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Interview with Hammered Satin


Interview by Malcolm Smith

Hammered Satin is a self proclaimed 'Junk Shop Glam' band working out of LA, and in a different era would have been THE darlings of Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco. Their music is a potent mix of the likes of The Glitter Band, Sweet and the rather more obscure, but nevertheless fantastic Milk 'N' Cookies. Their new album, the wonderfully exotic titled 'Velvet Vortex' is due to touchdown on planet Earth sometime in May. Coming some 6 years after the epic 'Glamorama' Elpee, this new record really does hark back to the year of 1973 when teenagers (I was one of em!) just couldn't get enough of that oh so decadent Glam scene. Noah Wallace is Hammered Satin's main man and I caught up with him recently to discuss the new album, his influences, and his penchant for buying obscure Glam rock Singles!

hammered satin interview

Some of our readers may be unfamiliar with the name Hammered Satin. Could you give me a rundown of your career to date and how you arrived at the new album 'Velvet Vortex'?

We started here in Los Angeles in 2010. In 2011 we went to Sweden to open for the Ark. In 2013 we recorded our first album Glamorama on Burger Records and returned to Sweden, Germany and Holland. In 2014 made Rolling Stone Magazine's top 20 most awesome music videos for "Foxy Dude".
2015-2017 we released 3 different 7" 45 singles, made a bunch of music videos and toured US and Canada. Finally in late 2018 we recorded our second album "Velvet Vortex". This year we have been playing gigs in San Diego and LA and gearing up for the release of our new album in May. In July we are set to play Burger Boogaloo and a Velvet Tinmine gig at the Whiskey A Go Go on the Sunset Strip with an original 70's Glam band the Hollywood Stars.

On this new album you've managed to get that really authentic Glitter sound. I heard you contacted John Rossall from the Glitter band for advice that true?

Yeah! John hit me up to come book a gig with the Glitter Band in Los Angeles so I hooked him up with a few LA promoters. Hopefully they'll make it out here. Since we had already been talking I simply asked him how to tune the guitar to get that Glitter Band slide sound while in pre-production on Velvet Vortex. He was cool enough to tell me! It made all the difference in getting that authentic 70's Junkshop Glam sound I've been after for over 20 years now!.

You are a self styled' Glam Revivalist'. What is it that's so appealing about this particular genre of music?

I've collected 70's Glam 45's from all over the world since the 90's. In my opinion, no other genre that has come since then has even come close to being as good. I figure that if I attempt and even come close enough to sounding like the 70's Glam records it'll be leaps and bounds better than anything modern. It's mainly being inspired by over 2000 70's Glam 45's and taking elements from as many of them as I can. The lyrics and the fact that it's recorded in 2019 make it up to date enough for me. I like to think of myself as the first of the Junkshop Glam revivalist since I started in the late 90's with Teacher's Pet. We covered Milk N Cookies, Kenny, Hello, and stuff like Stanley Frank before anyone else was doing it. Then in S'cool Girls during the 2000's we covered Iron Virgin, Angel and a few others. Hammered Satin has covered the Dutch Heart's Lovemaker. Although a UK group called Denim was doing a 70's Glam Revival thing before me it was more half modern with a focus on the big hit groups like Glitter Band and not exactly "Junkshop Glam" like I've been doing. Giuda has nailed the Junkshop Production values flawlessly and undoubtedly are the kings of this whole thing. But I'm working on it and the Velvet Vortex album is a new personal best for me. After 20 years of recording I finally found the right engineer, Jonny Bell. He has the right vintage recording equipment and actually took the time to listen to me and study Junkshop Glam singles on YouTube to achieve the right guitar tones, drum sounds and vocal effects. God bless him, what a saviour!

I probably already know the answer to this next question, but I'll ask it anyway. Who are the bands/artists have been the main influences on, not just your music, but your outlook on life too?

