Okay, funny guys, let's get in each others' faces: Van Hammersmith is bringin' it.
|Dear Van Hammersmith,
I play in a band called Silver Safety. We've been playing a lot of shows lately, and are starting to get some local fame. Brings in the ladies and whatnot, you know. The only thing is, with the economy how it is these days, we just don't get the money we need, when we get paid. We've been trying to record our debut EP for a while now, but we don't have the money for the mics (drum mics, for the most part) and certain plug-ins for our recording software. We've thought about saving up and paying for studio time, but we want our music to be as DIY as possible, and it also seems like owning our own recording equipment will help us out in the long run. The catch is, I just don't know how to get the $$$ we need. What would you suggest we do?
Also, I've been in a bit of a slump lately, as far as writing lyrics goes. I'm well-known around my area for my songwriting, but it's like the words just don't fit like they used to anymore. Is this normal, or is there something you think I should do to stop it?
Mike & Ike|
Is that what people call you, or are you actually two people? Seriously, don't you jerks realize how a "funny"name can distract me from actually focusing on the issues at hand?
I assume you're gigging and making shitty money at it, right? Well, that's they way things are these days. I couldn't buy toilet paper this week. I've been wiping my ass with old newspapers. Times are tough. What are you going to do , give up?
Get some jobs, guys. Get some jobs, and if you want expensive equipment, save your nickels and buy the shit. What the hell do you do all day, anyway? Watch cartoons? Get a job. I paid for my first fuzz pedal with money from a warehouse job. That's life. Money problems? Get a job. Gig at night.
|Hey Van Hammersmith,
I live in a small town in rural Alaska and I'm trying to form a band. I want to make 8-bit sludge death punk, but everyone around me listens to crappy music. It seems like every person I meet is into stupid classic rock and thinks that music created with a broken Gameboy isn't real music.
What do you suggest I do? Should I move to the west coast to find someone willing to join my band? I feel like in places like Seattle there is a growing 8-bit sludge death punk scene and I would just love to start one of those here in Alaska.
Kiss my sorry, stinky, ass, Tim. I'm here trying to help people, and all I've got is you rotten kids coming out, flipping out your hairless little wieners, doing a silly dance, and running away. I'm serious. I've had it with you feeble punks trying to get a laugh out of me by making up goddamn genres and bitching that no one in your fake, made-up state plays them.
Do you think I'm stupid? There's no such thing as 8-bit sludge death punk. Do you think you can just slap together a bunch of words and make it a style of music? Shit, anybody can do that. Check it out:
Four-cylinder speed metal jazz-core. Two-stroke Chicago Fandango. Mongolian electro-fusion dance-grunge. Funky West Texas trip-core. Don't call Japanese hardcore "Jap-core." (Bonus points to anyone who gets THAT reference.)
Anyway, I'm not going to waste any more of my horrible time on your stupid question, Tim. And here's another tip: if you're going to write me bullshit letters, at least make your fake, stupid, made-up state sound real. "Alaska"? Come on, do you think I just fell off the retard truck? If you're going to make up a state, at least think of something that sounds like a state, like Texazona, or West Dakota, or New Canada.
Naah, I'm kidding. I know Alaska is real. It's down south, right? Alaskabama? No?
Anyway Tim, I hate your guts. But I'll forgive you for all this crap if you can somehow record an 8-bit death scrunge crud crap punk or whatever cover of Sheryl Crow's song "All I Wanna Do." Do that, and I'll believe you're for real. Until then, just keep stroking your baloney and wishing you lived in Seattle.
|Dear Van Hammersmith,
I don't know what the f--k I should do. I am a decent guitar player, and I am willing to play so many different kinds of music, all for fun, but it's not going well. The metal and rock community here in this shit hole called Zagreb absolutely rejects me. That is probably because I also listen to a lot of jazz, house, rap, I go to raves, dress up like a soccer hooligan etc.
