100 Musicians Answer the Same 10 Questions
Part Seventy-Two: Hammock
instigated by dave heaton
The Nashville-based duo Hammock – Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson -- create gorgeous ambient-rock, dream-pop soundscapes, with song titles like "Blankets of Night" suggestive of the band's mood. The follow-up to their debut album Kenotic will be released November 21, 2006 by Darla. It's titled Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop An Echo . For more on Hammock, check out their website and MySpace.
What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
Andrew: The writing, recording & production side of things is really working for me right now. It's a whole different ball game than a live show where the music & arrangements are more or less set & your main focus is only the performance. Something about pulling a song down from the ether & breathing life into it still blows me away to this day.
Marc: Capturing immediate inspiration and then creating sounds that somehow make me become more aware of my surroundings as well as what's going on inside of me.
What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?
Andrew: Technical difficulties for sure. I get more irritated at my computer than anything else in my life! It can totally take you out of the vibe of a recording when you are constantly having to troubleshoot the equipment you are recording with. Your focus ends up shifting to computer tech rather than recording artist & it can be difficult to switch back & forth at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, in this day & age, it is the nature of the beast.
Marc: The times when you second-guess everything you're creating. The moments when everything you're doing sounds like it's bad mediocre music. It's maddening.
What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).
Andrew: We just finished our new record, "Raising Your Voice… Trying to stop an Echo". That was a huge undertaking. We're starting to work on the next Sleep-Over series release (our beatless ambient outlet) & there's a pretty good chance that there will be another Hammock EP in the near future. Marc & I have both been writing for our eventual solo projects, though we don't have any release dates firmed up on either of those yet.
Marc: Andrew said it all.
What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?
Andrew: I'm pretty fond of recording at Studio 37 where we've done all of the Hammock projects to date. VERY eclectic atmosphere & really no worries about the clock. That makes a huge difference for us to be able to experiment freely without the "meter running". Marc & I have spent a lot of good times down there writing & recording before we ever had any thoughts of actually turning those recordings into a releasable collection of music.
Marc: Performing on an Indian reservation underneath the stars was pretty cool despite the fact that all of the gear got sand in it. Recording the sound that was caused by the air pressure coming under the door, holding a gong underneath the water and moving it around trying to get different tones out of it, three cars honking at the same time, recordings sounds onto a cassette recorder and then re-recording them through the mic and sampling the harmonica and morphing it into something completely different are just a few of the strange things that have happened at various studios that I've worked at but primarily Hammock does 90% of the recording at Studio 37.
In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?
Andrew: I think that our sound is very tightly intertwined with our southern upbringing. Both of us grew up in very modest surroundings out in the middle of nowhere for the most part. That's one reason we get along so well, the commonality of that experience. It comes out in the music in ways we are subconsciously aware of: the attention to space & time, because in the small towns we grew up in, that's all you had, space & time.
Marc: I agree with everything Andrew said. I'm very influenced by the different seasons. My favorite seasons are autumn and winter. When the leaves begin to fall and you can begin to see the sky more clearly through the branches—there's nothing like it. The world tends to feel more mysterious in the winter. If I had my choice all of our records would be made in the winter and released in the winter.
When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?
Andrew: Both of us are constantly writing & recording. Since we finished the newest Hammock release I have been writing more in the beatless ambient realm in anticipation of the next Sleep-Over series & on more traditional "song" pieces for the solo record as well. I seem to always be working on several pieces at once, revising & revisiting over time until the song is satisfied. Writing like that gives me the luxury of perspective over time & in Hammock's case it is an integral process in the song writing & selection of material.
Marc: I'm always writing. I have a ton of incomplete pieces.
As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?
Andrew: I'm definitely more interested. There's such a huge volume of music being created & released by independent artists whose creativity is only at the mercy of their own imaginations. That to me is very exciting. It takes a bit of digging sometimes, but I'm constantly finding music that is actually quite moving to me. RARELY does commercial radio accomplish that unfortunately.
Marc: It fluctuates. I go through periods where I go out and buy a ton of music and then there are other times when I buy a bunch of books instead. It must be the way I'm wired. I really hate mainstream music right now.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)
Andrew: I'm a sucker for the post-rock. I think a lot of the music that I dig now is heavily influenced by it. I've found myself into music very much like ours & at the same time into some stuff that we would NEVER dream of writing. Great songs, no matter what stylistic leanings the original recording had, are still great songs.
Marc: I can be all over the place but right now I'm feeling pretty mellow. The six cd's I have in my player are: "Russian Easter" featuring the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir with Nikolai Korniev conducting. "Alina" by Arvo Part, "When the Detail Lost Its Freedom" by Brian McBride, "Selected Ambient Works 85-92" by Aphex Twin, "Avalon Sutra" by Harold Budd and "Into the Blue Again" by the Album Leaf. Recently I just finished Richard Butler's new solo record, "And the Glass Handed Kites" by Mew and "Venice" by Fennesv.
Name a musician or band, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this musician/band?
Andrew: I've turned on a few of my friends to Interpol. I think those guys are just amazing, in style, writing & production. I've had both of their records in my rotation since they came out.
Marc: William Basinski—Melancholia is stunningly gorgeous!
What's the saddest song you've ever heard?
Andrew:"Have You Forgotten" by Red House Painters comes to mind. Mark Kozelek creates such beautiful, melancholy atmospheres. He definitely gets the "Space & Time" references.
Marc: This is a tough question. I don't think I can choose just one. It's a tie between the demo version of "Smokey" from the Shanti Project by Red House Painters and "Everything is Beautiful" by Mark Eitzel. I have to give four honorable mentions: "Kite Song" by Patty Griffin, "To Wish Impossible Things" by the Cure, "Mercury" by Kathleen Edwards and "Scattered Black & Whites" by Elbow.
To check out the rest of the Q&As, click here.