Interviews

Ramonda Hammer: ‘We’re Gonna Progress and be Ourselves’

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Los Angeles band, Ramonda Hammer – Devin Davis, Andy Hengl, Justin Geter, and Danny Louangxay – welcome us to their world of progressive chords, heartfelt angst, and a playful demeanor to balance it all out. What at first may be seen as a band that just stepped out of 1996, are 4 incredibly talented musicians who offer more than grit and quirky behavior, but relatability.

Being named after a woman from the TV series, Cheaters, Ramonda Hammer captures the uncertainty of life with laughs to go with it.

Continuing their Tuesday night residency at The Hi-Hat, the November 15th show entitled C.U.N.T., co-presented by Grrrl Independent Ladies, is a night “celebrating women” in all walks of the arts.

The theme of the night cleverly invites with a carefree spirit, hoping we will see you next Tuesday. With performances by Lucy & La Mer, Emily Gold, and Pom Poms, the variety of talented women will flood the venue.

“So far we’ve had silly themes and every night is different,” explains Davis. “We wanted female vendors; my friend Kat is doing a painting on a canvas, then there’s Play Like A Girl, (who) is just great – I wanted every female I know.”

In addition to live music, the art side is just as impressive. Pop-up by Book Show LA in addition to live art by Kat Bingley, Leslie Soto( Leslie In Space), and David Howler, will each bring their unique perspective,as well as Arpie Shekoyan who is donating 35% of all proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

Davis continued to explain the empowerment of women and how “we need to keep it up.” Playing with an assortment of bands, especially female fronted bands, there was a sense of support that Davis expressed that at least one night of the residency be dedicated to the talented women she has come across.

Art by Kathering Bingley

Art by Katherine Bingley

After the success on their album Whatever That Means, the Los Angeles foursome began to pick up comparisons to the likes of a “grungier No Doubt.” I discussed this and more with Davis over the phone, and hands down she became the easiest person to talk to, with a hint of confidence that goes beyond the stage.

“Some artists don’t like being compared to other artists, but whatever helps people understand. I don’t mind being compared to a ‘grungier No Doubt’ I mean I do similar things with my voice, like Gwen. We both yodel, haha – we’re like kindred spirits,” explained Davis.

With more comparisons and influences from the 90s, Davis expressed how she always loved that decade, and at the time of the record she was listening to a range of bands such as Hole, Pixies, to Modest Mouse and Rilo Kiley, but that’s not what she wanted listeners to just see or hear.

“I don’t want people to think we’re trying to knock off the 90s, we’re very modern. We’re at the beginning of a series of a TV show. I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh there’s that angry girl band,’ because we’re not a Riot Grrl band,” Davis continued, “I want people to know that’s a Ramonda Hammer song without all sounding the same. Like ‘they have that one sound’ but different, like our bassist Andy is super melodic.”

In between a small chuckle she asked, “Does this make any sense?”

Davis continued to explain being known hearing the new Green Day single on the radio while on tour.

“We all asked ‘is this fuckin’ Green Day?’” and it was a new song and after to find out it was, we’re like ‘Green Day making shit happen,’  but they have that sound that you know it’s them.”

Coming from a background of film, Davis and her thoughts were visual and cinematic, in which she confessed how she loved making something “abstract” into something “visual.”

Their latest single “Zombie Sweater” exemplified what she was trying to explain. The track takes a different direction than the angst heard on previous singles, but still being light and quirky, a trait that defines Ramonda Hammer.

Being the first song that the band wrote in a minor E Key, Davis went back to her TV series comparison. “It’s like character development. First everyone is happy but then it gets darker – that’s life.”

“Zombie Sweater” is darker and foreshadows the next step in their evolving sound, while still having meaning, specifically this track highlighting the notion to think for yourself.

Their carefree and humorous side somehow always shared the same spotlight as their deeper and grunge intent, a contradiction that I wondered would limit Davis.

“I don’t think it’s holding back – all comedy is the best remedy of the serious situations. (The) darkest things of what is going on in the world – like satire. Our band is actually really sensitive…I don’t like to take myself so seriously.”

Ramonda Hammer could be compared to these previous bands but that wouldn’t be fair or do them justice. Despite some obvious similarities to Davis’ vocal manipulation to the likes of Gwen Stefani, Ramonda Hammer does something distinctively different with their sound – they aren’t afraid to expand or manipulate it.

“I just want to make people feel things…we’re gonna progress and be ourselves.”

Get to know Ramonda Hammer better live during their residency every Tuesday of November at the Hi Hat in Los Angeles.

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