But that's only a beginning. My real passion is composing music, and I'm good at it. But here is another problem: I can't record anything. I don't have money to buy necessary equipment (I spend too much on beer, weed and speed) and even if I save throughout the year I will only have enough for a decent mic thanks to outrageous prices in Croatia. That process of saving would take far too long to accomplish anything. My parents financial situation isn't so good either, for this country is falling apart brick by brick. I could do something else, but nothing brings me so much joy as music does. My heart soars when I make music or just listen to it. It is so enthralling...
Thank you for your answer,
E. de Rastignac |
I'll make this easy for you, E. Don't complain about being broke if you can buy booze or drugs. Simple as that. I know life sucks, and beer and weed make the shit tolerable, but being lame and shrugging your shoulders and letting your dream slip away sucks too. Isn't it funny that we can always afford a hundred a month worth of beer and dope, but never a hundred to replace your busted pickups? Weird.
Anyway, as for people rejecting you, I don't know what to say. Maybe they would think you would be a better candidate to join a band if you weren't always drinking/smoking your gear money.
I'm another generic one of the 15-year-olds that writes you every week. Here's my extremely generic problem which you answer in every single column: I play (insert type of metal) metal, and no one else in my town of (insert medium sized town where you should have no problem finding at least four other people that have approximately the same musical tastes) plays anything I like! They all play (insert type of metal that isn't really that different from type of metal mentioned above) metal--how could they even like that junk? It's so disappointing! Anyway, I feel you might be able to provide me with a magical solution that doesn't involve me asking more than my two best friends and the one other person I've already asked to be in a band. Maybe you could mail me band members? Or tell me the names and addresses of people in my area that want to be in a band with me? However, if these people live more than three blocks from me or aren't in my first period English class, please contact them for me (you know...that would be a lot of work!).
Please help! I desperately don't want to play music by myself (what is the point of playing guitar if you can't impress people by telling them you're in a band?!).
(In all reality, I like reading the stories you tell from your career--if you want to tell another one of those, please do. If not, no problems--keep rocking, sir). |
Suddenly I feel like I should just go completely Joe Pesci on you people. Start by laughing and joking, and then get really serious, like, what the hell do you mean you think I'm funny, what am I, a clown to you, do you think I'm some kind of clown? And then start busting people with baseball bats and popping people in the back of the head and whatever.
Because seriously, I started doing this because I had an idea. I was sitting at the bar in Lubbock, Texas with a bad-ass Mexican guitar player named Henry (holla atcha homey) who can play 'Freebird' better than any M-F I've ever met. We're sitting at the bar, and it was one of those crap-holes that doesn't serve proper food, just pretzels and popcorn, and because we've been putting back beers but no serious supper, we're getting a little bit stupid.
These young kids were playing pool and making a lot of noise, and I mentioned to Henry that I would like to grab a chair and smash the blood and teeth out of the whole bunch of them. Not for any particular reason. Just being grumpy, I guess.
Bad Henry says, "Why you wanna mess with those kids, man? Shit, chances are you're probably the dad of one or two of them."
And then I thought about it for a minute, did some reckless, random math, and calculating that I'd been having reckless, random sex with a bunch of reckless, random females for who knows how many years, odds are good that there are some little Hammersmiths wandering the streets, wondering who their daddy is. Hell, some of them are probably old enough to have grown up and formed bands of their own.
And what if these little Hammersmiths are out there, wishing they had the advice of Daddy Van Hammersmith? They don't know who I am. They don't know where to seek advice. The best I can do is make myself open to the whole world, in the secret hope that if there are any little Hammersmiths that need my help, then they can come to me and ask for guidance. I'm here to help.
But what the shit is this crap? It's all become a piss-take to you people. Well, fine, if that's they way you want to play it. You cats want to get all clever on me? You think this crap is all the same? Just remember, when you slag me for getting the same questions every week, remember that it's you ass-tards that are asking the damn questions!
Well, I've had enough. If the next mutha doesn't ask something absolutely serious, with no hint of mockery, I am going to absolutely lose it. And you, funny man? I'm going to find you and jam a broken bottle in your face. I don't even care if I am your potential father or not. Hell, how are you going to learn these lessons without a father around to jam a broken bottle in your face now and again?
|Dear Van of the Hammersmiths,
For the last two years, I've been in a band, we've played a bunch of gigs, wrote a bunch of awesome songs (in my opinion) and had overall a lot of fun.
