Dan Hammer and Dave R. Maze Give Me The Low Down On Skull Hammer, Razormaze And All Things Sonic Pulse!

A little while ago I did a post about a band called Sonic Pulse, which features the drummer of Skull Hammer (Dan) and one of the guitarist of Razormaze (Dave). This week the newest super group on the block will be unleashing their debut album entitled Lager Than Life, having heard the album I was curious to learn more about the band as well as the writing process of their phenomenal debut album. Along the way Dan and Dave were kind enough to answer a few questions regarding their other bands which made for a really nice interview!  Check out what they had to say below and if you haven’t done so already do yourself a favor and check out Sonic Pulse, Skull Hammer and Razormaze!

Global Thrash Assault: You’re the drummer for Ravage and Skull Hammer but you’re the vocalist for Sonic Pulse, how did that come to be?

Dan Hammer: Sonic Pulse started with just me on drums and Dave on guitar.  We kept writing and demo-ing out songs assuming we’d find a vocalist at some point.  It got to the point where I had written some lyrics and demoed them out, and Dave kind of liked my vocals.  I still wasn’t planning on doing vox at that point, but we didn’t really find anyone through auditions and we were friends with a lot of drummers, so I did what had to be done.

Skull Hammer are currently writing new material for an upcoming release, how are things coming a long?

Pretty well.  It’s a bit slower than anticipated, but we have almost all the music for the next album written and demoed out in some capacity.

Is the new material any different from what Skull Hammer has done in the past? If so, how?

It is a bit different, but still definitely Skull Hammer.  It’s not as extreme as the jump between “Fear the Truth” and “Pay It In Blood”, but we have added a few more progressive elements.

When can fans expect some new material from Skull Hammer?

Well, about a week ago, we said we’d release a demo or two when we got 25 more facebook fans.  Unfortunately we still have some fans to go.  Hit that like button! haha

Skull Hammer recently did a show with DRI, what was it like opening for such a legendary band?

It was a great honor to support the crossover legends!  Also, I think DRI fans are a really fun audience to play to.  The crowd was responsive, which gave us a really good energy to feed off of on stage.

Skull Hammer certainly bring it live, will there be any more opportunities for fans to see the band live in the near future?

The opportunities to see Skull Hammer live are getting more sparse.  Mostly because we’ve already played to everyone in the area who’s going to dig us.
The next shows we have scheduled are at Silk City in Florence MA on August 3rd, and then a few shows with our buddies in Shallow Ground and Hessian hitting up Connecticut, Mass, and Maine.

Is playing lead guitar in Sonic Pulse different from playing lead guitar in Razormaze?

Dave R. Maze: It is immeasurably different because I’m working with closer friends in a much more structured but more laid back environment. With that said, while we party hard every weekend, we also have a fairly rigid method behind writing and practicing, and demoing new material. Its weird how that dynamic pans out, but it works well for us. Oh, and not to mention that working with Mick, a guitarist who’s on par with me as a musician, is just excellent and we can really bring out the badness and madness in each others playing. Also behind the scenes, working with Dan has been intellectually liberating as well, because he is so down to go through with every stupid idea we come up with when were drunk (crazy t shirt idea, ridiculous song titles, crazy get-rich-quick schemes) as well as every good idea that we come up with when were brainstorming (in terms of marketing, songs, album concepts). We take a mild businessman approach to our band that is a nice counterpoint to the hard partying silliness that we live for as musicians. Razormaze is not like any of that. They are simply Razormaze.

Razormaze just finished recording their third album, what was the writing process like for this upcoming release?

Pure misery. I’m not even trying to be clever with a reference to “Miseries,” it was just awful, but worth it.

The “Miseries” EP was fantastic and I’m curious to know, what can fans expect on the next Razormaze album? 

I don’t even know how to describe it. Its been the bands magnum opus as of yet, but it has also been a painful process start to finish. That may or may not be reflected in the material itself, but the struggle to complete it and refine it (it took 2 years to write and we demoed it out twice) added a lot of flavor to the music and should definitely shine through in the form of sounding like a newer, more pissed off and more mature Razormaze.

Razormaze were voted ‘Best Metal Act In Boston’ last year and the band is nominated for the award again this year, how does that feel?

It’s sweet. The title helped me get a job as music teacher, and the new job at the music school has been one of the greatest things that have ever happened to me! Also, the title provides quite nice bragging rights. A few months later, we also got voted “Metal/Hardcore artist of the year” at the 2011 Boston Music Awards. Just sayin…

Can fans expect a Razormaze tour once the album drops?

Maybe. Depends on when it gets released.

Sonic Pulse is a killer band and I’m curious to know, how did this super group come to be?

Dave – Dan and I were bro-ing down super hard, and we wanted to take our friendship to the next level: Start a band.
Dan – Also, we both were feeling the urge to do some things musically that we couldn’t get away with in our other bands, so we figured starting SP would be a good outlet for that.

You two are pretty busy playing in your respected thrash metal bands, how did you find the time to do Sonic Pulse?

