The Oslo Hardcore Trio Hammok Tell Us About Their Debut Album

At the beginning of the month, the Norwegian hardcore band Hammok released their debut album, Look How Long Lasting Everything Is Moving Forward For Once. In February, the band’s members – vocalist and guitarist Tobias Maxwell Osland, bassist Ole Benjamin, and drummer Ferdinand Aasheim – took some time out of their day to tell Post-Burnout about the album and the tour for it that they’re currently on, at the time of publication.


The first thing I wanted to ask, quite simply, was I believe Hammok kind of formed during the pandemic; it was around 2020, right? I was wondering how did you guys know each other before that? I believe that you all played in bands before – this isn’t any of you guys’ first band – but were you playing in bands together, or how did the dynamic work, I guess?

Tobias: [To Ferdinand] You wanna take this? Take the backstory?

Ferdinand: Yeah, well me and Tobias in the middle here, started playing when we were 12 years old or something. We actually did a project called “Hammok” – the same as today – back then. We split after a few years, and we were in a different project with a rapper, where we met Benjamin. It was in the end time of that project that we decided to start Hammok again. That was in…yeah, in the beginning of the pandemic.

Actually, I was going to ask, what was the pandemic like in Norway? Were you guys able to do anything or was everyone locked in? Was anything open, like rehearsal spaces or anything?

Ole: Luckily for us, luckily we lived together in… – all of us three – in the same apartment. So, the only thing we did was live together and go to the rehearsal area.

Ferdinand: Everything was closed down for a bit in the beginning there, but, yeah, since we lived together, we weren’t breaking any laws by going to the rehearsal space, so we spent most of our time there.

Tobias: It’s kind of interesting, we started as a band, not playing live at all. We were just in rehearsal, writing songs and recording the songs. So, I feel like we kind of learnt how to be a hardcore band by being a studio band before we did the live thing, which is really backwards, at least to me. It’s expected for a hardcore band to only care about the live thing. So, the pandemic really shaped those first five songs we released. [Those] and the first EP was all written and recorded during the pandemic. We played our first show, and we had all those first five songs and the songs for JUMPING/DANCING/FIGHTING already done, and we were playing those live in the first gig in, like, 2021 or ’22.

Ferdinand: Yeah. ’21…

Tobias: ’21?

Ferdinand: …for the first one.

Tobias: Yeah.

Ferdinand: A few more in ’22.

Tobias: Yeah. So, it was a super strange way to start a really intense, crazy hardcore band, and not play live. So, yeah…[Laughs] It’s really…

Actually, I was wondering, was the music of Hammok as it is now, is it different from what you guys have done before? Had you guys done hardcore before? Because I was reading, if I’m correct, you guys were doing kind of pop-punk, Green Day-inspired [music], initially. At least at one point, that was what you guys were into. I don’t know if I got that wrong.

Tobias: Yeah, no. Like, Hammok started…It was a band in 2011 when we were kids, so we started out, yeah, covering Green Day, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and all the, like, basic stuff. But I feel like it’s the same band, today. We were just discovering hardcore back then, and the band was kind of a result of discovering, you know, like, Converge, Dillinger [Escape Plan], At the Drive-In, all the classics, and The Mars Volta, and all that. So, the music before that original band split was already going into a very intense, hardcore path but the thing we’re doing now is kind of just a result of just playing together for many, many, many years and just having…I feel like we never really started a punk band or a hardcore band or a metal band; we just started a band and it kind of just became the music that we wanted to hear, I guess. So, yeah.

Do you guys have any influence… – because I know from people who go from the introductory punk bands, like, say, Green Day, The Offspring, et cetera – before they go into hardcore, there’s that sort of medium bit where they kind of listen to some of the first ‘80s hardcore bands, like Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, stuff like that. Did you guys ever have that period or was it just straight from the ‘90s pop-punk to modern-day hardcore?

Tobias: I think, me personally, I had a detour into nu-metal. Like, I was heavily into Slipknot and the early deathcore scene, like, Suicide Silence was my favourite band, and Bring Me the Horizon, and all of that. So, I kind of went to more of the, I guess, nu-metal/metalcore path and then came back into Bad Brains and Dead Kennedys and more of the stuff from the ‘80s, I guess. [To Ferdinand] What about you? That’s me.

Ferdinand: Yeah, it’s not too far. We’ve always…like he said, we didn’t want to start a specific type of band, but we just are the band, and it’s pretty much a result of us sharing and enjoying the same kind of music. So, yeah.

