When I sat down with Yakir Shochat, vocalist and Resident Maniac from HAMMERCULT I had no idea what I was in for. The man is an absolute fireball of energy and enthusiasm, especially when it comes to our beloved metal music. Their tour of Europe with NAPALM DEATH starts very soon, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share this with you guys. Yakir had me alternately on the edge of my seat and in stitches throughout our 30-minute Skype interview. But I’ll say this; the man is nothing if not 100% honest. Have a look:
Amps: Yakir, seems like a lot has happened in three years. How do you and the guys feel seeing all this hard work pay off?
Yakir: It’s incredible. We were founded in October 2010. From the first time we entered the rehearsal room till today, we’re still newcomers, we’re still humble, and we know that we have a long way to go. We have to pay our dues. The thing that surprised me is how quickly things happened. We did the EP, and then we did the Wacken deal, toured twice with SEPULTURA, did a D.R.I. tour, and one with HATEBREED. We go out with NAPALM DEATH in April. In the middle of all this we got the SPV deal. It’s kind of amazing, and it doesn’t stop. We are writing our third album as we speak! And we may even have it out this year.That hasn’t been done since MANOWAR put out Hail to England and Sign of the Hammer in 1984 I don’t think.
Amps: You know your stuff, my friend! Dropping the MANOWAR bomb like that!
Yakir: (Laughs) I’m a huge metal fan. I cut my teeth on it, I grew up on it. I used to listen to the late Tony Vance and his Friday Rock Show on the radio. This guy’s the reason HAMMERCULT exists. No Tony Vance, no HAMMERCULT. I’m serious!
Amps: Do we have a live replacement for Arie (Aranovich, guitar) at this time?
Yakir: He left in August, but he’s still a member to us and has been helping us out when we needed and he played on Steelcrusher. He’s family. He didn’t leave the band because of personal issues or conflicts. His passion is to be a sound engineer, not there on the stage. He wants to be the one behind the console. This guy’s been a part of MY dream for the past few years. Who the fuck am I to stand in the way of his? We love him to death, and always will.
(Editor’s note: at press time, HAMMERCULT announced that ALPHA TIGER guitarist Alexander Backasch will be playing guitar alongside Guy Ben David on the upcoming European tour.)
Amps: What’s the writing makeup of the group?
Yakir: That’s an interesting question because I got this very simple formula that I’ve followed from Day One: we don’t write songs that I won’t listen to. That may sound stupid, but I listen to the inner metalhead in me, the teenager. I ask THAT guy if he likes the songs, and I assure you if James Hetfield would ask HIS inner teenage James Hetfield we never would have had that St. Anger, or Lulu crap! I listen to the younger me because I still possess that rebellious spirit. Once I lose that I may as well quit the fucking band. It has to be rebellious, and it has to be ass-kicking and angry. That’s the spirit of metal. Metal is about kicking ass, metal is about slaying dragons, getting laid, getting in a fight and then drinking some beer. And when I write I try to capture that spirit lyrically and musically. It has to be furious. I don’t see us writing a ballad soon (both of us laughing)!!
I think if all bands would listen to that guy, that inner metalhead in them, the one that doesn’t give a shit about money-grabbing, publicity or what the critics say the world would be a better place for the metal fans, the guys who actually buy the fucking music. The guys who go to concerts, not those suit-wearing motherfuckers who happened to catch a song on the radio.
Amps: Talk to me about “Satanic Lust”. How did you come up with something so kickass, yet funny at the same time?
Yakir: (Laughing) first of all, thank you brother. When we wrote this one the first title was “Sluts From Hell” because I wanted to write songs about sluts. Talk about everything that’s metal, right? Those black metal sluts, those aren’t the girls you marry or date. You fuck them up the ass in the toilet (more laughter from both of us)!! You don’t put a ring on those fingers; their mouth is not for kissing (laughter free-for-all for next few minutes)! I wanted to give those girls a shout-out and capture what we’re talking about here. I know every metalhead who used to come to a bar and drink beer with his friends; he’d have one eye on the entrance because sooner or later, one of those sluts would show up. And, no disrespect, because she knows what she wants, and that’s to get laid. Hats off to her! The girl here is on top, not you.
