SoCal Spotlight: Ramonda Hammer

Ramonda Hammer
Photo Credit: Alexandria Bailey

Ramonda Hammer takes the spotlight this week. Devin Davis took some time to let us know more about the band and their roots in the SoCal music scene.

Hometown: Los Angeles
When the band formed: 2014
Members: Devin Davis (vox + guitar), Andy Hengl (bass), Justin Geter (guitar), Mark Edwards (drums)

When did you first know you wanted to be in a band?
Ha, I guess third grade when I started my first band called The Glitter Girls.

How did the current lineup come to be?
To my very pleasant surprise, I met Andy on the first day I moved to LA three years ago. He and I moved into this artist compound on the east side on the same day and I invited him to a show I was playing. I was like “yeah I’m in a band”, which was a huge fucking embellishment. Haha luckily he really liked my songs and we started jamming and here we are. Justin joined the band two years ago through an introduction at a party. Our homies were like “hey, this is Justin, his band broke up, he’s super sad”, and I was like yaaass I need that kind of emotion. And then there’s Mark. Oh Mark, our newest addition. Dear sweet Mark, recommended to us by our label for a run to SXSW this year, and then we just couldn’t get rid of him.

With all the little pockets of music scenes in SoCal, how do you go about checking out the local scene and finding new bands to listen to or even perform with?
I go to way too many shows. -_-

What’s your favorite thing about the SoCal scene? What’s one thing you wish you could change about it?
I guess I can only speak for myself and the scene of super dope bands that Ramonda Hammer has become a part of. So many female fronted bands and lots of camaraderie and support for and from each other. I love that all of these artists are building each other up and creating opportunities for each other. There’s no fucking way any of us could do this by ourselves.

There’s no doubt that this is a crowded place. So do you ever find it difficult to build up even just a solid local following? How does the band go about doing that?
We’re just super weird and put on heartfelt, energetic shows. People really seem to have caught on in LA. Now we’re trying to do that everywhere else. 🙂

How does you handle the band’s social media presence? Where can the readers follow you?
I feel like I’m really bad at it but I try my darndest! You can like Ramonda Hammer on Facebook or follow on IG + Twitter @ramondahammer to be entertained by my awkward comedy daily.

Do you have a favorite SoCal spot to play? What makes it your favorite?
The Echo for sure! Always a good crowd and they have good green room snacks.

What is the band working on now?
Writing a full length album, set to record this fall, and release to you all in early 2018! 🙂

Playlist: FRENCHIE!’s Summer Jams

Frenchie

FRENCHIE! took some time to make a playlist of his favorite summer jams. Check out his picks and listen to the playlist below.

I tried to really make a mix of stuff i like a lot now, and stuff from my past! Hope you guys agree!

The Summer Set – “Lightning in a Bottle”
The perfect song for a summer movie soundtrack. This reminds me of one summer, the year this came out. I was so chill the whole summer, kinda just went to the pool every day and spent a lot of time outside.

Rocket Summer – “Brat Pack”
So many of Bryce’s songs are so upbeat, but I think this one is the happiest. Its just about kicking it with your pals in your hometown.

Neck Deep – “Can’t Kick Up the Roots”
I read when they were recording the session was just called “Summer Jam”. Just reminds me of kicking it with you friends, maybe partying too hard.

Len – “Steal My Sunshine”
I grew up in Canada, and this song was like the biggest song ever when it came out. Was it as popular in America? This song is so sick; honestly it still holds up. Why were so many songs catchy and about drugs in the 90s?

Four Year Strong – “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)”
Easily the best “break up at the start of summer” song!

Bomb the Music Industry! – “Unlimited Breadsticks, Soup and Salad Days”
This song always reminds me of the cookout with friends that I always wanted to be a part of. Eventually I made it happen! We had a huge 25 ft tall inflatable water slide.

Fall Out Boy – “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy”
I almost didn’t put this on the list since the video is set in the Winter, and it has the word Autumn in it, but it’s so catchy and is a STAPLE on any mix cd/playlist I have ever had, especially on summer road trips!

Seaway – “Freak”
Fellow canucks! This song is such a throwback to my favorite era of pop punk, the early 2000s, where basically every song sounded like the summer!

New Found Glory – “Understatement”
This is one of my personal favorite “Get Amped for Warped Tour” songs. I go almost every year and I always have this one on deck for the ride.

Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue”
Dude it has been a long time since there was a “rock song of the summer” like this song. It was EVERYWHERE!

Vacationer – “Good as New”
This song reminds me of the most chill summer times. Driving on the west coast highway, San Diego to LA.

The 1975 – “Chocolate”
I got a penny board last year and I ended up jamming this song a lot while I was skating, so it reminds me of warm breezes and Arizona tea at midnight.

Fight Fair – “Brain Freeze”
When this song came out, I was living in San Diego, where these guys are from. I just remember drinking so many slurpees that year and it was so rad. San Diego has the best weather on earth and I just remember me and my friends jamming this song on repeat.

Between You and Me – “Overthinking”
This is a new one, and I am so pumped about it. It’s full of nostalgic vibes, and I have been on it like crazy.

