I've never been able to figure out the complex mathematics or modern witchcraft behind the way bands released on the label Amphetamine Reptile Records conjured up such an auditory lust in me during the mid- to late-1990s. These were dark bands with heavy, often syncopated rhythms that aren't typically associated with idealistic happy-go-lucky types like myself. Every time I walked into a record store during that time period and saw that distinctive black-and-white Amphetamine Reptile logo on a record, I would immediately buy it, regardless of whether or not I had heard of the band. I equate it to the idea of giving Ritalin to people with ADHD. Amphetamine Reptile Records was my Ritalin and Hammerhead was the manufacturer's choice. Hammerhead helped me with my impulse control and focus during a very confusing time for music fans. Bands like The Melvins, Tar, Unsane, The Jesus Lizard—all of whom put out records on a label with the word "Amphetamine" in its title—forced me to shed my sense of well-being and start focusing on the positive beauty of a negative outlook.
Skip to 2015 and Hammerhead have a new full length called New Directionz. This is a meaner version of Hammerhead. They thankfully don't sound like dudes in their 40s phoning in a shit version of their glory days. They sound like a well-oiled fuck-you machine with a bucket of fresh grease.
On a side note: I once interviewed Hammerhead. After watching a blistering set by the band at Jay's Upstairs, I walked up and asked the still-sweaty bass player, "So, what's your favorite food?" Without hesitation he smiled and said, "Um, watermelon I guess." Best interview I've ever done.
Hammerhead play Total Fest Sat., Aug. 22, at the Badlander with other bands. $25 for the night to see all bands playing the Badlander and Palace. $60 for three-day festival pass. Visit totalfest.org for full schedule.