Rock-a-Rolla interview: Thorr’s Hammer Return!


Rock A Rolla – May/June 2009

Thorr’s Hammer, the cult doom outfit featuring Sunn0))) duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, have reformed for a very special performance at this year’s Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, UK. The band, active for a total of 6 weeks in 1994/1995, produced an EP and a demo, and disbanded once vocalist Runhild Gammelsæter aka Ozma, returned to her native Norway, ensuring their cult status and remaining the stuff of legend – until now. Runhild fills us in on underground metal’s unlikeliest comebacks.

How did this reunion happen?
We have talked about doing a reunion on and off for the last 10 years. Earlier I was negative, as I didn’t like new versions of bands who did ‘reunions’ years after. Sometimes the imaginary, epic memory of an old band can be disturbed by waking it back up to life – and the once handsome musicians are now old and wrinkly. But I am older now, and a bit more flexible in my thinking, and perhaps more nostalgic. Last year, Stephen brought up the reunion idea and all of us felt it was a good idea, that it, most of all, would be fun to play together again. Stephen really likes Supersonic festival and approached them about it. So it’s not like we had offers to play for big money or anything. Actually, I would like to point out that we are making no money on this.

It’s almost the same line-up: yourself, Stephen, Greg, Jamie Sykes and Guy Pinhas. What happened to original bassist James Hale?
Frankly, I don’t know. I lost touch with him when I left the states.

Why, do you think, given such a short lifespan and hardly any recordings, did the band go on to be such cult favourites amongst the extreme metal underground?

Four things. One: the music is quite good, if I may say so. Our stuff was different from other metal bands then and I can’t think of another band with the same sound since. I don’t believe we would be cult today if people didn’t enjoy the music. Two: a small teenage girl with very long blonde hair growling like a man is very noticeable amongst the bands composed of dudes in black t-shirts. Three: being in the right place at the right time. TH is a child of its time, and a cross-cultural band. We made a new mix of different genres: grungy doom, which was born in Seattle at the time by bands like Earth and Tad, together with Norwegian vocals about Vikings, which was used by the Norwegian black metal bands. To sum it up, we were into Norwegian black metal, from all parts of the world, and lived in Seattle when grunge and doom were born. Four: Steve and Greg went on to become big rock stars with Sunn0))), so people started looking into their other projects. That being said, the surprising thing for me is that the record has sold evenly through all these years. It hasn’t sold a lot, but we keep selling copies after 15 years, without any promotion or touring, which I think is quite rare. I am very grateful to the people who like our music and have kept the word of mouth of TH alive for all these years.

Are you planning to do anything more after Supersonic? Any new music maybe?

We might make some new music, I don’t know yet. TH is friends having fun; we’ll do whatever we like. But we will never be a tight band doing tours. Our jobs and other projects don’t allow it, and TH is and always will be old school and low key. I like that we are cult, it makes me proud.

Thorr’s Hammer play Supersonic Festival on Saturday 25th of July alongside Corrupted, The Accused, Iron Lung, Monotonix, Skullflower and many more
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


Tonight: Sing Hallelujah Reverend Billy is coming!

Sing Hallelujah Reverend Billy is coming!

Friday 29th May, 5.30 – 6.30pm – FREE
Outside Ikon, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS

Suffering from shopping overload? Concerned about a world rife with global advertising, multi-national control, global warming, packaging and supermarket domination in a profit driven and dirty world? Help is at hand! Reverend Billy and his Gospel Choir of Life After Shopping are coming to Birmingham as part of his ‘UK Shopocalypse Tour’.

Reverend Billy, the infamous New-York based performance artist and activist who is banned from every Starbucks in the US, makes his only Midlands appearance. This event is presented as a collaboration between Ikon and Fierce! Festivals year round programme.


Sublime indeed

omar_1A massive thanks to all of you that turned out to see Omar Souleyman + Group Doueh last week as part of the Sublime Frequencies tour, it has to be one of our favorite shows of the year and I was particularly enjoying the fact that so many of us non dancing types were unable to stop ourselves shimmying – the music was just so infectious.
I urge anyone who gets the chance to try and catch the tour:

Wed 27 MANCHESTER, MINT LOUNGE (Promoted by Faktion)
9pm-1am / £8 adv/£10 door (£9 NUS concession on door only) / 0161 839 8008 / /
8pm-11pm / £10/£8 concessions / 01603 660352 /
Fri 29 LONDON, TUFNELL PARK DOME (Promoted by Upset The Rhythm)
8pm-2am / £10 / /
Sat 30 CAMBRIDGE, UNITARIAN CHURCH (Note – change of venue)
7pm-11pm / £10 adv / /

A huge well done to Qu Junktions for putting the tour together and bring these guys over to the UK, it was very much appreciated and well worth all your hard work planning!