Perfect. So, one thing I wanted to ask, actually, so when it comes to your lyrics and music, I wanted to note that even though you’re Norwegian, your music is in English. I was wondering, what the decision was to write in English? Because I think with a lot of hardcore bands, a lot of the emphasis tends to be on the atmosphere, the energy…you know, maintaining an energy, maintaining an aggression, and sometimes the lyrics can be kind of secondary. I was wondering, for you, how significant are the lyrics to your music and, just in general, what was the choice to write in English instead of Norwegian?

Tobias: I think the choice for writing in English instead of Norwegian is, selfishly, I think Norwegian is kind of lame. [All laugh] In music, very few artists in Norway can write in Norwegian and make it really cool; we have a couple of rappers that do it really, really good, but that’s not really appropriate for me. I think, like lyrical inspirations, I’ve always been really bothered by a lot of bad and cheesy hardcore and especially metalcore lyrics that are always like, “What have we done? We’re destroying the Earth.” It’s like, “Put down your phone; don’t be stupid,” and all just coming from one person telling everybody else, “I’m the smart one and you’re dumb,” and I really wanted to stay away from that, and, I guess, be a little more funny in the lyrics. I guess a huge inspiration for me is Matty Healy from The 1975. He’s extremely funny. Thom Yorke is also sometimes really, really funny in a dark way. So, I feel like getting that through in the lyrics. Like, if you take the song “J/D/F” as an example, like, the chorus is, “It’s OK to be dead inside, just feel around.” [It is] kind of a dumb thing to say. It’s super dumb, but it’s kind of addressing something that’s important in a really surface level. “Just feel around,” you know? Who cares? It’s going to be fine. So, I just like trying to find an interesting way of saying stuff and also just entertaining myself, trying to be funny and come up with a dumb thing to say. Like, the title of the new record is ridiculous and long, and nobody knows what it means, and it doesn’t have any punctuation, and there are lyrics on the record that are super over-the-top, just because I’m here in this room, alone, recording, and I want to have fun, and I’m feeling, “Yeah, I don’t want to be bored while I’m doing it.” [Laughs]

Ole: I think, also, we never really listened to Norwegian music in that way. Like we said, we’re inspired by American hardcore bands, so it’s not natural for us to start screaming in… – or [Gesturing towards Tobias] for him – to start singing in Norwegian.

Tobias: Yeah.

Ole: You know? It feels a bit awkward.

Tobias: It’s really funny, playing in Norway and the older people coming up to us, saying, “Oh, you sound just like this classic Norwegian hardcore band! You must know that band!” and we’re like, “[Sucks teeth] Never heard a song! I don’t know what you’re talking about!” [All laugh] “Yeah, it’s probably really good, but I don’t know it.” That’s been a huge thing for us. [Laughs]

Yeah, and I don’t know if…I know you guys have a tour coming up [Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted on 19/02/2024], but I don’t know if you’ve played outside of Norway just yet, but do you find that singing in Norwegian would’ve sort of…I don’t know. Kind of limited your ability to grow elsewhere or was that something you even cared about?

Tobias: We have played outside of Norway – quite a bit, actually, last year – and that’s been going really, really well. Probably better than in Norway, I feel. It’s been resonating with people, so I do feel the language does really matter, at least to me when I’m trying to emphasise certain words or, like, make a hook of a rhyme and stuff. But some bands from Norway have really made it big outside of Norway, but I think if we sang in Norwegian, it might have had some effect, but I don’t really know how much people listen to the lyrics, because I know for myself, I listen to stuff from all over the world and it resonates in a different kind of way, even though I don’t understand Japanese or French or Spanish, but I really like the music. So, I guess it’s like [Laughs] we’ll never really know!

Yeah. Actually, I think that’s one of the really cool things about music, is how you can always get the atmosphere and intent across even if people can’t understand it. Even like old punk records and stuff, they’re singing in English and I speak English, but the vocals are too low in the mix, or, I don’t know, maybe the person is just not enunciating correctly, or whatever, so you just can’t hear what they’re saying [Laughs] even though you speak the same language. So, I think that’s always been one of the appeals of punk, is, you know, people going to a show and singing different lyrics! [Laughs]

Tobias: [Laughs] Yeah! Yeah, that’s really funny. And I think people who listen to harsh vocals are kind of used to digging a bit more into the music, and, “Yeah, OK, I’ve got to read this because I can’t understand this verse because it’s screamed. So, I gotta figure it out and make out, ‘What is this and what does it mean to me?’”, and people probably do that with different languages as well, like dig in, and I think people in hardcore music are really like…You’ve come through all the gateway bands and you ended up somewhere because you were interested in something more, and then you’re probably in every aspect of the music as well, I think.

