Someone can probably do a better job explaining this than I can (and please do)... the band got their start in Moorhead, hooked up with Amphetamine Reptile Records somewhere along the way and then moved to Minneapolis, toured like mad, released a bunch of records and broke up. Paul Sanders started a band called moreRAM (which released a 7-inch on Meat Records) and Paul Erickson and Jeff Mooridian started up Vaz.
Testimony Andy Bahn
Okay, let me take a stab at it...
Hammerhead was an idea that was borne in the mind of Paul Erickson. But, first, I should give a little history. Bear with me.
For my part, it all began outside of Fargo at a party in Minneapolis in 1984. I was carrying a record of The Rollingstone's Out of our Heads. I put it on the record player and struck up a conversation with Steve Mann who was an admirer of the Stones also, but an even bigger fan of The Who. By the end of the night we had decided to go buy some guitars and form a band. I was 19 years old, Steve was 18 and had just graduated from High School.
Steve went up to Moorhead State University for his freshman year where he met Paul Erickson from Wolford North Dakota. Paul Erickson was a musician and knew how to play just about anything better than any of us. But, we were from Duh Big City and could introduce Paul to cool bands like The Replacements and Husker Du (for the lad from Wolford, puck rock consisted of The Cars and The Romantics). I kept working in Minneapolis at a Sinclair Gas Station. My guitar teacher was a book. Steve learned how to play from Paul Erickson. We met up the next summer and Steve had advanced to playing with five strings on his guitar under the tutelage of Paul Erickson's patented learn to play the guitar one string at a time method. I knew a few chords and scales, so we convinced a couple of high school guys to play bass and drums (Jeff Hoelscher and Rob Bernham) and started a band called The Mess. By the end of the summer we had made a recording on a cassette tape called "Skinny."
Steve went back to Moorhead and I enrolled at St. CLoud State University. Steve and Paul met Moorhead residents Paul Sanders and Jeff Mooridian and formed December's Children. The next summer Paul Erickson moved to Mpls and Steve Mann stayed in Fargo. Paul took Steve's place in The Mess's lineup and the first version of Floored was born. We played 7th Street Entry in August and a recording was made. I think I have a copy somewhere.
In the fall, Paul Erickson went back back to Moorhead and I went to St. Cloud. More December's Children (Paul Sanders goes to Madison and Mark Schroeder fills in on Bass while he's away) and a year goes by. I leave St CLoud in the spring of 1988 and move to Moorhead to join my mates for Rock-n-roll. Diddy Wah Diddy (Ditty Wah Ditty) is formed with Paul Erickson on Drums, Paul Sanders on bass, and Steve and I on guitar(Jeff Mooridian moves somewhere and is gone for a time from Fargo -so December's Children days come to an end). We play all summer and as young people are want to do, dramatics happen and somehow the band disintegrates in the fall and Steve Mann moves to Mpls leaving Paul, Paul and I to form the next version of Floored as a three-piece, although we originally called ourselves "Geeks." We are just getting going when winter arrives and Paul Sanders and I decide to forgo the winter in Fargo and move to Utah and California, respectively. We come back in the spring and Floored picks up some steam until we actually start sounding like a band - somewhere between MC5, Dinosaur Jr, and The Stooges. Many recordings are made and several shows happen that only a handful of people ever witnessed. We develop many songs and dream of making it, but we never manage to gain an audience or win a bit of luck.
Meanwhile, Paul E spends his free time plunking around on the bass and smoking pot while talking with his good friend Joel Longtine aka Moleman. Mostly, they listen to music all day long, but over many bowls the idea of Hammerhead is borne among heavy bass licks and the story of the Gremlin Brother twins - Roky and Roly (Get it? Rock and Roll...). Paul is Roky and I am his twin brother Roly. Jeff Mooridian is Renny and Paul Sanders is Rummy who only gets to watch his older brothers while trying to stay out of their way. Roky, Roly and Renny are rocking in the basement and suddenly out the dirt floor emerges Moleman. Joel was a budding cartoonist and the story has a comic book plot and was talked about more than actually drawn or written. There are plans of long haired wigs and platfrom shoes (Floored was banned from Ralph's and Kirby's for long periods of time because we were too loud - thus incognito) with guitar straps shortened and bell bottom slacks. Anyway, the culmination was a show at 7th street entry on Tuesday new band night in the spring of 1990 (Paul Erickson had a tape of this show, but don't know if he still has it). December's Children opened, followed by Diddy-Wah-Diddy, and then Hammerhead's first show. Floored closed out the night. Hammerhead was the highlight of the evening (Moleman was on fire and did the highest flying scissor kick I'd ever seen in my life - even if he did end up landing flat on his ass, it was mega-cool), although all bands put on great shows even with a shortened Floored set due to personality breakdowns from a long, drunk and drug filled evening.
Let me see..., more dramatics, and Floored is still going through the summer of 1990 in Fargo. Diddy-Wah-Diddy reforms and disbands over more dramatics (there were punches thrown in there somewhere, but nobody hurt much - other than ego and pride). Paul E is forced to move out of his small home on the North West edge of Moorhead in the fall which had been established as the practice place and late night party house. I suddenly get a sense of the futility of it all and tell Paul E and Paul S, that my time in the band is coming to a close. "Wait," they tell me, "we have a gig at the Uptown in Minneapolis opening for a band called 'The Cows!'" "Sorry," I reply, "I'm out of here." Well, the rest is history. Paul, Jeff and Paul put together the new Hammerhead in short time with Paul S taking my place on guitar and without Moleman on vocals. There are a few shows bringing back Moleman, but the bright lights are not for him. I observe from afar as my old friends enjoy success I once craved.
