Leeches of Lore R.I.P. It Up
Hammond ventures to Old Mexico
It's the end of an era. Perhaps that's a little hyperbolic. But in the six years that Steve Hammond has called Burque home, he's made quite an impression.
In 2006, Hammond and his wife relocated from Lawrence, Kan., so she could pursue graduate work at UNM. After acclimating to the arid climate and Nuevo Mexicano culture, he formed Leeches of Lore with Andy Lutz and Noah Wolters. Hammond is the principal songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for the twang-and-thrash trio. Accurately capturing the band's sound with a single genre tag is difficult, because Leeches' music blends elements of stoner rock, prog rock, metal and country with some serious avant-garde tendencies.
Hammond's impending adventure to Jalisco, Mexico, impacts fans of Leeches of Lore, röck döt-loving thrash outfit Tenderizor, honky-tonk supergroup Knife City and Hammond's solo-collaboration project Retard Slave. Catch Leeches for the last time—for at least a couple of years—at Sister on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Alibi chatted by phone with Hammond in his Nob Hill home before he rushed off to Leeches of Lorchestra practice.
I heard your fundamentalist Christian parents burned your tape collection more than once.
Yeah, when I was in junior high. They gave up after a while. But they got me a guitar and amp when I was about 11. They've mellowed with age. They're all right, and they really like the country bands that I've been in. As far as the rock and metal stuff goes, they just don't really get into it. I think that they might not like the music but, at this point, they respect it.
What were your early musical influences?
I grew up in the middle of nowhere—in the country [in rural Kansas], on a farm—so there was a lot of country music around when I was a kid. When I first really got interested in music, it was the late '80s when I had friends who turned me on to a bunch of thrash metal and punk rock bands. After that, I got into weird alt.rock stuff, like Sonic Youth, that type of thing. I started playing guitar around 11 but didn't have a band until I was 17.
Did you study music formally or are you self-taught?
I'm definitely self-taught in terms of playing instruments. I did a lot of singing as kid in school and church. In high school, I did a lot of show choir—the musical equivalent of a track meet, where all the different schools come together. There would be quartets and band competitions. I was always in the show choir, and I'd do the solo ones. So I was singing, but that was definitely different.
Do you dig the Burque music scene?
I like how people are a little bit weird here. Fando is probably my favorite local band. Of course, I play with the Day brothers in a couple bands. I like Phantom Lake a lot and Raven Chacon's stuff. There's a ton of other bands I like, especially a lot of the weirder noise stuff. There's a lot of metal in town I can't really get into, just because I have weird taste. I like Roñoso a lot. And [Santa Fe-based] Drought. We just played with them, and they're great.
The final LOL show sounds pretty intense. The Leeches of Lorchestra?
We've got a nine-piece band at this point: me [guitar, vocals], Noah [organ, piano], and Andy [drums], along with two trumpet players [David Schripsema and Clark Neff], bass [Pat Day], an extra guitar player [David Hevener of Gnossurus], an extra drummer [Kris Kerby] and an accordionist [Dave Payne of The Saltine Ramblers]. We're going to be recording it for an album and might even shoot video. At our final show, we'll have the new record, Frenzy, Ecstasy, available on vinyl. So this show is also a vinyl release for that.
Is there any chance for folks to catch one last Knife City, Retard Slave or Tenderizor show before you leave?
Knife City is playing Il Vicino Brewery on Sept. 11. Me and Kerby are going to do one more Retard Slave show on Sept. 10 at the Launchpad, along with Contortionist and possibly some other bands. As for Tenderizor, we played our last show a couple weeks ago.
While you're in Mexico, will your projects be in limbo?
I'll mostly be working on solo stuff, but we might do some file-swapping with Leeches of Lore and Tenderizor. You definitely usually come out with something different than if you were just jamming together. So there's still a chance for new albums from both those bands while I'm gone.