photo and design by Kyle Bruggeman
[Editor's note: This feature previews Time Hammer's record release show this Saturday starting at 9 p.m. at The Zoo Bar. Rock Paper Sisters will play their first show to open; Dirty Talker and Razors will complete the bill. It will be a 21+ concert with a $5 cover.]
by Michael Todd
Even their scotch has flakes of gold. The members of Time Hammer, well-groomed men of Lincoln, Neb., each sit cross-legged, pausing occasionally to tap the ashtray with their cigarettes in holders. Bassist Stewart Hehn adjusts his tie before giving his scholarly introduction:
Then with the close of drummer/lead singer Travis Beck's front door, the characters and scenery change. A poster of Isaac Hayes as Black Moses is watching over as sonic remnants of the opening story — Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain — keep spinning in the background. This is Time Hammer unadulterated, but it's only one version, and never the versions shall meet. Joe Younglove, also a drummer/lead singer, explains just what would happen if he played his onstage part in public. Hehn helps clarify:
Absent from the interview is DJ Conner Goertzen, also known for his solo project foam_FORM. His unseen role is somewhat fitting as those at The Zoo Bar this Saturday might not see him obscured behind the stage. If this year's Lincoln Exposed is any indication, the setup for Time Hammer's album release show might have to resort to placing Goertzen's scratching in the back.
As for the rest of the band, Hehn takes the opportunity to talk at length about his love for The Flaming Lips or the heavy, gangster-rap-worthy feeling of Beck's voice. Sure, Hehn will get a namedrop in the song "The Falls," and the crowd will know, "He ain't a bowl of soup." His fuzz bass, like a monster in a Sendak book, is big and bold but still somewhat of a background character. Beck and Younglove will percussively attract most of the attention.
It helps, too, to be wielding the mic in one hand and a clock with its life ticking down in the other. The tradition goes like this: Band plays interlude or pauses, clock is handed to a crowdmember, hammer hits the clock, clock breaks, band finishes song.
Beck says it's deep, and Younglove agrees, even if they're both being facetious. It will be the weekend after all, so why not try to stop the advance of time? Plus, just as Beck rapped, "Be careful, be careful," in time with the clock hammering at Lincoln Exposed, safety is ensured by his professional background. Hehn has another opinion:
For all their costumes, songs about blogs, facepaint and album title — Hot Nails, named after the Lincoln salon — Beck says it's sometimes hard to fit in with the rest of Lincoln music. Some of their favorite bands haven't been too receptive of booking a show, but that hasn't stopped Time Hammer from playing with metal, hip-hop, indie rock and pop bands:
Now that Time Hammer has an album in hand, the band hopes to keep at it for as long as their clocks will allow. Who knows, maybe 40 or so years down the road, they will make their dream, old-man album:
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He will never give up his clock. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.