I left recently because I wanted to play guitar instead of the drums where I was relegated 90% of the time. I ended up forming a new band with my previous bassist and a new drummer, and we played a gig, which kinda blew chunks. Very sloppy and loose, I was not happy with it.
Long story short, I want to get back with my old band.
Is this an extremely bad idea or not?
Thinking in Thornhill.|
You came this close, Thorny. I'm serious. You're lucky your question wasn't another goddamn joke, because I would have reached right through the bloody computer screen to strangle you. But you're all right. You hear that Thorny? You're all right.
Here's the deal. You're banging a chick. You've been banging her for a long time, and you two know which buttons to push. You both blow your loads every time, at exactly the seventh minute. Then you give a quick kiss, and it's over.
But the relationship really wasn't where your heart was, so you decided to move on. Now you've found yourself another hot thing. The two of you finally hooked up, got down together... and... well, it was a little messy.
You were doing that tongue-in-the-ear thing that your other chick liked, and this girl is just giggling and squealing. She's whacking you off but she's doing it way too hard, like she's mashing potatoes. Everything is supposed to work the same, but it's just... you know... a little different. And it's harder to get it just perfectly right.
And then you start to think, "It wasn't this much work with my old girlfriend. She knew just which buttons to push."
What should you do, Horny in Thorny? Go back to the old chick or keep riding the new chick, hoping it gets better? Well, it's going to get better. You just have to practice. Shag her and shag her and shag her until you know what feels good for both of you. You understand the metaphor, right? I'm not just writing bad porn here, right?
Yeah, shag her. On stage.
|Hey Van Hammersmith,
I'm a guitarist from Holland (Rotterdam-area) and enjoy orange juice...neither are of much relevance to this story. I've been in bands but they broke up, then I auditioned for a bunch of bands and they all turned me down. I can't find any people to play with and bladeebladeebla....
It's all good, I bought a recording apparatus and learned how to play bass, keyboards, drums and ukulele (over the course of 5 years). So now I basically record my own music by myself which is nice because I can do whatever I want. Of course I can't play live because that would mean cloning myself and the last time I did that I got sexually abused by space monkeys.
Anyway, as you might have gathered I'm don't really have a problem, just a general wondering. All my friends are fairly uninterested in whatever music I like/make, I've failed miserably at getting bands together/joining bands and most of my girlfriends think a guitar is pretty dull...But I don't care, I love music, breathe it, eat it, drink it, do things with it that would make most Americans choke in their own vomit from shock....
My question is, that you, as a guy that has been doing music (yes, doing...) for so long, there must have been a moment in your life that you thought: if I didn't have this in my life I'd be worse of than a burnt turd. I'm curious to hear about this moment, and if you haven't had a moment like this I'm pretty sure you'd be able to make one up that is pretty awesome as well.
I have bad news, Erwin. It wasn't space monkeys who sexually abused you.
Anyway, yeah, your letter was too long. But whatever. Yeah, sometimes I get discouraged. Sometimes I think, "I'd like to find Keith Richards and shove a red-hot poker up his ass for making me think rock and roll is a cool lifestyle." Sometimes I just want to throw myself in front of a train and end my horrible misery, even if it meant the potential little Hammersmiths out there would not have their dear old unknown dad to give them advice, on the heroically slim chance they actually view this website and ask a question.
But do you know what? I keep playing. Do you know why? Because it may only be rock and roll, but I like it. Yes I do. I like it.
When I'm sitting around, staring at the walls and scratching at the balls, I look at my guitar and think, I'm going to play that bitch for a while. And I'll start playing and I won't stop until I get hungry. Sometimes that takes fifteen minutes, but sometimes it takes hours. And I won't notice the time. Because I like playing guitar. That's all. Yeah, I've made some money doing it. Enough to live, more or less. I haven't bought a new pair of pants in two years, but I'm alive, right?
I like it. Yes I do.