Yeah, and I think with your new record – OK, I wrote it down because I wasn’t going to remember it off the top of my head [Laughs] – Look How Long Lasting Everything Is Moving Forward For Once.

Tobias: Yeah.

The new album. I wanted to make sure – because you mentioned JUMPING/DANCING/FIGHTING earlier – so, some places do list that as an album, but you consider it an EP, just to be clear?

Tobias: Yeah, it was intended as an EP, and I think it’s an EP. [Laughs] Yeah.

So, this is your first record then, to be clear? [Laughs]

Tobias: Yes! This is the debut album! This is it, this is it!

When I listened to it, compared to the EP, then, right from the get-go it’s at a hundred and keeps that pace, really right up until the end. I know there’s sort of a little acoustic guitar breakdown just at the very end, but, for the most part, it’s just keeping that energy persistent, keeping it going for…[The Zoom call cuts out here for a few seconds] I was wondering what the intent was with this record?

Tobias: I think the idea of a debut album is pretty terrifying, to be really honest. And I feel, looking at the record now – not while we were making it – it’s really obvious that this is a record that’s really trying to prove everything, all at once. The start is this harsh feedback, and I really think of the record as, everything is just hard cuts and just, like, really rigid, and everything’s just bricked out and maxed out in this digital, crunched-up way. It’s a record that’s really trying to make you understand that this is important all the time, and here we are, and this is where we’re starting. And, also, the title is Look How Long Lasting Everything Is Moving Forward For Once, which is looking towards a future even though it’s the first time. So, I guess it’s just this proclamation of, “This is going to be a huge thing for a long time, so just get on board now.” And this is there to wake you up and really get your attention all the time.

It’s like introducing yourself to someone by punching them in the face. [Laughs]

Tobias: Yeah, yeah! Exactly! That should be the tagline for the album, not my whole spiel!

I thought it was a really excellent record. I was listening to it, actually, whilst going around the shopping centre. [Laughs] So, that was what my experience was! I don’t know if that was the intended experience.

Tobias: Yeah, it is! Perfect way!

But it is such a sick introduction. Like, I can’t wait to hear what the reception’s going to be. I mean, obviously, the EP had such a killer reception; you had, like, Pitchfork and BrooklynVegan and stuff [giving it positive reviews]. I mean, when you get positive feedback for something you’re doing in such a revered outlet like that, what is that like, to be like, “Oh, the stuff we’re doing is actually kind of reaching people. It’s actually kind of having an impact,” I guess?

Ferdinand: Yeah, well…

Tobias: Take it away!

Ferdinand: [Offers it to Ole in Norwegian]

Ole: To be honest, it’s also a bit scary, I think. [Tobias laughs] Because when Pitchfork gives us a 7.2, I think…

Tobias: Yeah. 7.2.

Ole: …in a review, it’s like, “How are we going to top this?”


Ole: To us, it’s like we’ll never know what our next album or our next release is going to sound like; if it’s going to be this aggressive or whatever it’s going to be. We don’t know. So, we cross our fingers and hope that people are going to like it, I guess, but it’s scary as fuck [Tobias laughs], to be honest with you. It is.

Tobias: It’s like it’s scary and it’s also really strange. I’ve read Pitchfork for many years. Like, Pitchfork and Anthony Fantano, that’s, like, the thing for me. If it gets good from both, it’s probably a good record. So, seeing your name in Pitchfork, it’s really a strange thing, but it also feels not real because it’s on the internet and nothing on the internet feels that real to me, but you also remember, “Yeah, this is Pitchfork. They gave Kid A a 10, and that was a huge deal. And they reviewed Fiona Apple, and that’s a huge cultural happening.”

Ole: It’s a very weird thing to see. When I saw this notification on my phone, I was on my way home from my dentist, I think.

[Laughs] OK!

Ole: “Pitchfork has mentioned you in a comment,” and I’m like, “Yeah, OK. Whatever.” Checked it out, I’m like, “Whoa! OK!” And then a bit after, I see the bassist from Foo Fighters starting to follow us on Instagram, and I’m like, “OK. I’m paying attention now, I guess.”