Amps: What are the tour plans after this Europe run with NAPALM DEATH? Are you making your way to the States?
Yakir: I’ll be honest, our promotion agency focuses primarily on Europe. We have such a strong fanbase there. One of my dreams and goals is to get to the U.S. When we first toured with D.R.I. we were so green and they showed us the ropes. We did about a month, and they told us at the end, “If you can get over to the States you can do three months at a time, and then hit Mexico, and then squeeze another two months out of it.” And I was like, “Holy shit, this is the Big Leagues! That’s the granddaddy of them all!” Hopefully HAMMERCULT can get there in 2015. You know we don’t have fans; I hate that word “fans”. MADONNA has fucking fans. We have brothers and supporters, that’s what I call them!
Amps: Well I’m a supporter, then!
Yakir: Hey, you support me I support you. This is what it’s all about, helping each other in metal. We get new supporters every day, and that’s awesome. We can see this thing growing every day. Our friends are a part of it, they’re a part of our journey. I hope that we can keep going strong.
Amps: Being on Sonic Attack and SPV jointly, is that helping to get the album in more hands worldwide?
Yakir: The platform that SPV gave us has been remarkable. SPV gave us very good publicity and promotion. For the first time we got into the bigger ‘zines on a bigger scale, not just a small note here or there. They’re very dependable, especially Mr. Freeman (Amps agrees!). Sonic Attack has been our backbone, the ones behind HAMMERCULT every step of the way, and working with SPV gives them and us the ability to spread HAMMERCULT worldwide. With the brains and power of Sonic Attack and the power and muscle of SPV anything is possible. This is the first time we’re able to do interviews with U.S. media, which really shows you what SPV can do, and I’m really happy to be a part of that family.
Amps: Describe HAMMERCULT to the uninitiated. Don’t think, just GO!
Yakir: Think about what happened in the old days when metal was badass. If you remember those days, metal used to be badass. And guess what? We’re bringing it back with a good shot of steroids! We’re going over the top, full-frontal, in-your-face, motherfucker! This is what would happen if Dave Mustaine was back on crack! This motherfucker can’t write a good song last 20 years because he has no powder in his fucking nose (laughing)!! Now, we don’t have any shit up our noses but we write good motherfucking songs and we kick motherfucking ass! Our show is like a wrestling show and MMA. We are all over the place, doing 130 shows worldwide. This is metal!!
Amps: In the next five years, what’s gonna be happening in the world of HAMMERCULT?
Yakir: Hopefully we’ll keep on doing what we do but on a larger scale. If we play festivals, make it onto the main stages. I am very humbled and grateful for every opportunity to play on the side stages, but where I want to be is there on the main stage. I want to be the one headlining the show and putting asses in seats. The way I see it if we keep doing what we’re doing it will happen. And everyone has a different idea of being successful. What is that, a shitload of money in the bank? Fuck that! I wanna be recognized for the music and appreciated for making people have fucking fun. And while I’m young I wanna put my fingerprint on metal, so that one day when I’m talking about OVERKILL with someone like you, or, I see you have a DEATH ANGEL t-shirt on, I wanna look back on the previous decade of HAMMERCULT and know that we were one of the few thrash bands that helped keep the flame alive, that’s good enough for me. Everything else is a bonus.
Amps: Say something to all the HAMMERCULT supporters out there.
Yakir: First of all, thank you. Thank you for supporting HAMMERCULT. And if you haven’t heard of us, that’s OK. That’s why we do this. Check us out on YouTube and Facebook. Spend some time. And if you like it tell your friends. That’s what matters. We are doing it for you, the real metalheads. Metal used to be about kicking some ass, putting asses in seats, and fucking some ass! That’s what we’re doing this for. Damian, you saw what happened to metal over the last decade, it’s horrible! And there is a decade between you and me, but we listen to all the same bands: JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, AC/DC.
How do you argue with a man who makes valid point after valid point? HAMMERCULT’S European run starts April 10 and if you haven’t picked up Steelcrusher by now, WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE METAL GODS ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?