Care 2 Slam? A Q&A with Ramonda Hammer on Their New EP "Destroyer"
September 12, 2017 | by Jocelyn Hoppa
Ramonda Hammer is an L.A. foursome self-described as “grunge pop.” Female lead, Devin Davis, is also the unofficial Queen of Grunge in 2017. Right out of the gates, I asked Davis what it's like being bestowed with that title, which has been smattered across press, and her response was, “Hahah tite.” How else is a gal to respond?
Ramonda Hammer is certainly, squarely grunge pop and the results are thoroughly satisfying. Pop enough to resonate in pitch and melody, grunge enough to get to the heart of the matter (the heart being the crushing reality you care so much it often renders you useless, a sound-feeling the '90s scene perfected, don’t argue me on it).
This is the age of destruction after all, so it’s no mistake the band’s latest EP release is titled Destroyer. And it is a record about those things that destroy. Tempos change, sweetness turns to wry — in the most aggravated moments, shifts into discord occur wonderfully and naturally for Ramonda Hammer.
We featured one EP single, "Bender," here awhile back, which also has some background info (such as the origin of the band name taken from the TV show Cheaters). Since then, Ramonda Hammer has released the Destroyer EP as well as a one-off single of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World.” The Bowie cover is just as much a tribute to Bowie as it's also a nod to Nirvana.
On August 4, Rolling Stone Editors' Picks included Destroyer in their 10 New Albums To Stream Now. Later you’ll read in this interview Davis has no idea how the band comes to actually put together songs and make music — it just freakishly happens. Take note: This is how the symbiotic joy of making music, good music, always rises to the top.
NO RECESS!: The grunge-pop tag is accurate and one that is sure to stick as press makes its rounds. I’m curious though about who your biggest influences are, grunge or otherwise:
DEVIN DAVIS: Bruce Springsteen, Lil Kim, Pamela Anderson.
NR!: There’s a really balanced mix of depressive / comedic lyrics in your music. Do you think it’s important to create some levity or is comedy more a high form of coping? (Either way, I like it.)
DAVIS: I dated this comedian for a second, and it made me realize why I write lyrics the way I do. Comedy is coping. If you put all of your insides on display for the world and poke fun at them first, people are weirded out but also kind of empowered. I dunno.
NR!: So, you released the very solid Whatever That Means in 2016, and now have this brand new EP Destroyers as a follow up. Has anything changed to your sound or style as a band in that short amount of time?
DAVIS: Yeah, definitely. The songs on Whatever That Means were my first attempt at starting a band. When you write alone, it's hard to manifest all of the sounds you hear in your head. Destroyers is a fully collaborative project where we all wrote everything together and the songs are more intense and reflect everyone's creativity. I'm so proud of it.
NR!: I imagine as you practice more and more and find that sound, this changes how you develop songs together. What are the dynamics of the band as you create music together?
DAVIS: I'm sorry, but it's unexplainable. I don't know how, but we're all on the same page most of the time and it's freaky.
NR!: I also imagine the other difference between Whatever and Destroyers is now you have the support of a label (New Professor)… how has that been?
DAVIS: GREG KATZ IS THE BEST, HE'LL NEVER ESCAPE US.
NR!: Read somewhere that every song on this EP is about some kind of destruction, physical, emotional, or otherwise, which makes sense given where the U.S. and world at large is at. Do you feel like it’s important for musicians to get political or does it happen naturally just by being a product of an environment?
DAVIS: I think it just happens regardless and it's absolutely important. There are so many different ways to make a statement, and I'm not sure which way is right. We just have to be ourselves and help affect change in individuals.
NR!: One of the biggest attractions to you guys, for me, is the odd time changes and just... dissonant sound that’s very comfortably held together by melody. Can you tell me a bit about the guitar parts on songs like “Bender” and “Care 2 Slam”?
DAVIS: Thank you!! I'm attracted to us for the same reason, haha. The guitar parts on those songs originated with me just fucking around on an acoustic guitar. I always start with simple chords and then I add notes to them or play them in different voicings and then think of weird rhythms. Then I show the boys and they are usually like "uhhh," and then all of a sudden we have a song.
NR!: Can we expect a full-length album soonish or are you gonna enjoy touring off the strength of this EP for a bit?
DAVIS: YES! Writing it currently. Hoping to record in November and it should be out early 2018. Can't wait!
NR!: I’m highly envious of touring musicians. I feel like I’d do real well just being on the road permanently. Can you share a fun tour story?
DAVIS: This one time in Fresno, we played a weird show at some sort of event hall. When I asked the promoter for drink tickets, he was like, "Yeah, hold on," but then came back with a box of dry hot dogs instead. Just a fucking cardboard box with tinfoil-wrapped hot dogs in buns… with no condiments. Weirdest payment ever. And then, of course, there's the moments like sleeping in a Walmart parking lot in Seattle or walking through a Taco Bell drive through with seven people at 2am in Eugene. Haha, touring is rad.
The band is currently on a short tour with upcoming September dates in Brooklyn, Denver, and Glendale Central Park.
Watch the official music video for "Destroyers"
Listen to our favorite track from Destroyers, "Care 2 Slam?"
Here's an older live acoustic version of "Destroyers"