The best way to familiarize yourself with the world of Junkshop Glam is to listen to all the great compilations like 'Clap Your Hands and Stamp Your Feet', 'Velvet Tinmine', 'Boobs', 'Glitter From The Litter Bin', 'Glitterbest', 'Blitzing The Ballroom', 'Killed By Glam', 'All The Young Droogs' and even all 16 volumes of the 'Pink Boots and Lipstick' bootlegs. I'm also influenced by late 60's American Bubblegum Music, Bonehead Crunchers, Aussie Grillfat and 70's Proto Metal so you get the idea.....Thousands of bands. These records have become a way of life for me since I not only collect them but I DJ them at nightclubs and on my monthly radio show with Don Bolles called Kitten Sparkles Glitter Box every third Saturday at 6pm PST on . It's become almost a religion for me. I even go so far as to dress up in platform shoes, satin bellbottoms, jumpsuits and shag hair-dos. Life is fun!

This new record has moved ever so slightly away from the Glam infused hard rock of 'Glamorama' to the full on Glam Rock that was everywhere here in the UK in 1973, was that a conscious decision or was it something that just happened naturally?

It was both. My girlfriend Beth wound up taking over on guitar duties. That made a big difference in achieving a more Junkshop sound. Also a year ago Victor Penalosa from bands like the Zeros and the Flamin' Groovies took over on drums. Victor is a power pop guy who knows groups like Mud, Sweet, Milk N Cookies intimately and not only knows how to but isn't afraid to play the drums in that style. Hammered Satin's first drummer's favourite bands were Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters just to give you an idea. So it's been a long and sometimes frustrating road to finding the right group of people all on the same page to get the magic Junkshop Glam sound

Would it be fair to say, you were born 'Out of Time'?

Time doesn't actually exist and is just one continuous now. Hahahaha just kidding, yeah I'm stuck wanting to live in the 70's like some kind of freak!

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As well as recording with Hammered Satin, you have become an avid collector of Obscure Glam singles from back in the day, as well as a DJ and Radio show host. How did all that come about?

Don Bolles, legendary LA music scene guy from the Germs, Ariel Pink, Celebrity Skin blah blah blah, just convinced me to come DJ monthly at the Monty Bar with him. We have been friends since the early 2000's so he knew of how crazy large my 45 collection is and each month would pick my brain to find out about all these amazing and sometimes very obscure and rare 45's. Both of our collections have grown considerably since we started DJing together. We named our DJ night after Phil King (Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush) and Tony Barber's (Buzzcocks) classic Junkshop Glam comp "Velvet Tinmine". Then about a year ago we started doing an online radio show over at Dublab called Kitten Sparkles Glitter Box. Some of the shows are just 45's and Don and I blabbing about them. We also have guests from wherever on the globe via Skype or even in the studio right here in LA. We've had Phil King on the show twice to talk about his latest JSG comp 'All The Young Droogs', We've had Robin Wills, major collector from the Barracudas and Pure Pop Blog. We've even had an original 70's JSG artist Laurice Marshall of Paul St. John, Grudge, and Spiv among others. Our next show has Allan Merrill of the Arrows who wrote 'I Love Rock N Roll' that Joan Jett later covered and made into a massive hit. All 12 of our past shows are in the archives for anyone to listen to at any time. I also should add that in July we are taking Velvet Tinmine out of town for the first time for the Burger Boogaloo pre-party in Oakland Ca which we will DJ but is also a rock show with Apache, Dancer, Flytraps and Hammered Satin playing at Eli's Mile High Club. We hope to find a booking agent to put Velvet Tinmine on the road in US and Europe. I have DJ'ed across Europe on tour with the Ark in 2007 and Don has DJ'ed Europe on Ariel Pink tours and Europeans love these records. There's a JSG scene in Rome where Giuda is from that Don has DJ'ed and apparently they literally swing from the rafters there! I should also mention that Don sings backup vocals on a few tracks on the Velvet Vortex album in the T. Rex style of Flow and Eddie. Don also did a Transylvanian Vampire accent on the song Baby Vampire where he has a twist on Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes by saying "You with the glasses, of blood, I've been wanting to do this for years bluhhahaha". He has even joined us live on stage to sing those parts a few times now.

Do you have plans to tour with this new record? You've been to Europe in the past. I for one would love to see you guys live.