Even more bands confirmed for Supersonic!!!

super_eflyer_09We are delighted to add a few more extraordinary acts to perform at this years Supersonic Festival, including Japanese all girl band NISSENMONDAI, a 10 piece collaborative project in the form of DRUMIZE (feat. DJ SCOTCH EGG + ex members of the BOREDOMS + TRENCHER), TWEAK BIRD a brother duo who produce heavy experimental prog and psych-infused rock (a definite one for fans of the MELVINS), LIGHT TRAP which is the latest project of Nicholas Bullen (original member of Napalm Death + Scorn) in collaboration with none other than Johnny Doom and the drummer from Una Corda.

Full line up:
Head Of David (first show in 23 years) / 65 Days of Static / The Accused / Arbouretum / Atomized/ Bobby Previte / Caribou / Corrupted / Chris Herbert / Diagonal /Drumize /  Earthless /Flower  Corsano Duo / Goblin / Growing / Iron Lung / Jarboe / Khyam Allami / Kim Hiorthøy / Kylie Minoise / Light Trap / Master Musicians Of Bukkake/ Monotonix / Nancy Wallace / Nissenmondai / Pontiak / Pram / PRE / Remember Remember/ Rose Kemp/ Scorn / Skullflower/  Taint / Theo / Thorr‚s Hammer / Tweak Bird / Venetian Snares / Zu / ZzZ

Tickets – Weekend tickets – £70 / Friday Ticket – £15 / Saturday Ticket – £35 /Sunday Ticket – £35

available from:
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


The Paragon Hotel has already sold out over the weekend of Supersonic, as such we have just negotiated an additional deal with Nite Nite hotel, which is conviently located in Birmingham city centre and in walking distance or short cab ride away from the Custard Factory. We suggest booking this asap as they only have a limited number of rooms available.

Nite Nite
(20 mins walk from the Custard Factory, It’s just a 5 minute walk from New Street Station)
Quote ‘super09’  for room  – Tel: 08458 90 90 99
rate £39.95 per night (Double room only) with WIFI
offer available until 19/07/09

For a really cheap deal we recommend the ETAP
1 Great Colmore Street, Birmingham, B15 2AP
T : +44 (0) 121 622 7575

1.5 mi – about 30 mins walk

£38/45 per room per night – includes 1 single bed & 1 double bed in each room 1-3 people per room – BARGAIN!!! works out £13 each per night. Rooms book up very quickly! £2.95 for a continental breakfast. Approx 150 rooms available.
They have free parking if you’re driving to Birmingham.

Also worth checking out Late Rooms


Limited day tickets released for Supersonic Festival

We have now released a limited number of day tickets for Supersonic Festival 2009 and put up a basic timetable of whom is playing on which day (please note there are still bands & artists to add to these timetables).

Supersonic Tickets

Weekend tickets – £70
Friday 24th July 9pm – 2.30am
Ticket – £15 – includes Venetian Snares + Scorn + PCM + Drumize + Atomized + more

Saturday 25th July 4pm – 3am
Ticket – £35 – includes Corrupted + Thorr’s Hammer + The Accused + ZU + Iron Lung + Monotonix + more

Sunday 26th July 2pm – 12.30 am
Ticket – £35 includes Goblin + Head Of David + Jarboe + Caribou + Earthless

available from:
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline

Also from:
Rough Trade East – London
Swordfish + Polar Bear – Birmingham
Plugd Records – Cork


Latest additions to Supersonic Festival line up

We are delighted to have confirmed some more amazing additions to this years Supersonic Festival line up, which include the unruly trio MONOTONIX, the enchanting ROSE KEMP and the latest Rock Action signing REMEMBER REMEMBER as well as the multi talented Norwegian electronic musician, graphic designer, illustrator & filmmaker KIM HIORTHøY (Kim will be both performing and showing some of his films at this years festival).

Monotonix are a punk trio from Tel Aviv, They formed in November 2005, set up on the floor of the club with the audience, and the party began. But the party usually got too
wild, the power got cut, the cops were called and Monotonix were banned from playing again almost everywhere. Before long, they were looking for good places to play outside of Israel — and they were delighted to find that there are more rock and roll party places outside of Israel than inside!  Who knows what antics might occur with these guys at Supersonic!

Rose Kemp
Part of folk-rock heritage, Rose is the daughter of Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp from seminal, Pioneering British band Steeleye Span.  Rose’s unique powerful vocal is sometimes operatic, sometimes fierce but equally haunting, her musical style is extremely difficult to categorize, folk-esque /heavy rock has previously been cited but doesn’t really sum up this exceptional artist.  Lyrically her songs are compelling and their content somewhat mysterious but backed up with heavy rock guitars, oversized drums, old synths and organs, they are infectious and thought provoking.   Rose’s influences are numerous but include the classic rock of Black Sabbath, alternative rock legends The Melvins and drone artists such as Earth and Om. She is also influenced by classic Black Metal, Doom and 70’s prog right through to timeless songwriters including Kate Bush and Tom Waits, amongst many others.