Sum 41 – “In Too Deep”
The video for this song is set at pool, and so it ALWAYS makes me think of pool parties. I can’t recall a good one where this song WASN’T playing!

Waterparks – “Stupid for You”
What is it about this song? It’s so damn catchy! I can’t think of anything but supersoakers and candy when I hear this band.

FRENCHIE! – “SMR GLRZ”
I think this one is self explanatory 😉 It’s just about summer, and that one person who makes it so memorable!

SoCal Spotlight: Runnner

Runnner

Welcome to the first edition of the SoCal Spotlight! Being based in the OC, we’re well aware of how many local bands are around. We want to spotlight some of those for you and get to know bands in the scene a bit better. First up is Runnner. Check them out below.

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
When the band formed: 2017
Members: Noah Weinman (guitar & vocals) // Nate Lichtenberger (drums & electronics)

When did you first know you wanted to be in a band?

NW: We had been doing some one-off recording projects here and there just for fun, but in January I came to him with this little banjo song I had written and we decided to get really out there with synths and different drum sounds (which was all new to me because I had mostly just done folky stuff until then). I think hearing that song back for the first time made us think we should start pursuing that more seriously.

How did the current lineup come to be?

NL: We came together just as friends who liked recording together. We both come from jazz backgrounds and have similar tastes so we clicked pretty quickly.

With all the little pockets of music scenes in SoCal, how do you go about checking out the local scene and finding new bands to listen to or even perform with?

NL: I check out the scene mostly from playing locally. I play in a few different groups of varying styles so I get to see a lot of different bills.

What’s your favorite thing about the SoCal scene? What’s one thing you wish you could change about it?

NL: There’s a lot of crazy talent here, a ton of technical skill, though a lot of it goes unseen.

There’s no doubt that this is a crowded place. So do you ever find it difficult to build up even just a solid local following? How does the band go about doing that?

NW: Definitely, and we’re pretty new. Our first album isn’t even out (September 8th though!) so right now we’ve just been trying to put on a great live show. I’ve also done a few solo acoustic shows at my friends’ houses and things like that so that’s been a nice way to connect with people.

How does the band handle their social media presence? Where can the readers follow you?

NW: We’re not the biggest social media people but we’re trying to get better. We’re on facebook and instagram, @runnner_music.

Do you have a favorite SoCal spot to play?

NL: We just did a really fun show at the Hi Hat, which is a cool newer venue in Highland Park.

What is the band working on now?

NW: I’m going to be out on the east coast for the next few months doing some solo shows. We’re also in the early stages of putting together the next album.

Playlist: Awake At Last’s Warped Tour Picks

Awake At Last

Awake At Last put together a playlist of some of their favorite Warped Tour jams. Check out the playlist below and why they picked each song.

Beartooth – “Hated”
Beartooth has been slaying it on this year’s Warped Tour, bringing in some of the biggest crowds of the tour and tons of passion and energy to their performance. The song’s lyrics strike a chord to home especially in today’s world about not being accepted for who you are .

Beartooth – “Loser”
Keeping up the Beartooth vibe, Loser is a song about a rejected teenager growing up. Beartooth’s lyrics all resonate strongly and are very emotional and it’s a groovy song to jam out to

Sylar – “Soul Addiction”
Sylar has come a long way in the last few years and their sound keeps growing and maturing – the choruses on this song are huge and super catchy. The verses have a lot of swagger to them and its an excellent song all around

Memphis May Fire – “Miles Away” ft. Kellin Quinn
Miles Away is one of Memphis May Fire’s slower tracks, telling the tale of Matty and his wife and the struggles of gone on the road touring. It shows a different side to Memphis May Fire and is really heartwarming lyrically

Memphis May Fire – “Legacy”
Legacy is an inspiring track by Memphis May Fire. The crushing instrumentals really push the whole song, but the lyrics are the best aspect here. “They say you were created to do great things, but words only come to life if you believe” is one of our favorite lines and the song is very motivational.

Dance Gavin Dance – “Young Robot”
Dance Gavin Dance is one of the talent bands on this years Warped Tour, with their intricate guitar-tapping lead lines, dual vocalist approach, and hectic instrumentals. They have honed their own unique sound and Young Robot is one of the best tracks off of their new album, showing off the talents of each individual member.

Falling in Reverse – “Coming Home”
Coming Home is the single off of Falling In Reverse’s new album and its way more atmospheric, epic, and spacey than their prior works. The verses are super laid back and electronic, the vocals all sound top notch and this is one of their best songs yet

Too Close To Touch – “Crooked Smile”
Crooked Smile is a great track by Too Close To Touch, with vocalist Keaton Pierce’s vocals going from elegant and smooth in the verses to gritty, powerful, and epic in the choruses. It showcases his vocal dynamic and the instrumentals are all excellent and provide great atmosphere’s and rhythms to keep the song moving.