We hang out just about every weekend, so when we’re not busy living it up or satisfying our beerlust and bloodlust with drunken Mortal Kombat, we practice and demo out songs.
The biggest thing that kept us progressing was the ability to make decent sounding demo’s in our basement.  That way we never really wasted time trying to re-figure out how we played a song after a long break.

You both play in thrash bands but Sonic Pulse features a distinct power metal vibe, what were some of your inspirations on Lager Than Life?

Dan – I think we both had an urge deep down inside to play some power metal. One of the best old-tyme memories I have with Dave was breaking into an abandoned hospital for kicks, then listening to Drafonforce on the way home. People will say what they will about Dragonforce, but that was the first time I had heard such blatant emphasis on musicianship while at keeping the music catchy at the same time. Going along the same line, we decided the goal of this band was to keep the music technical, digestible, and fun. And for obvious reasons, thrash elements were included since that’s our specialty.

Dave – I am actually less of a powermetal guy than Dan. All of the PM bands I’m into, he showed me (except for Dragonforce). I wrote with a huge tech metal foundation  but I just tried to lighten the playing up and it ended up being power metal – ish!

What was the writing process like for Lager Than Life? Was it any different than the writing process for Skull Hammer and Razormaze?

Dan – This was very different than the writing process for Skull Hammer’s “Pay It In Blood”. I joined Skull Hammer after most of that album was written, so I had the songs handed to me on a silver platter; we re-worked them a bit, practiced, then recorded (no demos). With Sonic Pulse, Dave and I would come to eachother with semi-finished ideas, rework it over the course of a day then demo it out that same day. It was extremely effecient because we wouldn’t have to re-play a song over and over to figure out what needed to be changed. Listening to what we had, gave us a great perspective. Skull Hammer is following this model for the new album.

Most of the lyrics on the album are about drinking beer and loving metal, were they difficult to write or did they just come naturally?

The lyrics came very naturally for us.  Many will say that they are a “joke”, but then I guess we’re always joking… ad nauseum. We spend our weekends drinking and making puns that would make the casual observer cringe.  Obviously a lot of those puns made their way into our lyrics.

Also, Queen of Beers and Bong Zombies were both inspired by the album art, and not the other way around. We hired a hentai artist to do the artwork, so naturally he drew a busty babe holding a beer, and then I assume he looked at some standard “Pizza Thrash” art and added some zombies with bongs.  It totally fit the vibe of our music, so we wrote songs about what he drew.

What was the recording process like for Lager Than Life?

Dan – It was a lot of hard work, but it was certainly less stressful than most bands have it.  We probably put in more hours than most bands spend in the studio, but we had the leisure of doing it in my basement.  So having the luxury of time definitely helped.

Basically, we demo’d everything out, did it again to a metronome, then re-did the guitars one more time, and then Dave slaved away on the leads endlessly to the point where it drove him to insanity and alcoholism.

It’s my understanding you guys had one of the guitarist from California thrashers Rattlehead lay down a few solos, how did that come about?

Dan – Actually, we got each guitarist to contribute a solo.

They were on tour in our area, and playing with my other band, Ravage, so I offered them a place to stay.  Amongst the partying, I asked Francis if he wanted to do it since we didn’t have Mick in the band yet and it would be a good opportunity to get another style of playing on the album, so he layed down a sick solo.

The next day, Nick and the drummer from their touring partner, Kaustik, were using my studio to record their side project.  When they were done, I asked Nick since he was still plugged in. He proceeded to lay down an awesome solo in an absurdly few takes for a song he’d never heard before.

The different guitar styles defnintely added some unique flavor to the album.  Thanks guys!

You currently have a few tracks streaming on the Sonic Pulse Facebook Page, what kind of response have you received from fans about the material?

The response has been awesome!  People really seem to dig it.  I really love it when people we don’t even know take the time to let us know what they think.

Sonic Pulse just played their first show, how did it go?

Everything went better than expected :|)) !  It was a young and energitic crowd in a packed practice space with a keg.  Beer, Metal, and partying… Life simply does not get any better! I hope we play as well as we did for every show we have coming up.

You guys have a few more shows booked in the near future, any chance there’ll be a Sonic Pulse tour?

It will happen eventually!  We’re considering our first run of shows a local tour, but we really want to tour around the country this fall.  Nothing solid booked yet though.

Have you guys thought about a Sonic Pulse, Skull Hammer and Razormaze show?

We would do it, but we’re afraid that doing so may rip the very fabric of space and time as we know it.  It would be even more catastrophic than dividing by zero.
Also, we would have to have Ravage, Seax, and Killbeast play too to keep them from getting jealous.

What do you guys have planned for Sonic Pulse in the future?

Dave – World domination through fun and stupidity.
Dan – We expect to release a new album within a year or two.  We’ve got some new songs written already.  Also, we really want to do a tour.

Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions guys, is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes.  Inevetably, there will be a few people who won’t like us because they think we’re a “joke band”, but for us to play anything else would be a farce.  This music is the manifestation of our combined personalities.

I guess it’s better to play in a “joke” band that takes it’s music seriously than to play in a serious band who’s music is a joke.

Also, thank you so much for the interview and the support!  We truly appreciate it!

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