For many people, the daily grind can wreak havoc on creativity, but Abbie Morin of Northampton, MA indie rock band Hammydown, turns the minutia of working in the service industry into music.
“It’s sort of funny because one doesn’t expect to find inspiration in a monotonous 8-hour shift in latte land,” Morin says. “For awhile, I thought that my time in the service industry was dampening my creative energy, but I turned out to be wrong. Exploring the seemingly mundane has actually helped me to discover how complex, and intense our relationships with our jobs really are.”
For Morin, chief among those complexities is having to be “on” at all times in the name of hospitality and customer relations. “When I’m behind the counter at work I try to be myself, but I only can be to a certain extent. A lot of what you see of me in that context ends up being a performative blend of fake smiles, and secret eye rolls.”
With Hammydown, which will release its debut EP, “Pizzaface” on July 21, she casts aside those saccharine expectations in favor of her authentic self. “I find it really cleansing to be able to break away from that persona, and enter a different one that I’m able to access through playing these songs. I consider them to be the brazen subtext that’s bubbling beneath the surface of your friendly neighborhood barista.”
Along with its lyrical themes, Hammydown’s music—a mix of 90s-tinged alt-rock, pop, and indie ballads (“Migraine” and “Sky Friend” are particular standouts)—is also a response to constraints, albeit more instrumental than personal in nature. After writing and performing on acoustic guitar for over a decade, Morin made the switch to electric guitar in the early days of the new project. “I couldn’t make it through a show without breaking a string from playing so hard, and I knew I needed some kind of change,” she says. “In a fit of frustration I started writing from behind a drum kit and the first songs of the “Pizzaface” EP started to emerge. After that, I got my hands on my Jazzmaster (who I’ve named Beluga) and started translating the fresh ideas and raw energy back into guitar sounds. It was such a relief to discover the power and control I could harness with the electric, and I spent countless hours alone in my sweltering/freezing apartment honing my skills on my new instrument.” From there she recruited bassist Joshua Speers and drummer Jacob Burnstein to create a full-band sound.
For others looking to find balance between their art and work or other responsibilities, Morin recommends scheduling blocks of time to practice and write music, rather than purely relying on creative impulse. And also, to be kind to yourself. “There are days when I’m brushing coffee grounds out of my leg hair and thinking ‘whoa, I’m a huge loser. what am I gonna do with my life,’ but I’ve been trying to turn that inner narrative into something more positive. When I’m feeling extra bitter I’ve got to remind myself that the time I spend at my day job does eventually transform into a new set of guitar strings, or gas in the tank to get me to a show.”
Check out our exclusive premiere of “Pizzaface” now, and find out more about the release here.