Tobias: Yeah, but it’s also the greatest way to have your EP…Even if it was, like, a 5.2 or something, it still would have still been Pitchfork and that’s a huge outlet and a lot of people listen to our music because we were in Pitchfork, so that’s a great thing.

I just like the idea that if Foo Fighters ever play Norway, you guys can be in the DMs, like, “Do you need a support act?” [All laugh]

Ole: Hopefully!

Tobias: We gotta do that!

Ole: Don’t get too excited, now!

The cover of ook How Long Lasting Everything Is Moving Forward For Once
Courtesy of Earshot Media

“Hey, we’re free that day!” [All laugh] I actually want to talk about your tour that’s coming up. It’s a big tour. It starts March 1st – which is the release date of the album – and it ends June 2nd. You guys are playing Norway, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and the UK. I don’t know if I missed anywhere. I think that’s correct, right?

Tobias: That sounds correct.

Perfect. I mean, you get to tour around Europe like that. I mean, what’s it like, seeing the reception to you in different countries, how other places kind of take your music?

Ferdinand: It’s pretty strange, how different it is in different countries, especially going to the Netherlands. We went there quite [a few] times last year, after playing Eurosonic Festival in January, last year. That [got] us a lot of bookings, and we felt like every time that we came to the Netherlands that was the right place to play because we got more attention and more positive feedback than in Norway. [Tobias laughs]

Ole: But it’s the same thing, just outside of Norway and Denmark and Sweden – if you go down to Europe, if you go to England, wherever you go – it’s a different culture for how people approach your music and listen to the music you make, I think. Outside of Norway, at least.

Tobias: And it’s really a great feeling, coming to a different country. You’re very tired, you haven’t slept much, and you’re playing a show, and people actually show up and some people know the words. I don’t really believe that it’s happening when it’s happening, because it’s so strange for me, to have that kind of a relationship with people that far away, because they’ve listened to the music. And that happened a couple of times last year, and that just gives you so much inspiration and drive when you’re playing or when you have to wake up really early and take a plane somewhere. People actually showed up and they care, in a way.

Actually, as a band who’s lugging your own equipment around and getting from place to place yourself, I mean, has that ever proved a difficulty? I mean, I think one good thing about touring around Europe is that pretty much everywhere has a ferry, there’s a means of getting everywhere, especially if you’re on the mainland, you can tour around. But even on the islands, there’s ferries and everything, so it’s a bit more convenient, whereas I know in other parts of the world, it’s probably not the case. Especially with Schengen and the Common Travel Areas and stuff. I know that Norway is not in the EU, but you guys do get Schengen travel, right?

Tobias: Yeah.

So, there’s all these kind of benefits that bands from all over Europe kind of get that the rest of the world just, unfortunately, don’t, you know?

Tobias: Yeah, I think this…This is our first tour, but we did a lot of flying gigs last year, and that was really expensive, and it’s really tiring, and you can’t really bring that much equipment on the plane. So, this time, we’re driving for the entire tour, and I think that’s going to be…I mean, it’s going to be a lot of driving, but I think that’s going to be really nice, to just have our own gear and not have to worry about putting everything on a plane and hoping that nothing breaks because of the plane. So, yeah, I think this time, just driving everywhere and having our own backline is going to be a really different experience and, hopefully….

Ferdinand: Better? [Laughs]

Tobias: A better experience, a good experience. I think so. I really think so.

Perfect. The album comes out on March 1st. Obviously, I mentioned that you guys are touring all over Europe and the UK for the summer…well, for spring and summer, I guess. Yeah, what does the rest of 2024 have planned for you guys? I mean, what do you guys have coming up?

Tobias: We’re planning on playing a lot of shows, probably festivals during the summer that haven’t been announced yet, and keep going until we have a pretty…I don’t know how much I should say, but we’re playing as many shows as possible and also – I’m just going to say it because I think it’s funny to say it – but we’re also working on a second record right now, so we’re probably going to record that at the end of the summer, I think. So, yeah, I think that’s the year: Just working on a new record, and playing a lot of shows, and just making sure that people listen to our debut and we get that as spread as possible.

Hammok’s debut album, Look How Long Lasting Everything Is Moving Forward For Once, is out now to stream or purchase here. The tour mentioned in the interview is still ongoing, with dates left in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and the UK, at the time of publication. You can find all of Hammok’s tour dates, tickets and social media links here.

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