Remember Remember (AKA multi-instrumentalist Graeme Ronald), is the newest signing to Mogwai’s Rock Action Records,  A kaleidoscope of sonic textures taking in Krautrock, drone, modern classical, found sound collage, primitive techno, gushing melodies and free noise, the debut album met with glowing praise from such disparate sources as experimental music blogs and the NME.
A Remember Remember live show can be Graeme alone with a loopstation, a guitar and a box of toys, an eleven piece quasi-classical ensemble and various permutations in between. Expect layers of echoing guitars, bubblewrap bio-rhythms, chamber-pop flourishes and perhaps a musical shark.

Kim Hiorthoy
A Norwegian electronic musician, graphic designer, illustrator, filmmaker and writer. Hiorthøy’s musical style is difficult to classify; the Smalltown Supersound website offers the following description: “On his records Kim Hiorthøy combines weird beats, lo-fi/leftfield electronics, field recordings, electro-acoustic sounds and samples, resulting in a sound all his own.” His live sets, however, differ from his recordings, with louder, faster beats and a techno undertone.

They join:
Head Of David (first show in 23 years) / 65 Days of Static / The Accused / Arbouretum / Atomized/ Berg Sans Nipple / Caribou / Corrupted / Chris Herbert / Diagonal / Earthless /Flower & Corsano Duo / Goblin/ Growing / Iron Lung / Jarboe / Khyam Allami / Kim Hiorthøy / Kylie Minoise / Master Musicians Of Bukkake/ Monotonix / Nancy Wallace / Pontiak / Pram / PRE / Remember Remember/ Rose Kemp/ Scorn / Skullflower/  Taint / Theo / Thorr’s Hammer / Venetian Snares / Zu / ZzZ

Weekend Tickets from: 24 hr hotline 0844 870 0000
Polar Bear + Swordfish – Birmingham
Rough Trade East – London
Plugd Records – Cork


Brits abroad at Roadburn Festival

Roadburn 2009 poster by Malleus

We’re just back from Roadburn Festival in Tilburg and had a blast, saw some amazing bands and caught up with friends from all corners of the globe.  Highlights included being kindly invited by Walter to put a panel together as part of the networking event, we discussed the uniqueness, inspiration and similarities of festivals such as Roadburn, Supersonic, Beyond The Pale & Equinox, this was chaired by Louise editor of Terrorizer Magazine. It was a totally surreal experience sitting on a panel with Steve & Kristin Von Till and Scott Kelly from Neurosis as well as being  the curators of Beyond The Pale, sometimes you just have to pinch yourself!
roadburn_6Me, Walter & Louiseroadburn_5Scott & Steve from Neurosis

The 013 venue which houses the Roadburn festival is an inspirational space, run mainly by volunteers, with 3 different size venues with in one – ranging from 150  to 2000 capacity (2750 all in), friendly staff, cherry beer, fantastic sound, also sells vegan food and most importantly is independtly run . Its exactly the sort of flexiable music venue Birmingham needs. Birmingham City Council please take note this is an excellent example of a state subsidised building, used for a range of events and is totally unique to it’s city – no need for a Bar Fly or Academy chain!

013 the host venue for Roadburn Festival

Music wise – highlights over the 3 days were Rose Kemp who mixes the heaviest sound with the most incredible folk vocals, the whole room was mesmerized by her performance and her shiny dress, if you don’t know her work you should check her out. Neurosis were fantastic, kinda goes without saying, they always give their all with their performances – totally focused. Mono managed to move grown men to a state of emotional bliss, a strange experience being surrounded by all these men of metal whom seemed melted by Mono’s emotional performance, Black Sun joined Eugene from Oxbow as part of his spoken word, which really put in context his stage persona, Zeni Geva were however the band of the weekend for me, everything that I hoped for as we were starting to flag by the third day, they rocked out and exuded some much needed energy by that point, think the heaviness of the Melvins with moments of free jazz. They finished their set with Deadsunrising…treats of treats! (and even better KK Null and I discussed our love of small dogs in broken English – indeed a subject that can unite folks).
roadburn_7Rose Kemp
As with all good festivals its a chance to catch up with friends from far away places and also meet new ones, of course a lot of this is done over a drink or three…glassesDavid (+1 Magazine), Paul (Una Corda), Jamie (Guardian) + the guys from Baroness enjoying a good game of trying on found sun glasses by night – they were blinding.

roadburn_4With Yvonne our host for the weekend and also Supersonic international press person, clearly having fun backstage with the free beer!
roadburn_9And finally me doing me Keiji Haino impression

A massive thanks to Walter & Jurgen, Yvonne, the 013 team and all the artists that performed, it was our third visit to the festival and we hope to be back next year, was a wonderful weekend and would highly recommend a visit. (best get in quick though as this years festival sold out in 45 mins of going on sale)

please note Jenny does not feature in any of these photos because she is always taking them