We've been booking a tour of Spain, Portugal and bit of France for June but we may postpone that until Dec or 2020 in order to let the new album sink in and knock out a few music videos. There's a cat named Sebastian from the band Suicide Generation who has a Glam DJ night in London called Slow Death we'd like to come play. Touring is crazy expensive and we usually wind up spending more than we make on airfares, hotels, van and equipment rentals etc so we don't go as often as we'd like to. I'm thinking Velvet Vortex will popularize us a wee bit more so we can tour again in 2020

There's been a subtle line up change, with The Flytraps guitarist Elizabeth Boyd replacing Conor Behrle is there a story behind that, as Conor was with you for quite some time?

Yeah, it's tough losing a band member you've grown to love like a brother after 8 years of playing together. Conor moved back to Baltimore from LA. It was Conor's idea to add Beth into the line-up. Now that he's gone it's just Beth on guitar which works out great. He's a rad Thin Lizzy type hard rock guitarist. Needless to say, that guitar tone and style of playing doesn't exactly match the JSG style and aesthetic. I've been trying to push the band in a more purely Junkshop direction for years. It sort of just happened but it's all for the best. We're still friends and on good terms

Some (if not all) of your videos you've made in the past are great fun, is it something you take seriously but at the same time having your tongue firmly in your cheek?

Yes, exactly. To put it plainly, I'm serious about making fun videos. It seems like we're just goofing off and having fun which of course we are but at the same time a lot of hard work, money and planning goes into the making of a music video. Foxy Dude is probably our best. It had the biggest budget and was filmed in New York by director Trip Loon who in his own weird way is somewhat of a genius. The UFO video which was directed by Ant Boyd is quite good as well and caught the attention of Ace Frehley who then offered to produce us. As much as I love Ace and Kiss he might make us sound too Hard Rock, Metal and modern. It may happen one day anyway, ya never know.

The term 'Junk Shop Glam' is one that's been around for a little while now, but with the recent release of the excellent 'All the Young Droogs' box set, It's profile has never been higher. What do you think the younger elements make of it all, and do you get young fans at your shows?

Yeah totally. Most Hammered Satin fans don't also listen to JSG records nor do they even need to. But I'm constantly meeting more and more cool dudes and chicks with the clothes and long hair in their early twenties asking about the records at DJ nights and coming to Hammered Satin shows. Even punk and skinhead types are getting into it. I wouldn't say it's overwhelming just yet but they're definitely out there and listening to the good stuff. Back in the 90's before the term Junkshop Glam even existed it sort of felt like me and a small group of friends like Rex Thomson and William Martin (who now has a record shop in NYC that sells Junkshop Glam and Bubblegum 45's called Rebel Rouser) we're the only freaks on earth listening to these records. Now things have changed and a lot of thanks go to guys like Phil King who made the classic comps with Tony Barber who coined the genre "Junkshop Glam" during the mid 2000's. Their latest comp "All the Young Droogs" quickly sold out 2000 copies. Kind of gives you an idea of how it's becoming more of a thing. Not to mention the skyrocketing prices of rare glam singles that go for hundreds of dollars sometimes. Which is ironic because back in the day you'd find them in actual junk shops for 1 pound or so, hence the name.

Finally, what (if any) are your expectations for 'Velvet Vortex', as making headway/money in the music business at the moment can be pretty damn difficult?

Deadbeat Records is pressing 500 copies on vinyl and a few limited coloured vinyl that comes with a rad die-cut metal pin of our logo. Burger Records is doing a limited run of cassette tapes and of course it'll be released digitally on iTunes and all that. So expectations aren't exactly sky high. When as an artist you choose to be different by doing a fringe style that is DIY and on underground record labels, you are in it for the love of the music and nothing else. It's almost like RNR and the Glam Rock of the 70's which was top 40 and mainstream then, has now become the new underground. But hey, we're fine with it all. We'd rather do something cool than try to do some lame sell-out thing. When you know what the best is, you know better and there's no turning back.

'Velvet Vortex' is out now on Dead Beat Records, and also available as a download at the Hammered Satin bandcamp page.

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