Photo by Dan Monick
Origins is a recurring new music feature in which an artist charts the influence of their latest hit single.
Six years after releasing their 2011’s Out of Love debut, Mister Heavenly are set to return with their new full-length, Boxing the Moonlight. Due October 6th via Polyvinyl, the record finds Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus of Man Man), Nick Thorburn (Islands, The Unicorns) and Joe Plummer (Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse) reteaming for a “scrappy,” “tougher” sound than their first outing.
If the band’s new single, “Hammer Drop”, doesn’t exemplify that enough, its lyric video certainly does. The song itself is a meaty groove like an ’80s arena rock jam that’s been compressed by a rhythm taped over from a ’90s hip-hop beat. What results is a track that stalks with as much menace as fear, intimidating and anxious all at the same time without losing its dreamier textures.
As for its accompanying visuals, the clip finds a pair of mismatched wrestlers sparring for superiority. As they wear each other out, karaoke-style lyrics like, “Will you stand your ground/ When you’re knocked back down/ Even when they throw you into the fires of hell?” pan across the screen. Check it out below.
To help give fans more insight into the sound of “Hammer Drop”, Kattner explains some of the things that influenced the track’s creation for the latest entry of Consequence of Sound’s Origins.
Queen drummer Roger Taylor:
I’m always amazed/thankful/mesmerized when songs seem to drop out of the ether into your lap and this was definitely one of those tunes. Nick [Thorburn] and I had been woodshedding ideas in my living-room all afternoon and were pretty close to hitting our creative wall for the day, but rather than call it quits, we figured we’d try and mix things up by programming a simple, stripped down Roger Taylor-like groove into my little Korg sequencer to see if it’d inspire anything new.
Mister Heavenly — “Bronx Sniper”:
I really wanted to write something “tough” sounding and for whatever reason (probably had some “Bronx Sniper” on the brain), I just started playing along to the beat with this slightly over-the-top orchestral string setting on my keyboard.
The Limey — Steven Soderbergh (1999):
It sounded very big and dramatic, like something that could easily soundtrack an action movie or montage sequence. Anything where there’s a slow-motion tracking shot of some badass walking towards the camera or the point in the narrative where the protagonist has had enough bullshit and is gonna start taking care of business, cars blowing up behind them, unflinching, determined gait, etc. I tend to think more visually when it comes to music which I guess may sound a little odd.
So, as I was playing the keyboard/string part on repeat, the phrase, “When the hammer drops” popped into my head almost immediately and I just started singing it in a falsetto because I thought it’d be an interesting contrast to what the music was doing and I rarely sing in that register. That line was inspired by, of all things, NBA basketball. Mister Heavenly are all huge NBA fans and I’m secretly hoping a team (Sixers) will one day use this as a walk on song. Drive fear into the opposition.
Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and Billy Squire:
When we brought Joe [Plummer] into the equation he landed on the perfect “When the Levee Breaks”-era John Bonham-meets-Billy Squire’s “Lonely Is The Night” feel. In the studio, however, we initially wanted to double up his drums with the original bit crushed drum sequencer, but Nick had a great idea of layering the live drums with cut up samples we tracked onto an old SP-202 that was laying around to give a super crunched out early 90s hip-hop push.