Creator Chats: Ramonda Hammer + Hellrazor
Welcome to Creator Chats - a conversation among two groups, bands or people in the music industry. Today we welcome Mike of Hellrazor and Devin of Ramonda Hammer
RH: Mike! Really digging the new single “Landscaper”! As I listen, I imagine like a giant punk rock toddler going around with a weed wacker destroying people’s plants haha. What do the title and lyrics mean to you as the songwriter?
HR: For some reason, I've always liked the sound of any lyrics, song titles, band names, etc that relate to lawns or yards or garden tools. Hum has a song called "Shovel." That's a great song title. When I used to mow lawns, I remember my headspace would start to feel meditative after concentrating for too long. So it's possible we had that in mind while naming “Landscaper.” It was influenced by a summer job I had a long time ago weed wacking and picking up trash. It paid $6 an hour and I got poison ivy.
RH: I love the production on the track, can you tell me about who produced and mixed it?
HR: That's our good friend Mike Thomas. He plays in Maneka and Fern Mayo, he used to tour with Empress Of, and he was in Grass Is Green who are one of my favorite 2010s bands. "Landscaper" is probably the most produced-sounding Hellrazor recording so far. It was already a strange song to begin with, and Mike's suggestions added some extra flavor.
RH: I haven’t seen Hellrazor live since a couple years ago when you were in Los Angeles! Are you planning to tour soon?
HR: I didn't realize you were at that show! We have no plans for longer tours until after we get our schedules sorted. Probably after the next record is out.
RH: If you could make a Hellrazor video game, what would be the concept?
HR: We could take this question in a few different directions:
A few years ago, the Hellrazor game would have been a rip-off of Tony Hawk: Pro Skater. It was Hellrazor's dream to play some shows at a skate part or have one of our songs in a skating video game (although our aspirations to play at a wrestling event have since overtaken the 1st place "dream gig").
Sad Satan comes to mind, which is a game I've never played, but it influenced one of our songs from a few years ago.
Actually, the Hellrazor game would probably be an RPG similar in scope to Earthbound, except the gameplay of the simple and cute parts would feel even more simplified. And the Satanic and complicated parts would look even more horrifying. I'm actually not sure if that's correct either.
HR: Hi Devin! The new Ramonda Hammer songs sound huge and cinematic to me. Many of them remind me of a segment of my old radio show (a '90s-themed show) when my friends and I would feature a different soundtrack each week. A few that come to mind are The Craft, Cruel Intentions, Nowhere, Romeo + Juliet. I believe all of these are high school or teen movies. This might be a coincidence, but I'm not sure. Any thoughts?
RH: Well first off, THANK YOU, and also your radio show sounds like it was sick af! I would have totally listened to that. I love those movies you mentioned! Another fave is 10 Things I Hate About You, which we actually got to open for a screening of once and it was so rad. I felt like we were Letters To Cleo, just saying. So ya, to answer your question I really do love songs that create the very palpable moods that one would feel from watching those types of movies, so I think I just gravitate towards writing like that. Full of angst and emotion. It’s what I grew up on. Also, our bass player Andy went to film school and works in that field, he thinks pretty cinematically as well.
HR: I'm noticing now the song I'm hearing is titled "A Dramatization." Does your songwriting pull influence from films?
RH: To piggyback off the previous question, I love a movies because I want to be transfixed by a good story and feel all the feelings. It certainly seeps into my writing. I write some lyrics alluding to certain parts of movies or TV shows I see, and that’s because it helps make a statement about real life imitating art and also art imitating real life. WHICH IS THE REAL REALITY? Specifically regarding “A Dramatization”, the lyrics in that song are pretty dramatic and bold in a way that definitely for me is supposed to be like an over the top explanation of my feelings, much like most cinema.
HR: I promise this is the last question related to movies: Do you have any favorite soundtracks or scores?
RH: Haha no worries, keep the movie questions coming! I really love the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides. The Air and Heart songs are so perfect for that film. Cruel Intentions is also one of my favorite soundtracks, glad you featured that on your radio show! Other faves include Singles, Garden State, and O Brother Where Art Thou?. I’m also a fan of any scores that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross do, like for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
HR: I'm hearing some warm and hazy textures in the production and guitar tones that remind me of Los Angeles. It's a city that's always moving, and there's a rich history of great bands. I was wondering if everyone in Ramonda Hammer is from LA, and if the band originated there. Also, do you think any elements from LA’s environment or musical landscape (past or present) inform the sound of this record?
RH: I think artists can’t help but be influenced, consciously or not, from their living environment. Los Angeles is the place where all the RH members met and have been living for a long time. It makes sense that our sound would have an “LA feel”, if you will. In a city with so many different music scenes, we’ve shared stages with all kinds of bands and I think we’re all influenced by each other. It’s really special to be a part of that, it feels like we have unlimited possibilities, and that our sound can only keep growing. I Never Wanted Company is definitely a little heavier/grittier than our previous stuff, and that comes from playing music the last couple years around bands in our scene like Slothrust, Goon, Spare Parts For Broken Hearts, Iress. I love that we can hear some unification in the overall energy from our music scene in LA!