It was all good times and I think we all made some great music that not many people ever had a chance to hear - with the exception of the last incarnation of Hammerhead. Oh well, Vaz is still going strong and Paul S is playing with some guys in Mpls at the moment (Herione Sheiks - I believe). Joel Longtine lives in Duluth and plays percussion for an experimental band called Idee Fixe. Steve Mann lives in Northern Minnesota and is often mistaken for Sasquatch due to his penchant for running naked in the woods. He is still making recordings last I heard. I strum my guitar in the basement a couple times a month for my six year old son and try and convince him I was once a rock-n-roll star. Who was I kidding?
ps. I dream of a 7th street entry (First Avenue-if there ever is enough interest?) 20 year reunion show in the spring of 2010, but have no idea how to get the blokes together again. December's Children, Diddy-wah-Diddy, Hammerhead (Roky, Rolly, Renny and Moleman) and Floored, with a special appearance of Hammerhead (Paul, Paul and Jeff) to end the night with. Do you think I can pull it off? Any help out there? Suggestions? Encouragement? Anything?
A.B. tells it pretty much right on. I have a couple of nuggets that might be of interest. Hammerhead was named not after a shark or a carpenter's tool but after a term bartenders used for dishwashers at a hotel I worked at. e.g. "Hey Hammerhead! hurry up and wash those wine glasses." I was a dishwasher and not a bartender.
Hammerhead was heavily influenced by the group Steel Pole Bathtub. I remember listening to their first album over and over with Paul E. He usually liked classic stuff like the Stooges but he was heavily influenced by the Tub. If you like Hammerhead and have never heard SPBT- check them out. "Tulip is a great album."
A.B. is correct about the "Gremlin Brother" story- Roky, Roly, Renny, and Rummy all had the last name of Gremlin. This led to the great instrumental track "Gremlin Stomp". Paul E. told me the rythmn for this song was inspired by watching my drunken gate during a long walk home from a rock and roll party. Although its true I never got around to writing the "Gremlin Brothers" story I did create a number of comic stories from the Lyrics I wrote for hammerhead. "Anvil Mcgillus", "Locomotive to Moosejaw," and "A Fitting End to a Ridiculous Life" are some that I remember. They appeared in "Snipehunt" magazine based out of Portland, OR. None of my lyrics appeared on the albums, mainly because I rarely wrote them down. I usually had a verse I could repeat over and over and a story line I could ad lib from. The song "moleboy" may have some of the original lyrics...too long ago, can't remember.
During the time Hammerhead was forming Paul E. approached me about writing lyrics and perhaps being the singer because "no one in the band wanted to sing" I suggested that they play as an instrumental band because lead singers are usually dead weight anyway. I still believe bands are usually successful despite their lead singers and not because of them. (this only applies to singers who don't play another instrument). A few weeks after Paul E. approached me my roomate walked in on me rocking out to THE STOOGES "sick of you". I think I was doing a knee slide on the coffee table when he walked in. Paul E.and guitarist Andy B. got wind of this and approached me again believing I had some latent desire to be a rock and roll singer. I told them IGGY was an entirely different matter. Anyway, they talked me into being the next Iggy Pop and I gave it a try and failed good and proper.
Hammerhead was a great band. I saw plenty of shows throughout the years and they were getting better and better. They are all up to some cool stuff these days but that combination of two pauls and Jeff M. Rocked as hard as any one has. It was fun to be there for some of it.
- There was a show in the early 90s at the Elk's Lodge in Fargo that was just insane. The place was packed and the band threw down like there was no tomorrow. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought that Hammerhead was involved with the wrecking-ball that took down the Elk's Lodge. -ryan
- Yes - Orange 17 opened that show and godheadsilo played right before Hammerhead. That show was pretty much the most fun I've ever had at a show. -joe
Hammerhead performs at the CBGB on July 23rd 1993, video here
Derek Hess did some awesome posters for the band in 1994 and 1995.
- http://www.derekhess.com/images/gallery/1996/hammerhead.jpg -doug
- "Peep" 7-inch, Amphetamine Reptile
- "Load King" Tour-only 7-inch, Amphetamine Reptile
- "Evil Twin" Tour-only 7-inch, Amphetamine Reptile
- "Earth I Won't Miss" Tour-only 7-inch, Amphetamine Reptile
- Split 7-inch with godheadSilo, Oxo Records
- Split 7-inch with Halo of Kittens, Amphetamine Reptile Records
- "Ethereal Killer" Amphetamine Reptile
- "Evil Twin" EP Amphetamine Reptile
- "Into The Vortex" Amphetamine Reptile
- "Duh, The Big City" Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "Dragon Tracks 4" MSU Music Production Class compilation
- V/A "DÃ¼ HÃ¼skers: The Twin Cities Replay Zen Arcade" Synapse Records
- V/A "Jabberjaw No. 1" 7-inch, Mammoth Records
- V/A "Jabberjaw No. 5 Good To The Last Drop" Mammoth
- V/A "Amrep Equipped" Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "Dope, Guns 'n' F*cking In The Streets volume 6" 7-inch Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "Dope, Guns 'n' F*cking In The Streets volume 4-7" Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "Amphetamine Records Sampler 1993" Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "AmRep Motors 1995 Models Sampler" Amphetamine Reptile
- V/A "Screwed-The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" Amphetamine Reptile