Blessthefall – “Hey Baby, Here’s That Song You Wanted”
Blessthefall’s been a band we’ve all jammed for a while now, and this track is one of our favorites by them. The intricate guitar leads throughout the song and Beau’s vocals blend really well and make them a great band to jam

Hands Like Houses – “Colourblind”
Hands Like Houses was one of our favorite bands at this year’s Warped Tour. Colourblind shows a more mainstream side of Hands Like Houses and song grooves all the way through between the atmospheric instrumentals and the powerful vocal lines.

Hands Like Houses – “I Am”
I Am jams all the way through with driving instrumentals, the momentum of the song keeps going into the huge catchy chorus hook.

Silverstein – “Smile in Your Sleep”
Silverstein’s been in the game for almost 20 years and they still bring it – Smile In Your Sleep was one of the first songs any of us had heard by them and it still holds a special place for us.

Interview: Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves

Elliot Blair, the singer/guitarist of Dead Leaves, took the time to chat with us about the band, their upcoming release, and more. Vultures is due out on Take This To Heart Records on August 25. You can pre-order the album here and check out the interview below.

When the band first formed in 2013, did you imagine you’d be where you are now?

We’re really happy with how things have turned out so far. We’ve played alongside of some of our favorite bands and have had the opportunity to do some small tours. It’s always been a lot of fun performing for people who haven’t heard us before, and meeting new friends all over the place. It’s been an amazing experience. Now we’ve been working on our new record for the last two years and we’re so excited to show everyone.

The Ohio music scene keeps getting bigger and bigger it seems. Do you have a favorite spot to play to your hometown crowd?

The Ohio music scene is amazing. There are so many good bands and we’re grateful that we can be a part of it. We like playing at Mahalls in Lakewood a lot because a lot of that music scene is kind of engrained there. We also like playing at Kling Thing which is this house located in Akron. They have a long history of incredible DIY shows and they’ve played a big part in what the Northeast Ohio music scene has become today.

What was your writing process like for Vultures?

I wrote the first song on Vultures in August of 2015. We wanted to write a full length record for a while and wanted to make sure we did it right, and create something that we would be proud of. The process usually consisted of me writing and recording demos in my room, and then slowly refining the songs as a full band.

There were times during writing that I would spend hours on a verse, trying different things until something stuck. I would constantly send demos to the rest of the band to get opinions and ideas. I think we ended up with 50 songs in total, and we narrowed it down to 12 for the record, but only chose 9. I ended up writng ‘Wake Me’ later on, while we were recording the record. Overall, we’re very happy with how everything turned out, and Vultures is something that were proud of.

Can you tell us some of your influences or inspirations for the album?

Among many others, two of my big personal musical influences are Say Anything and Jimmy Eat World. I think that kind of reveals itself in my songwriting.

I was inspried to create something from my own personal situations in hopes that someone who listens to the songs can relate. The whole record is about being vunerable, which reflected the way I was feeling at the time.

What was the studio experience like when you recorded? Who did you record with?

We recorded with Dave Piatek at his studio in Cleveland. We had recorded our self titled EP with Dave, so we knew what to expect when going in. He really takes his time as an engineer and producer to make sure everything is perfect. The biggest thing for me was that, Dave seemed as excited about the record as I was, and that was a big insperation for creativity in the studio.

How would you say the band has changed since the self-titled EP in 2015?

In my opinion, I think our sound has matured a lot from our EP. I’ve personally been through a lot since our EP was released and I hope that comes through lyrically on this new record. We’re constantly working on improving our writing and performance, so I think we’re definitely more in tune with each other than we were in 2015. I think the biggest thing though is that our inside jokes have evolved to the point where it’s almost impossible to keep a normal conversation with any of us.

What plans do you have once the release is out in a few weeks?

We’re kicking off our record release with our release show on September 1st, and we’re hitting the road in support of the release until September 10th. Then, in October, we’re doing another small tour and playing Fest 16.

We have a bunch of other awesome shows coming up toward the end of the year as well.

Thanks for taking the time to chat. Where can our readers keep up with the band?

You can follow us on Facebook.

Instagram and Twitter: @deadleavesoh

Also you can keep up with us over at the Take This to Heart Records site.

Tour Blog: Civil Youth

Civil Youth

Civil Youth wrote up a quick rundown of what they have been up to on tour. They’re on the road until the end of August, so be sure to check out their upcoming shows. You can read the blog below, which is from August 1.

We depart for the 2nd half of the Conversations Release Tour today and we seriously couldn’t be more excited to get back west!  We’re going to be playing everything from Texas to California to Washington State to Tennessee.  This will be the 3rd time playing a lot of these cities, but we have some new ones this run so it’ll be a nice change of pace for sure! Make sure to come say hi to us for the first time. (;

For the most part things have been running smoothly. We had a few gear problems, which we fixed as soon as we could, and we’re back up and running. Luckily we didn’t have to cancel any shows! (Thank God.) There’s nothing worse than having to drop a show. In regards to our show and the set list this tour, it’s easily one of our favorites to play. We’re playing all new songs from our latest album, Conversations and putting live flares on a lot of them. Super energetic set and really fun to play with the crowd. We really hope you guys get a chance to catch this tour before what we have planned next… might not stay so intimate for long… Gonna keep this short as we still have to pack suitcases. (: