Stuff You Might’ve Missed / AmRep Revisited – Hammerhead

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With power and intensity to spare, post-punk hard rock trio Hammerhead could as easily have been called “Sledgehammer” (even if a heavy metal outfit from England hadn’t beat them to it). – All Music Guide

Even today, it’s hard to find a band that that had more impact on the Fargo’s punk and indie rock scene. And other than their label mates, Cows, you’d probably have a hard time finding a band that’s more representative of the Amphetamine Reptile aesthetic. Sure, godheadSilo was a Fargo band that seemed to receive a little more attention. And other bands on the Amphetamine Reptile record label, like Helmet, went on to a major-label deals and some degree of MTV success. But Hammerhead was most consistent. They were more intense. They always delivered. And they seemed always to be on the road. They also rebuffed the major label offers. – Phil Hunt / High Plains Reader

Story of Minneapolis, MN based trio Hammerhead is tied to a whole number of bands out of Fargo, North Dakota – December’s Children, Floored, Ditty Wah Ditty (which included Mike Kunka from Godheadsilo) and Buttchuck. None of them ever produced any official releases,  but the core of all bands consisted of Paul Erickson, Paul Sanders and Jeff Mooridian.

All three of whom moved from Fargo, ND to Minneapolis, MN in the late 80s and after taking into consideration a whole number of musical and non-musical sources (Stooges, MC5, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, Travis Bickle from “Taxi Driver”) started recording singles/albums for Amphetamine Reptile Records.

Their first full-length was 1992 “Ethereal Killer” (preceded by 1991 U.V./Peep 7″, with an artwork by Chris Mars from Replacements) , which (as title suggests) was all about homicidal rage/anger and was chock full of insanely fast hardcore tunes. Not unlike Husker Du (to whom they paid tribute on “Du Huskers” compilation with a cover of “Something I Learned Today”), in the beginning they were all about speed and intensity, while their later albums introduced more focused songwriting.

1993 “Evil Twin” EP collected 4 tracks from 7″ single of the same name, 2 tracks from debut U.V. / Peep 7″ picture disk and re-recorded version of Load King. 1994 full-length “Into The Vortex”, although less focused on violence/hatred, than its predecessor, still sounded as vicious as ever, with an instrumental “Galaxy 66” thrown in for a good measure.

Sanders left the group in 1995 and although successful replacement was replacement was never found, they still managed to release “Duh, The Big City” in 1996, which also became their swansong.  Taking a page from the likes of Chrome, “Duh…” proved to be more experimental than their previous records. Craig Klaus from Australian band King Snake Roost took the place of departed Paul Sanders.

Eventually, however, Paul Erickson and Jeff Mooridian simply abandoned the old name and rechristened themselves Vaz. They been recording as a duo since the late 90s and are still active today, while both of Paul Sanders post-Hammerhead bands (More Ram, Fly Republic) proved to be short-lived – More Ram produced one 7-inch for Meat Records, while Fly Republic never had any official releases.

Update – In 2010, the original line-up played few reunion shows – one was at Death By Audio in Brooklyn, NY and the other one was AmRep 25th Anniversary in Minneapolis. Sanders also played with Heroine Sheiks on their 2008 album “Journey To The Edge Of The Knife”.

Band Members

Jeff Mooridian (Vaz)

Paul Erickson (Vaz)

Paul Sanders (Heroine Sheiks)

Fun Facts

– All band members used nicknames – Jeff Mooridian was Sauce/Isolation DH-9, Paul Erickson was Apollo Liftoff and Paul Sanders was Interloper/Stingray

– Both Floored and Hammerhead are discussed in Chuck Klosterman’s book “Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade Of Curious People And Dangerous Ideas”

– Kat Bjelland (Babes In Toyland) was featured on the song “Camaro” from Porn 1 split with Halo Of Kitten)

– Derek Hess created posters for the band

Discography:

U.V. / Peep 7″ (Amphetamine Reptile, 1991)

Ethereal Killer LP/CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1992)

Load King 7″ (Amphetamine Reptile, 1992)

Evil Twin 7″/ 10″ / CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1993)

Moby Dick / Bereft Rescue Mission No. 43 (split with godHeadSilo) 7″ (OXO Records, 1993)

Duh, The Big City 7″ (Amphetamine Reptile, 1994)

Into The Vortex LP/CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1994)

Porn 1 7″ (split with Halo Of Kitten) (Amphetamine Reptile, 1995)  – includes “Camaro” by Hammerhead and “I Hate Porn” by HoK

Duh, The Big City (Amphetamine Reptile, 1996 / Outside Media, 1996)

Earth I Won’t Miss 7″ (tour only) (1996)

Selected Compilation Tracks:

“Gremlin Stomp” on Dope, Guns And F—ing In The Streets Volumes 4-7 (Amphetamine Reptile, 1991)

“Louse” on Mesomorph Enduros (Big Cat UK, 1992)

“Tuffskins” on 1993 Sampler (Amphetamine Reptile, 1993)

“Moby Dick” on Peel Out In The States, Programs 13 & 14 (In-Press, 1993)

“Something I Learned Today” on Du Huskers: Twin Cities Replays Zen Arcade (Synapse Recordings, 1993)

“Double Negative” on Dope, Guns And Destroying Your Video Deck #3 (Amphetamine Reptile, 1994) – also appears on AmRep DVD box set

“Cleaning Woman” on Jabberjaw Compilation – Good To The Last Drop (Mammoth Records, 1994)

“Swallow” on AmRep Motors 1995 Models (Amphetamine Reptile Europe, 1995)

“Swallow” on Stuck On Am: Off The Record In Minneapolis (Restless Group, 1996)

“Camaro” on Screwed Soundtrack (Amphetamine Reptile, 1996) – collects all the volumes of “Porn” series +  rare tracks from Black Light Rainbow and Gear Jammer.

“Mune” on Love God Soundtrack (Koch / Velvet, 2000)

“Blow By” on City Pages, Picked 2 Click (Copycats Media, 2005)

Covers:

“Something I Learned Today” on Du Huskers (Synapse Recordings, 1993) – MN bands covering Du’s “Zen Arcade” in its entirety. Other bands include Janitor Joe, Vertigo, Arcwelder, Walt Mink, Zuzu’s Petals, Flour, TVBC and others.

Further Info: Fargo Family Tree | Grunnenrocks | Last.fm | MySpace | Scaruffi | High Plains ReaderTrouser Press


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