Local Band Alert: The Flesh Hammers

The Flesh Hammers
The Flesh Hammers. Photo: John Tuckness

Local Band Alert: ThisisReno takes a closer look at local bands in this series of 5-minute interviews. This week we chat with The Flesh Hammers.

The Flesh Hammers describe themselves as “a controversial, and musically brilliant outfit who have succeeded in creating a sound all their own.” That sound is “Gutter Punk,” honed since 2003 on stages across the Western states, including The Flesh Hammers’ northern Nevada home and their favorite city away from home, San Francisco.

For now they are working with musicians from as far away as Peru, but are still looking for another guitarist to finish up the lineup. Current members include Blackie Crabtree (lead vocals, bass), Paula Campbell (guitar, vocals), and Tracy Brander (drums).

The Flesh Hammers have released four albums to-date and plan on releasing their fifth in 2018. Albums include 2005’s “Riding Dirty,” 2009’s “Satan On The Dash,” 2013’s “Bullseye,” and 2015’s “Fastest Band In The West …LIVE!”.

Recently I interviewed the band’s guitarist Paula Campbell and here is what she had to say:

ThisisReno: Who came up with the band name and logo?

Campbell: Blackie formed The Flesh Hammers in 2003 (after being in many bands in L.A.) and named the band. A ‘flesh hammer’ is a dick – it’s a sexual euphemism! The San Francisco record label we were on, Wondertaker Records, created our band logo.

The Flesh Hammers
The Flesh Hammers. Photo: John Tuckness

TIR: Describe your sound and style.

Campbell: Well, in other interviews and record reviews we’ve been described as a cross between The Ramones and Motorhead or like The Stooges. We are rock ‘n’ roll much like other bands such as Nashville Pussy, the Dictators, The Bellrays – all who have toured nationally and internationally for decades and are guitar-driven with strong rhythm sections.

TIR: If you could go on tour with any national touring band, who would it be?

Campbell: Marduk, Watain, Behemoth, and of course Faster Pussycat.

TIR: Where do you see the band in five years?

Campbell: This sounds like a job interview … We are planning to be signed to another record label next year since Wondertaker folded a few years ago. We are also outsourcing a lot of our band members from other states and countries which opens up a larger market for us both in terms of talent and exposure. The band core is basically Blackie and me (Paula) since we write all the material and like many bands (primarily black metal bands who often only have two members) get other musicians just for touring and shows. This is our new direction for the band and it’s worked great. We had an amazing guitarist from Lima, Peru, Zaymon Franco, put down all the lead guitar on our new album (due out Feb. 2018) and he brought such a cool interesting style to the songs.

TIR: What do you think of the Reno music scene?

Campbell: Dead. There is no scene here. There are a handful of regular steady bands that play and a bunch of bands who form for six months and disappear. In the seven years that I have l been in the band, I’ve played in over nine local clubs that have opened and closed and played with over 20 local bands that have broken up.

Many well-known bands have taken Reno off their tour schedules – bands that play some place like Harlows or Ace of Spades in Sacramento, skip over Reno, and go on to Salt Lake City. That says something. That is why we rarely play Reno. Other cities have much more viable scenes and people willing to go out and see bands and support them. In Reno people will support cover bands or tribute and blues bands, but not hard rock and metal. In fact, some local clubs have even said they will not book hard rock or metal. Considering that in other cities in the U.S. (and definitely in Europe) hard rock and metal bands and festivals sell out, it shows a lack of knowing the current musical landscape by local bookers. For instance, the metal band Behemoth sold out the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco yet they most likely would not get booked at any Reno clubs. They are a huge band, but it trickles down to not supporting the smaller bands that play that genre of music. That is one of many reasons why there is no Reno music scene.

You can’t discriminate against certain types of music and only book the same bands over and over that play “acceptable” mass market-type music. CBGB’s in New York City, which had a huge punk scene, didn’t book only the same type of punk bands. There is a huge difference between the Talking Heads and The Dead Boys in their style and sound but the club booked them all. That was why there was a nurturing viable music scene. Same thing with Seattle and the grunge bands in the 90s. They didn’t say only certain types of bands could play. There is no music scene where discrimination exists. Not all Reno clubs are close-minded (I’m not saying that), but to have a real music scene all clubs/bookers have to be on the same page and support each other and all types of music.

TIR: Great answers Paula, and if you thought this was a job interview, I’d have to say “You’re hired.”

Like Campbell said, the band doesn’t play Reno much anymore so the next time they do play, you better go. The Flesh Hammers’ next show is Jan. 20 at Benders Bar, 806 S. Van Ness Blvd., in San Francisco. For more information on the band visit http://www.thefleshhammers.com/

Always remember to support your local bands and venues … Go to a show!

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John Tuckness
About John Tuckness 115 Articles
John Tuckness has been photographing rock concerts in the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area and as far as Northern California since 2004. He tries to attend as many shows as he can. John knew he wanted to be a concert photographer when he went to his first concert, Kiss and Montrose way back in 1976. He saw three guys shooting the show and thought to himself, "that's what I want to do." After many years of undercover work (sneaking his camera into venues), he finally got noticed and started getting photo passes through PR people and the bands. John has had many of his photos published in newspapers, websites and band autobiographies.