—and become even more of a devotee, but at first it was just the list of songs that won me over. Any band with a tune called “Attack of the Slime Creatures” gets a thumbs-up from this B-movie buff.

“Our guitarist made that one up,” says vocalist Carrie Akre, chuckling over the wires from Pittsburgh. “For a while, our hardest task has been to write names of songs, or the name of an album, and Harris [Thurmond] got tired of us being too serious about it. So he made up this title, which to me actually makes a lot of sense in terms of what the song’s about. The song has a lot to do with racism in all forms, and being placed in the situation of the person who’s hated. So it’s like, ‘All right! Way to go, Harris!’ ”

When Hammerbox plays Graceland on Monday (April 19), it will be opening for New York’s King Missile, another band with a penchant for memorable song titles. If the two bands got together, they could write some really scary songs, maybe even “Attack of the Slime Creatures with the Detachable Penises”.

“I like King Missile a lot,” says Akre, “and I was surprised that a lot of their songs are not just the talking ones, like in ‘Detachable Penis’ and ‘Jesus Is Way Cool’. They do a lot of songs that are rocked up, with extended parts, where there’s actual singing.”

Hammerbox mixed Numb at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Sound and had the honour of sharing that facility with Boston’s mighty Aerosmith, which was recording Get a Grip, its soon-to-be-released CD.

“That was very inspiring,” says Akre, “but I actually only saw them a few times, and it was the classic, ‘Oh my God, they’re short!’ kinda syndrome.

“But James [Atkins], our bass player, is a serious fan, and I think he was too scared to even come out in the room if they were around.”

Hammerbox came together in Seattle a little more than three years ago, and from day one it has been touted by the alternative press as a band to watch. Now signed with A&M, it’s poised to cash in on what is being called the “second wave” of the Pacific Northwest music explosion.

“There’s a lot of bands that are playing in Seattle that aren’t connected with Mudhoney and Nirvana,” says Akre, “and that to me is the second wave. And I’m really hoping they get the same chance to get out there and put their records out, because there’s some great bands—like Treepeople, Seven Year Bitch, the Gits, Alcohol Funnycar. There’s a lot of other music, and I think it’s just as powerful in its own right.”

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