Duncan Webster, bassist and lead vocalist in Durham trio Hammer No More the Fingers, talks about the Baltimore trip to record Looking for Bruce and the difficulty with record labels.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: What was the most challenging aspect of finishing Looking for Bruce?
DUNCAN WEBSTER: We recorded Looking for Bruce in Baltimore, Md., during May of 2008. We were only able to book six days at the studio. Initially, we were only going to record seven songs for another EP. We decided to go for 10 songs at the last minute. We didn't think it would be a big deal to record 10 songs in six days. But every second of the day was packed.
I'm not a great vocalist, so I had to do like four or five takes a song—time consuming, but definitely worth it. We were on a label called Power Team Records at the time. We had big plans to release it with them in the Fall of 2008. But the label folded. We had a finished record but no one to help us put it out for a good eight months. It was a little frustrating.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of finishing Looking for Bruce, be it musical or through opportunities it's afforded your band?
That week in Baltimore was so friggin' fun. I feel like we got along as a band better than we ever have before. We listened to the recording on cassette like ten times on the way back to Durham. We're still really psyched about how it turned out. It's the first "official" LP that any of us have ever played on, meaning we spent all our money recording the damn thing.
It has definitely helped us land some pretty awesome opportunities: The label that we are currently signed to, Churchkey Records, liked it enough to release it. We had a big ass CD release show called Viking Storm last April. We met the band Caverns through J Robbins, the producer/ engineer. Those guys have become some of our best friends over the last couple of years. Also, this guy named Andy Maddison (who is now a good friend of ours as well) runs a label called Inhaler Records in the UK. He found out about us when we opened for Superchunk earlier this year. He really liked the record and asked if he could release it in the UK in January. His label set up a tour for us and everything. We're going over there in February. Can't wait!
If you could change one thing about the record, what would it be?
I wish the entire album was a little more dynamic. We had been a band for a year at the time, and all we were able to play was straight-up indie rock. The lyrics are a little weak at points. We re-recorded three tracks off our EP, which probably wasn't the best idea. But what can you do? I think we're a lot better musicians and songwriters these days. It was a place in time for us. Hopefully, our fans won't think we're getting weird on them for the next album.
And what's something about the record you find interesting that no one's pointed out?
My Dad did all the artwork. He didn't want his name listed for some reason. I think he's embarrassed.
Try to limit yourself to one answer: What's your favorite local album of 2009, other than the one you made?
Megamaxindianfaun is (are) rock solid!