You know you’re not playing many dates when your schedule is similar to that of 89-year-old comic Don Rickles. The Durham-based band Hammer No More the Fingers has played fewer than 20 dates in 2015.
“We’ve been doing some other things,” vocalist-bassist Duncan Webster says while calling from his Durham home.
He and his girlfriend, cellist Leah Gibson, formed Beautyworld, a folky electronic act. “We’re kind of all over the place,” Webster says.
Hammer’s guitarist Joe Hall and drummer Jeff Stickley have their own side project: Blanko Basnet. “It’s more cerebral and prettier than what we do in Hammer,” Webster explains. “Plus Joe is in grad school and Jeff just finished school and has a serious job.”
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But the punk rock trio is back for a show – they play Saturday at the Cat’s Cradle – which will lead to more in 2016. Despite their busy schedules, they will release an album next year. “We’re slowly working on it, but we’re going to get it done,” Webster says. “We can’t wait to get it out there.”
Despite the breaks, Hammer never lost its ’90s alt-punk sound. “I don’t want to say that we’re influenced by the ’90s,” Webster says. “It’s more like we are the ’90s. That’s how long we’ve been doing this.”
The three have been playing since they were in middle school. “Joe and Jeff went to elementary school, and I met Joe in middle school at the Durham School of the Arts, and we’ve been at this since 1996. That sound never left us.”
They also never left Durham. “We love it here,” Webster says. “The funny thing is that Durham is the cool place to be now. I get upset when I hear how good it is that Durham changed because this town was always a great place. It’s always been very supportive and filled with a lot of creative people and cool bands. It was working class back in the ’80s and ’90s, but there’s been a Whole Foods here for a long time and there’s always been good restaurants here.”
You’re likely to see Webster if you’re at Banh’s Cuisine on Ninth Street. “That’s always been my favorite restaurant going back to the fifth grade,” Webster says. “...I remember going there after school and getting Chinese or Vietnamese. Banh’s Cuisine is part of who I am.”
So is Hammer No More the Fingers. “Yes, we’re still together,” Webster says. “It’s been a long time. It’s been about 20 years since we first got together and since 2007 when we formed, but it’s something we love – just like I love Banh’s Cuisine.”