Interview with Lonnie Hammer (Vocalist/Drummer/Founder of Hammer Down Hard) and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
(All photographs by Kim Allegrezza)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
LH: I would describe Hammer Down Hard’s music as “take the bull by the horns” and “rise up, don’t let anything or anyone hold you down” type of stuff. I think life is tough for everyone, so you just have to go for it and be the best “you” that you can be. That’s the way that I like to write.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc
LH: I was born and raised in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called Wakefield. Music was always in my blood and I started playing drums at the age of 6.
Funny, even at that age I knew what I wanted to become. After I graduated high school, I toured the US in a band for a few years then relocated to Memphis, TN. After that, I ended up playing drums in several bands such as Every Mother’s Nightmare, Jack Russell’s Great White, and Black Oak Arkansas. Later, I decided to move out from behind the drums and reinvent myself as a frontman/lead vocalist for my band, Hammer Down Hard. Just recently, I relocated to the Boston, MA area and am working on a project (drums) with musicians from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Metal Church, and Bang Tango.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
LH: Inspiration for me as an artist, in general, is life. I have a lot of bands that have influenced me at different levels of my life. I’ve always seemed to write stuff about taking control of my own destiny, not winey, woe-is-me crap. People have enough of their own day-to-day problems, so they don’t need to hear things that will bring them down even more.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
LH: My main goal is to always stay relevant and true to myself. I pride myself on being the best that I can be. That being said, it would be great if I could put out a few more albums and continue touring.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
LH: I’d probably have to say writing and recording both Hammer Down Hard records. For me, it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done. Recording with my producer and co-writer Justin Rimer was an incredible experience. Finally, I got to fully express myself musically and tell my story lyrically.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
LH: Things are really different now with social media. Back in the day, we had to earn each fan one by one on the road, which is how to gain genuine respect as an artist. Now, even a novice can trick people into becoming fans. Social media is a powerful tool, but it created lower-caliber music and laziness in the music industry, which in turn hurt the true artists.
For me, I am myself and try to respond back and respect those that reach out to me. I’m more of a Facebook guy because that’s where I built my friend/fan base. Besides, that’s pretty much all I have time for currently.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
LH: All mostly through concert promoters and they push the events, but we also do our part in letting fans know if we are coming to their area. Like everyone in this business, we had a rough couple of years playing out in 2020 and 2021. Now, this past year has picked up tremendously for live shows which is great. For myself, I needed to take the last year off from everything after going through a divorce. It’s a lot of stress and work going through life changes like that. I just needed time to heal and get my head on straight. Things seemed to have worked out for me though. Last spring, I met someone and decided to move 1400 miles from Memphis to the Boston area to be with her. Great way to hit the reset button on my life, love, and music career. So, as far as playing live shows go, I have nothing to announce yet, but I’m in a very good state of mind right now and am working towards that. Feels great!
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
LH: Well, it is a double-edged sword. It’s great having my music available easily, but it’s much tougher stacking just pennies up per play than tangible units. I use Spotify myself and I guess it’s very handy for all music listeners, which in turn is good for Hammer Down Hard.
It can be a struggle at times to see a great payoff, but that’s the world we live in. At least maybe we are gaining more fans this way.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
LH: “Happy Birthday” by The Hill Sisters. Seems like that song is still doing well.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
LH: The music industry has always been tough. Things are a “different” tough today than in the past. I don’t think much can be changed in the industry. You gotta just go with the flow and hope you see everything on the back end. To be honest, I really just love being an artist, so it is what it is and it all comes with the territory.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
LH: At the moment, I’m getting acclimated to living on the East Coast and working on the project I was talking about earlier. I never sit still, so everyone will see me back on my “music horse” or, better yet, “music Cephalopod” sometime soon because the Madness Serves Me Well!
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
LH: All the info about the band, myself, and my music is available through this link:
Also, I would like to take a moment and thank you, Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views, for all you do, and also special thanks to Christina Avila for everything! It’s been my pleasure to talk to you.
~ Lonnie Hammer
Hammer Down Hard links:
Band/Artist location – Memphis, TN
Website – Facebook – You Tube – Soundcloud – Merch –
Twitter – Instagram – Apple – Spotify – Amazon – Deezer – Last Fm
Check our page for Hammer Down Hard